Thomas Becket John Guy

Jan Leeming

Shoreham 2007

Shoreham Airshow 2007
Me looking brave before taking to the air (and the wing) of the plane. Wow, it was cold !! But the whole experience was totally exhilarating.



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Jan's Blog

Computers and the internet are amazing things. One of my concerns with putting together this site was that it could remain current, yet with all my travelling I've often much to say, but little time to say it. Years ago when reading the news it would take me days on end to reply to the kind letters people sent. Now, with the magic of the modern age, I can keep you up to date with what I'm doing and other events in my life.


Date: 22nd May 2012


I recently remarked to a friend that I didn’t know why I bother with my Blogs as I get so little feed back though I can see from the Analysis that people are brought into it from all over the world – not because they know me but they google a subject and if it is something about which I’ve written then they are brought to the Site. (I spend a great deal of time attempting to write in a grammatical and interesting way and putting in the photos takes some time as they all have to be entered individually)

Well, last night, I had an absolutely lovely surprise. I’d told many people about the upcoming talk in the Cathedral by John Guy on his recently released book ‘Thomas Becket’. I bought the book weeks ago and found it fascinating so had spread the word and also got together a small party of friends to attend the talk.

I’m so glad I’d read the book because the talk meant that much more to me having prior knowledge of the subject. The Nave was full – the Exhibition was fascinating *- and the talk riveting. There was time for a few questions and two of us in my row put up our hands. The other lady was chosen and I couldn’t believe she asked the question – better put than I could have phrased it - that I wanted to ask as to whether Becket was embracing his martyrdom. John Guy’s answer was excellent as one would expect from such a scholar.

Now to the point of the story. Across the aisle I noticed an extremely attractive woman and as we got up to leave she approached me and said “I’m John’s wife and want to thank you for what you said about his book on your website” – I was flabbergasted. How very kind to even think of thanking me. And then John himself approached – hugged me, gave me a kiss and signed my book. So that alone makes the price of maintaining the website more than worthwhile.

If you have an interest in Thomas Becket and his relationship with Henry II – and the complicated politics (lay and ecclesiastical)  which led to Becket’s murder, then do buy John Guy’s book. Although he is an academic, the book is written in a way which makes it very accessible to the interested layman. I love the way he’s constructed the Index – don’t think I’ve ever come across one so easy to use and cross reference. It is a 'story'  which I shall read several times before I ‘shuffle off this mortal coil’.

*The Exhibition comprised some excerpts from manuscripts of the time of Becket and one had his signature from when he was Henry II’s Chancellor. It was thrilling to see it. There was a piece of marble from the shrine destroyed on the orders of Henry VIII in 1538. And there were replica vestments worn by Becket – the originals being at the monastery of Bec in France (not named after him but a monastery of the Benedictine Order - the order which inhabited St. Augustine’s Priory and Canterbury Cathedral) There were other fascinating bits and pieces but, because of the queues and crowds, one couldn’t really spend as much time as one would have liked absorbing the exhibits. Needless to say, I couldn’t take any photos to show you although I did suggest to the Head of the Cathedral Archives that if they had replicas or postcards made from the documents they might prove a valuable source of extra income in the shop – I’d certainly buy facsimiles. The Archive is closed for renovation at the moment but the artefacts on show this evening would not normally be viewable by the public so it really was a unique opportunity.

John Guy, despite the Becket book being of the Mediaeval period, is a Tudor historian and has written many books about that time.  As it is a period which fascinates me, I can see my reading list will be full for a long time to come.

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