Over 850 years ago, on 29 December 1170, a terrible crime took place in Canterbury Cathedral that was to change the course of English history. A nobleman named Thomas Becket was murdered by knights loyal to King Henry II. Becket had been the Archbishop of Canterbury since 1162. He was a powerful man and the most senior religious figure in the land, yet a dispute with the king appeared to have had brutal consequences. The story of Becket’s murder continues to fascinate people today and many visit the cathedral to see the exact place where he was killed.


Situated in the city of Canterbury in the county of Kent, Canterbury Cathedral was one of the most important centres of pilgrimage in medieval England, and is now one of the country’s oldest and most famous Christian structures. Founded in 597, it was completely rebuilt between 1070 and 1077, and continues to be the cathedral of the Archbishop of Canterbury, who is the leader of the Church of England and the symbolic leader of the worldwide Anglican Communion.


Part of a World Heritage Site, the cathedral is known for its incredible architecture, which encompasses Romanesque and Early Gothic styles. It has an impressive collection of magnificent tombs, including those of King Henry IV, a knight known as Edward the Black Prince, and other historical figures. Thomas Becket’s tomb was also there until 1538, when King Henry VIII ordered its removal.



Another incredible aspect of the cathedral is its stained glass, some of which was created and installed in the 12th century, making it some of the oldest stained glass in the world. At the time, it was used to communicate stories with churchgoers, as most people were unable to read. One of the later installations, known as the ‘miracle windows’, tells the story of healing miracles that apparently took place at the tomb of Thomas Becket in the fifty years after his death.