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Thomas a Becket. David Austin English Rose. Photo credit: Rose review:
Color: Red David Austin roses Disease resistance: Excellent Flowering: Repeat flowering Fragrance: medium Ideal: Shady areas Rose: Shrub rose

Thomas à Becket Rose Review | David Austin 2013

Thomas à Becket rose


Fragrance Strength


Repeat Flowering


Bloom Size




Suitable for containers


Tolerant of shade


Disease resistance


Tolerance of poor soil


Few thorns


Best for cuttings



  • Productivity: best for flowering
  • Large blooms: 3.5 – 5’’ or 9 – 12.5 cm
  • Very vigorou
  • Extremely disease resistant: "excellent"
  • Tolerant of shade


  • Fragrance strength: "medium"



English Shrub Rose bred by David Austin

David Austin

“This is a variety of very different character from the general run of English Roses, being rather closer to the Species Roses than to the Old Roses and more natural and shrubby in growth. A striking crimson-red; the individual flowers can best be described as shallowly cupped, opening as informal rosettes; the petals quickly reflexing as the flowers age. They are held in medium-sized heads; the individual blooms nodding attractively on the stem. They have an Old Rose fragrance with a strong lemon zest character. It forms a strong, rather informal shrub. Named for Canterbury Cathedral. David Austin, 2013”.

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David Austin introduced Thomas à Becket for the UK in 2013. He named this rose after Thomas à Becket, also known as Saint Thomas of Canterbury, Thomas of London. Thomas à Becket was born on 21 December 1119 and murdered on 29 December 1170. He engaged in conflict with Henry II, King of England, over the rights and privileges of the Church. Thomas à Becket was murdered by the followers of Henry II in Canterbury Cathedral. Just for your information, Canterbury Cathedral is one of the oldest (founded in 597) and most famous Christian structures in England.

This rose closely resembles Thomas à Becket. They are both renowned for their strong and vibrant personality. Similar to species roses, Thomas à Becket is one of the best David Austin roses for informal rose hedges.

Similar to species roses, Thomas à Becket is one of the best David Austin roses for informal rose hedges”.

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 Species roses: What are they?

Species roses are the ones that we found in nature. Many also call them wild roses. Compared with other kinds of roses, species roses are extremely robust and hardy. They thrive in tough conditions that hardly any other kinds of roses can survive with minimum maintenance. In addition, they are extremely well resistant to pests and diseases. There are approximately 200 species roses. However, only about 20 of them are popular around the world. If you want to know more about species roses, this is a beautiful piece of writing for you.

Thomas à Becket rose: The pros

  • Best for flowering

The best trait of Thomas à Becket rose is his productivity. In the Handbook of Roses 2019/2020,  David Austin voted Thomas à Becket as one of his best rose varieties for flowering! Like species roses, Thomas à Becket does bloom his heart out! However, even better, Thomas à Becket is very well repeated-flowering, while many species roses are only once flowering.

Next, Thomas à Becket produces extremely gorgeous and large blooms (3.5 – 5’’ or 9 – 12.5 cm). The blooms are vividly Crimson-red. Interestingly, Thomas à Becket produce beautifully varied bloom forms. In the earlier stage, his blooms are shallowly cupped. Then, in the later stage, they become informal rosettes. Despite his large blooms, he hardly flops! Therefore, it is very easy for you to enjoy his beauty every day.

Not surprisingly, Thomas à Becket is a vigorous and exceptionally healthy rose. He requires a very little effort from you for maintenance. At the end of the day, this makes him very similar to species roses. They are naturally beautiful and particularly resistant to all kinds of diseases, such as rose rust, black spot, and pests.

Finally, Thomas à Becket can tolerate a good amount of shade. As a result, he can almost thrive in whatever condition you can provide him with, including against a North-facing wall.

Thomas à Becket rose: The cons

Thomas à Becket is such a strong rose. If I must pick up one thing as a weakness of his, it would be the strength of his fragrance.   David Austin rates his fragrance as “medium”, which is slight light, according to many rosarians. However, his strengths discussed above can more than enough compensate for this weakness.

Thomas à Becket  rose: The similarities

In terms of colour,  Thomas à Becket resembles Falstaff, Young Lycidas and Gabriel Oak, which is a new introduction in 2019. Falstaff rose (4ft height x 3 ft spread) forms a smaller shrub than Thomas à Becket (4.5 ft x 4.5 ft). Falstaff also produces a “medium” fragrance like Thomas à Becket. However, you need to plant Falstaff in a full sunlight spot, whereas Thomas à Becket can tolerate shade. Young Lycidas provides you with a similar size shrub (4 ft x 4 ft) with Thomas à Becket. However, it cannot tolerate shade. On the other hand, its fragrance is described as “strong”. Among those 4 roses, Gabriel Oak may be the best alternative. He can tolerate shade and produce a “strong” fragrance. He also makes a very attractive, shapely shrub in your garden (4 ft x 4 ft).

Thomas à Becket  rose: The details

Height & Spread: 4.5ft x 4.5ft Color: Crimson-red Fragrance: Medium
Fragrance notes: Old rose Flowering: Repeat flowering Suitable for containers: No
Sun exposure: Partial sunlight Bloom size: Large (3.5 – 5’’ or 9 – 12.5 cm) Disease resistance: Excellent

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Thank you for the interesting post. I really like the colour of Thomas a becket DA rose. It is a pity that it cannot tolerate the shade. How many hours of sunlight do you know it needs? team

Thank you Sophie for your comment. Indeed, Thomas a Becket rose can tolerate shade. Not as much as Lady of Shalott though. He is such a vigorous rose. Like a wild rose, he can thrive in very tough conditions. David Austin suggested gardeners plant his roses where they can get at least 4 hours of sun.

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