Pilgrim badges at Museum of London

A graphic Becket pilgrim badge

The Museum of London has the country’s largest collection of pilgrim badges and to mark this Becket2020 anniversary year it has put some on display.

The varied pewter badges were the souvenir to be brought back to the capital from Canterbury by pilgrims.

Hundreds of these souvenirs have been recovered from London excavations and mudlarking activity along the Thames.

There is some evidence that once back home pilgrims nailed their badge to a wall or beam as a reminder of their walk of a lifetime.

There are just four cabinets put out for this special year by the museum but each item is accompanied by interesting information.

The label under the bells reads: ‘An Intolerable racket’.

Apparently some tiny bells were sold in London to those setting out.

In 1407 someone complained that the large numbers of pilgrims on the road had become a nuisance ‘what with the noise of their singing…the sound of their piping and with the jangling of their Canterbury bells, and with the barking of dogs after them’.

Admission to the Museum of London is free.

A first hand account of Becket’s murder in the museum.

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