The Life, Death and Cult of Thomas Becket: A Conversation with Dr. John Jenkins

Canterbury Cathedral, from the East.

I vividly recall watching the movie Becket on late-night TV at the age of ten. The story of the medieval archbishop who is gruesomely murdered in his own cathedral has enthralled me ever since. Thanks to Dr. John Jenkins, I finally got a chance to tell that story properly to my students.

This two-part podcast is part of my course ARTH 2202: Architecture and Art of the Middle Ages. In part one, John Jenkins discusses the life and martyrdom of Thomas Becket. In part two, he takes us on a pilgrimage to the shrine in the year 1408.

For my course, these podcasts were integrated with video lectures on Canterbury Cathedral and English Gothic. But the story of Becket stands on its own, as it has for 850 years.

You can get John Jenkins’ latest book, Pilgrimage and England’s Cathedrals, here.

Be sure to check out the virtual reconstructions that John and his team made of the sites in Canterbury Cathedral associated with Becket’s cult. See them as a visitor in 1408 would have, at this link.

Music was by Sine Nomine Ensemble for Medieval Music, from their CD A Golden Treasury of Mediaeval Music. It’s available for purchase, or can be streamed on Spotify.

And, here are a few of the places mentioned by John:

The site of Becket’s murder in the north transept.

The site of Becket’s shrine, now marked only by a candle.

The Nave of Canterbury Cathedral.

Peter Coffman

Supervisor, History & Theory of Architecture program