Archbishop of Canterbury to Commemorate Thomas Becket

The Archbishop of Canterbury, The Most Revd Justin Welby, will be preaching on the same day and in the same place as his predecessor Thomas Becket preached 850 years earlier

The special service of choral evensong on Friday 11 December at Southwark Cathedral will commemorate the anniversary of Thomas Becket preaching at the Priory of St Mary Overie, now Southwark Cathedral, on 11 December 1170 before heading out of London for Canterbury and his subsequent martyrdom in Canterbury Cathedral on 29 December 1170.

“Back in the Middle Ages, Southwark and Winchester were starting points for pilgrims making their way to Canterbury. We have a long association with this period of history. Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales mentions Southwark in its opening.  This was the very last place where Becket preached. We wanted to mark this part of the story with a special service. We are thrilled that the Archbishop of Canterbury will be delivering a sermon on the very same day and in the same place that his predecessor preached 850 ago.”  

The Very Reverend Andrew Nunn, Dean of Southwark

This service was supposed to be the last in a series of 850 commemorative anniversary events from the Summer, but the pandemic caused most of them to be cancelled. This event has now become the first.

The Bishop of Southwark, The Rt Revd Christopher Chessun, will also be officiating at the service. A relic of St Thomas Becket’s, which is kept at St George’s Roman Catholic Cathedral, Southwark, will be processed in to the cathedral by the Dean of St George’s, Father Philip Andrews.

Thomas Becket was Archbishop of Canterbury from 1162 until his murder in 1170. He is venerated as a saint and martyr in both the Anglican and Roman Catholic Churches. St Thomas’ Hospital in London is named after him.

The evensong service will be held at Southwark Cathedral on Friday 11 December at 5.30pm. To find out more about how you can attend the service or to follow online visit the service page here