Alabaster panel showing Thomas Becket praying on his knees, as a sword, carried by a man behind him, comes down on his head.

20 May – 22 August 2021

10.00–17.00 (Fridays 20.30)

Room 35

The Joseph Hotung Great Court Gallery

Members free, advance booking advised

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The assassination of Thomas Becket, in Canterbury Cathedral, on 29 December 1170 changed the course of history.

Becket was one of the most powerful figures of his time, serving as royal Chancellor and later as Archbishop of Canterbury. Initially a close friend of King Henry II, the two men became engaged in a bitter dispute that culminated in Becket's shocking murder by knights with close ties to the king.

Marking the 850th anniversary of this dramatic crime, this major exhibition will present Becket's tumultuous journey from a London merchant's son to Archbishop, and from a revered saint in death to a 'traitor' in the eyes of Henry VIII, over 350 years later.

Members are advised to book a free, timed exhibition entry in advance and booking is now open for the full run of the exhibition. If you're not able to make a booking for Becket before your visit, please go to the Membership Desk in the Great Court to check availability as we may be able to admit additional Members if we receive cancellations.

If your preferred date is fully booked or not available, please contact the Membership Office at friends@britishmuseum.org

Are you a new Member and don't yet have your Membership number? You can still book your free entry online by entering your purchase reference number at the checkout. If you're visiting before your Membership card arrives, on the day of your visit, please bring the confirmation emails of your Membership purchase to the Membership Desk in the Great Court. We'll then issue a temporary card to access your on-site benefits.

Read the Membership FAQs page for any queries about your visit, or contact us at friends@britishmuseum.org

To ensure Members have the best experience, we're offering a range of Members-exclusive early morning and late night viewings. We'll continue to offer online events and content for you to explore the exhibition from the comfort of your own home.

We hope to welcome you back soon.

Discover Thomas Becket

Get up close to the man, the murder and the legend through an incredible array of objects associated with Becket, including medieval stained glass, manuscripts, jewellery and sacred reliquaries. It will feature artefacts from the Museum's collection as well as important loans from other major collections from the UK and around the world.

Exhibition supporters

Supported by

The Hintze Family Charitable Foundation


The Ruddock Foundation for the Arts
The Ruddock Foundation for the Arts supports museums and performing art with a focus on education and conservation. Its Chair, Sir Paul Ruddock is a trustee of the British Museum and the family were the major supporters of the renovation of the Medieval Europe Gallery and the Sutton Hoo and Early Medieval Europe Gallery at the Museum.

Jack Ryan and Zemen Paulos

The Project Curator for Thomas Becket is supported by the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art.

We would also like to thank members of the Becket Curators’ Circle for their generous support of the exhibition:
•    Claudio Chittaro 
•    Pamela Cross
•    Nicholas and Jane Ferguson
•    Nicholas and Judith Goodison
•    The Sandra Hindman Foundation
•    Steven Larcombe and Sonya Leydecker
•    Richard and Amicia Oldfield
•    Vogelgezang Foundation

Contact the Membership office

Email: friends@britishmuseum.org
Phone: +44 (0)20 7323 8195

Opening times 
Monday–Friday: 10.00–16.00
Closed: weekends and bank holidays

Visit the Membership FAQs for the latest information.