Young ‘pilgrims’ from Upton Junior School, Broadstairs, have followed in the footsteps of murdered Archbishop Thomas Beckett at Canterbury cathedral.

The Year 4 pupils brought their visit to the historic religious centre to life as they dressed as Thomas Becket, King Henry II, monks, knights and townspeople and followed a costumed trail.

They were told the grisly tale of how and why Becket was slain at the altar in 1170, learned about the four sword shrine at the spot where his body was discovered, and discussed why people pilgrimage to Canterbury.

The visit was part of the year group’s ‘communities’ topic, and they also investigated the importance of the cathedral to the city and to the Christian religion, and the division between the church and the crown.

They created a pilgrim badge by embossing foil with a symbol that meant something personal to them or to their visit to the cathedral – some designed their own coats of arms, whilst others used candles or swords to symbolise Thomas Becket.

Other activities included colouring a stained glass window, and writing their names using a quill pen and ink.

They discovered how workers who built the cathedral created a crane to lift stones, and then tried their skill using a small model of the lifting equipment. Finally they left their mark by etching their names into a limestone block to commemorate their ‘pilgrimage’.

Teacher Nikki Lewis said: “The children had a fascinating time at the cathedral. They learned about the history of the famous building, and why the cathedral is important to the people of Canterbury – both past and present.

“The hands-on activities really engaged them and the story of Thomas Beckett was brought to life through the costume trail, accompanied by child-friendly information.

“It will inspire their classroom work for our ‘communities’ topic and I am sure they will remember this visit for many years.”

Upton Junior School is part of the Viking Academy Trust with Chilton Primary School and Ramsgate Arts Primary School.