Holy Trinity Church, Stratford-upon-Avon commemorates St Thomas Becket

Last autumn, vicar of Holy Trinity Stratford, the Revd Patrick Taylor opened a new St. Thomas Becket exhibition with prayers and a blessing. Then, on the 22nd November a commemorative sermon was broadcast by Canon Dr. Tim Naish from Canterbury Cathedral, starting by the tomb of John de Stratford.

2020 marked the 850th anniversary of the brutal murder of Archbishop Thomas Becket in Canterbury Cathedral on 29 December 1170; it was also the 800th anniversary of the Translation (relocation) of his remains from the cathedral’s crypt to a magnificent shrine in its Trinity Chapel on 7 July 1220. Canonised within three years of his murder, Becket became a saintly medieval superstar, with Canterbury a focus of pilgrimage throughout Europe, surpassed only by Rome and Santiago de Compostela, and making him an enduring international celebrity.

Holy Trinity Stratford also became a focus of medieval pilgrimage. Pilgrims came to the chantry chapel of St Thomas Becket in the south aisle of the nave, built in 1331 by John de Stratford, then Bishop of Winchester. He was later made Archbishop of Canterbury in 1333 and narrowly escaped a similar fate to Becket. Hence Canon Naish’s acknowledgement of de Stratford, and the inclusion of the history of Holy Trinity’s Becket Chapel and world-wide pilgrimage in the exhibition.

The exhibition was project managed by Dr Lindsay MacDonald. The impressive display boards, designed by Orion Johnson, were supplemented by a beautiful watercolour of the church’s Becket chapel, imagined in its medieval heyday by local artist, Janet Hall. Both generously volunteered their time and creative gifts to the project. Their contributions can be viewed, with Canon Naish’s sermon and associated articles researched and written by Sandra MacDonald on Holy Trinity Stratford's webiste.


First published on: 22nd February 2021