March 5, 2015
King John reunited with Magna Carta
4 March 2015
King John has been reunited with Magna Carta at a special event to commemorate Worcestershire as the Home of Liberty and Democracy.
Thirteenth Century barons have stormed their way into the historic Worcester Cathedral, resting place of King John and home of his great tomb, surmounted by the oldest royal effigy in England.
There they confronted him with a copy of Magna Carta, recreating the moment 800 years ago that put in place one of the most important building blocks on the road to democracy in Britain and the world.
The re-enactment highlights the role Worcestershire has played time and again in the struggle for Liberty and Democracy. From Magna Carta to the English Civil War and beyond, the beautiful hills, lands and rivers of Worcestershire have borne witness to the struggles and battles that have created the freedoms we enjoy today.
To celebrate this legacy, an unparalleled programme of historic, immersive and fun events will take place here in the heart of England over the next 18 months. Details of all events can be found at www.visitworcestershire.org/magnacarta. The main events are listed later in this press pack.
Worcestershire, Home of Liberty and Democracy is a programme supported by Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), Worcester Cathedral, Museums Worcestershire, the Simon de Montfort Society, Battle of Evesham 2015, Worcestershire County Council, Worcester City Council, Wychavon District Council, Worcestershire Historical Society, Visit Worcestershire, Herefordshire and Worcestershire Chamber of Commerce and the University of Worcester.
King John and Magna Carta
2015 marks the 800th anniversary of the sealing of Magna Carta by King John. For the first time, the rule of law was given precedence over the rule of the monarch.
By the time of this momentous event on 19 June 1215, King John had already formed a special relationship with Worcester and the surrounding county. He often visited Worcester Cathedral to worship at the shrine of Saint Wulfstan. His favourite hunting grounds were nearby in forests at Wyre, Feckenham and The Chase.
But his relationship with the county was destined to be bittersweet. As civil war brewed and the King was forced to concede many of his powers under Magna Carta, Worcester declared for the rebellious barons.
In July 1216, the King’s forces recaptured the city, but the monarch’s days were numbered. He died in October that year, specifying in his will that he be buried in Worcester Cathedral. His will and artefacts will be on display in the Cathedral library from September 2015.
John’s great tomb is a masterpiece of early thirteenth-century sculpture. It gives Worcestershire a direct link to the story of Magna Carta, and to the story of Liberty and Democracy, that is genuinely unique.
The Very Reverend Peter Atkinson, Dean of Worcester, said: “Worcester Cathedral boasts a unique role in the story of Magna Carta that no other place can claim. We have King John’s tomb and his will, giving visitors a direct connection with the monarch who, whether he liked it or not, sealed the document that established the principle of the rule of law.”