British Museum’s Thomas Becket show to feature ‘miracle’ stained glass window

Robert Dex
·1-min read
<p>A detail of the huge stained glass window being loaned to the British Museum</p> (British Museum)

A detail of the huge stained glass window being loaned to the British Museum

(British Museum)

A huge 800-year-old stained glass window will take pride of place in a new British Museum show about one of the most notorious murders in British history.

Thomas Becket: Murder and the Making of a Saint opens in April and will tell how the merchant’s son rose to become Archbishop of Canterbury before he was hacked down in his own cathedral probably on the orders of King Henry II.

His murder was considered a scandalous act of sacrilege and, within days, miracles were being attributed to Becket, many connected to the healing power of his spilt blood, which lead to his canonisation as a saint by the Pope.

The window, which is more than six metres high, is one of seven "miracle" windows surviving from the original 12, which were made in the early 1200s to surround his shrine and tell the story of the miracles.

The Thomas Becket ‘miracle’ windowBritish Museum
The Thomas Becket ‘miracle’ windowBritish Museum

The removal of the window for it to be loaned for the first time in its history revealed that some of its panels have been in the wrong order for centuries - probably since the 1660s - and they will be rearranged in the correct order for the show.

Exhibition co-curator Lloyd de Beer said: “The violent death of Thomas Becket is the ultimate true crime story.

"It’s a real-life tale as dramatic as Game of Thrones and we’re going to lead visitors through every twist and turn of this remarkable plot.

"There’s drama, fame, royalty, power, envy, retribution, and ultimately a brutal murder that shocked Europe.”

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