Beware a gory murder at the cathedral

A statue of Thomas a Becket
A statue of Thomas a Becket
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Read any good novel about a cathedral and you will discover intrigue and mystery, romance and conflict and sometimes even murder.

You’d have to visit Portsmouth Cathedral yourself to see if any of these plot twists are remotely true but if you come at the beginning of October you may very well encounter a gruesome and very gory murder.

Portsmouth Cathedral, known as the Cathedral of the Sea, is dedicated to St Thomas of Canterbury, perhaps better known as Archbishop Thomas Becket who was murdered in Canterbury Cathedral on December 29, 1170.

Some of King Henry’s knights overheard the king grumbling about the archbishop and took it upon themselves to ride to Canterbury and deal with this turbulent priest.

TS Eliot wrote a play about this historic event which was first performed at Canterbury in 1935.

Each year, in early October, we hold a festival at Portsmouth Cathedral which celebrates the life of this place.

As part of this year’s festival we are working with Southsea Shakespeare Actors to put on two performances on October 1 and 2.

Rehearsals are currently underway and, despite auditioning to be a knight or a tempter, I have been cast as a priest – typecasting, some would say!

I’m enjoying the rehearsal process, although I seem to have quite a lot of lines to learn.

You’ll also be pleased to hear that we won’t actually be throwing buckets of fake blood around the cathedral.

The murder is done in a relatively tasteful way, which we hope conveys something of the emotion of the event and less of the gory details.

It promises to be a very exciting production made more so by being set in the cathedral nave and quire.

Tickets are £10 (£8 concessions) and are available via the cathedral bookshop, cathedral box office (023) 9289 2967 or online at ticketsource.co.uk/ssa.

You can also read more about the production and Southsea Shakespeare Actors at southseashakespeareactors.com.

There are many other events taking place over the festival weekend, details of which can be found on the cathedral website, where you can also download a copy of our latest events leaflet giving information about our full programme for the next three months.

Why not pop in to the cathedral, in High Street, Old Portsmouth?

Or go to portsmouthcathedral.org.uk.