St Thomas More Vault

Sir Thomas More, later St Thomas More, was the Lord High Chancellor of England from October 1529 to 16 May 1532, in the reign of King Henry VIII.   He opposed the Protestant Reformation and King Henry’s separation from the Catholic Church. 

Sir Thomas More refused to acknowledge the king as Supreme Head of the Church of England, and the annulment of his marriage to Catherine of Aragon.  After refusing to take the Oath of Supremacy, More was convicted of treason and beheaded.  His head was placed on a pike on London Bridge.was beheaded at Tower Hill on 6 July 1535.   

Margaret, his beloved daughter, who lived opposite St Dunstan's Church, retrieved his head from a stake on London Bridge where it had been ‘displayed’ after the execution at The Tower of London and brought it back to Canterbury. 

St Thomas More's head lies buried in the crypt of the Roper Chapel in St Dunstan's Church, together with the remains of Margaret and son-in-law, William Roper.  His torso is buried at the Tower of London.  

The Fellowship of St Thomas More was founded in 1971 by Rev Hugh Albin, the then Vicar of St Dunstan’s.  Coming from Northern Ireland, Rev Albin saw an opportunity for people of different backgrounds from around the world to unite behind, and cherish, the memory of St Thomas More; a man of courage and integrity.  The aim of the Fellowship is to encourage research into Tudor times and support the values upheld by More.

Every year on 6 July, the date of St Thomas More's execution, the Fellowship holds a commemorative civic service, which is attended by the Lord Mayor and members of the legal profession, with an address by a scholar or public figure.  

Because of the covid-19 restrictions, it was not possible to hold a public St Thomas More Memorial Service in 2020.  Instead, on Monday 6th July, a quiet, reflective, online service was conducted by Rev Brian McHenry.  Click here to view this special service or view below. Note: The service starts at 5 mins 15 seconds from the beginning. 

The most recent address to a Commemoration Service is found by clicking here.

The knowledge that More’s head is interred in the vault at St Dunstan's Church is one reason why so many pilgrims come to visit.  There are plans to gradually improve both the information and ‘experience’ available to visitors. Leaflets on St Thomas More are usually available in the Church.

If you would like to learn more about St Thomas More, there are several films and documentaries available on the internet and YouTube.    

If you would like more information about the Fellowship, please contact the Benefice Office below or use the Contact Us form.