A window has been unveiled at the City of London’s Brewers’ Hall to remember the Brewers’ patron St Thomas Becket.
It was commissioned from the Stained Glass Studios at Canterbury Cathedral and designed by its director Léonie Seliger whose work is seen in the Pilgrim’s Way churches at Boughton Aluph and Godmersham.
The design features the Brewers’ Company’s current coat of arms, granted in 1544 following the Reformation when Henry VIII expunged the Becket name from the calendar and banned pilgrimage. But the ‘new’ arms managed a subtle reference to their now secret patron by including a female moorish figure with golden hair to represent Becket’s step mother from North Africa.
Thomas Becket’s father was a malt merchant known as Gilbert the Brewer.
The original Brewers’ shield incorporating Becket’s archbishop arms, with its three choughs proper and pallium, is depicted below.
The Company’s Master Jonathan Neame, the Clerk and the Beadle, together with a number of volunteers from Shepherd Neame Brewery, walked the Pilgrims’ Way to collect the glass. This was handed over to the Master by the Archdeacon of Canterbury on the martyrdom site in Canterbury Cathedral.
The unveiling in London was performed by the Master who is also Shepherd Neame chief executive. His brewery produces the Bishops Finger ale which takes its name from the finger-shaped signposts pointing pilgrims the way to Canterbury and the tomb of Thomas Becket. It is one of the UK’s oldest bottled beers.