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June 17, 2015

Magna Carta changed the world, David Cameron tells anniversary event

BBC News, Monday 15th June, 2015
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Magna Carta went on to change the world, Prime Minister David Cameron has said, at an ceremony in Surrey marking the 800th anniversary of the document that heralded modern democracy.

The event at Runnymede, where King John sealed the original accord in 1215, was attended by the Queen and other royals.
The Duke of Cambridge unveiled a commemorative art work at the site.

The Charter first protected the rights and freedoms of society and established that the king was subject to the law.

The Duke of Edinburgh and the Princess Royal also attended the ceremony, along with the Archbishop of Canterbury, senior judges, US Attorney General Loretta Lynch and members of the American Bar Association, which erected a memorial to the charter at Runnymede in the 1950s.

Magna Carta originated as a peace treaty between King John and a group of rebellious barons.

Its influence can be seen in other documents across the world including the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the US Constitution and Bill of Rights.

Speaking at the Magna Carta Memorial, Mr Cameron said the document had inspired different generations and countries.
He said it had had altered forever “the balance of power between the governed and the government”.

“Why do people set such store by Magna Carta? Because they look to history. They see how the great charter shaped the world, for the best part of a millennium, helping to promote arguments for justice and for freedom.”

He also alluded to the government’s plans to replace the Human Rights Act with a British bill of rights, amid its concerns about rulings by the European Court of Human Rights and their application to the UK.

Mr Cameron said in his speech: “It falls to us in this generation to restore the reputation of those rights… It is our duty to safeguard the legacy, the idea, the momentous achievement of those barons.”

The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Reverend Justin Welby, said the document had “set the bar high for all of us today”.

In his address, he reminded the audience how his medieval predecessor Archbishop Stephen Langton played an important role as a mediator in the writing of the Magna Carta.

He also said the Church had failed to support the fight for social justice in the past.

“From the support for enclosures to the opposition to the Great Reform Act, to the toleration of all sorts of abuse, with humility, we recognise these failings,” he said.

Lord Dyson, Master of the Rolls and chairman of the Magna Carta Trust, said the Magna Carta was “a symbol of democracy, justice, human rights and perhaps above all the rule of law for the whole world”.

Lord Dyson, the second most senior judge in England and Wales, said: “A few clauses of Magna Carta are still part of our law, including famously the provision that no free man shall be taken or imprisoned except by the lawful judgment of his peers or by the law of the land; and to no-one will we sell, to no-one will we deny or delay right or justice.”

The art installation unveiled by Prince William, called The Jurors, is inspired by the 39th clause of Magna Carta, which gives the right to a jury trial. Artist Hew Locke said it was a “great honour” to be chosen to produce the piece.

Princess Anne rededicated the US memorial, saying Magna Carta “provides us with one of our most basic doctrines – that no person is above the law.

“In recent history and even today we see in many parts of the world that power without the rule of law can lead to human suffering of terrible proportions. But it takes all of us to stand up for these principles.”

A replica of Magna Carta began its journey down the Thames on Saturday as part of the commemorations. The Royal Barge Gloriana led 200 boats from Hurley in Berkshire to Runnymede.

There are just four known copies of the original Magna Carta in existence today, from an estimated 13 that were made. Two are held by the British Library, with Salisbury Cathedral and Lincoln Cathedral holding the others.

This article was originally published with images and further analysis. Click here to read the article as it originally appeared in full.

In Pictures: Magna Carta’s 800th anniversary – BBC News

BBC News, Monday 15th June, 2015
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The BBC featured a series of excellent photos of events at Magna Carta Day, which took place on 15th June, 2015 at Runnymede.

Click here to view these images.

June 14, 2015

Magna Carta scribes identified ahead of 800th anniversary

BBC News, Sunday 14th June
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Scientists have identified the scribes who wrote two of the four original 1215 copies of the Magna Carta.

They found the copies held in Lincoln and Salisbury were written by scribes based at those cathedrals, rather than by someone working for King John.

The discovery was made ahead of the 800th anniversary of the historic charter on Monday.

Lead investigator Professor Nicholas Vincent, said to identify the authors was a “significant achievement”.

He said after 800 years it was “certainly equivalent to finding needles in a very large haystack”.
The new discovery sheds further light on the Church’s role in the creation and distribution of Magna Carta – which sought to restrain the powers of the king.

Professor Vincent said: “It has become apparent, not least as a result of work undertaken for the Magna Carta Project, that the bishops of England were crucial to both the publication and the preservation of Magna Carta.

“King John had no real intention that the charter be either publicised or enforced. It was the bishops instead who insisted that it be distributed to the country at large and thereafter who preserved it in their cathedral archives.”

The project, involving academics from the University of East Anglia and King’s College London, found the Lincoln Magna Carta was written by a scribe who produced several other documents for the Bishop of Lincoln and Salisbury’s was “probably” made by someone working for the cathedral’s dean and chapter.

Project team member David Carpenter, a professor of medieval history at King’s College, said: “We now know that three of the four surviving originals of the charter went to cathedrals: Lincoln, Salisbury and Canterbury. Probably cathedrals were the destination for the great majority of the other original charters issued in 1215.

“This overturns the old view that the charters were sent to the sheriffs in charge of the counties. That would have been fatal since the sheriffs were the very people under attack in the charter.
“They would have quickly consigned Magna Carta to their castle furnaces.”

A replica of the Great Charter began its journey down the Thames on Saturday as part of events to mark its 800th anniversary.

The Royal Barge Gloriana is leading 200 boats from Hurley in Berkshire to Runnymede in Surrey, where the document was signed, over two days.

Magna Carta celebrations begin on River Thames

BBC News, 13th June
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A replica of Magna Carta is being carried down the Thames as part of events to mark its 800th anniversary.

The Royal Barge Gloriana is leading 200 boats from Hurley in Berkshire to Runnymede in Surrey over two days.

Magna Carta was granted by King John on 15 June 1215, establishing that the king was subject to the law rather than being above it.

Twenty-three local people have been chosen as “charter bearers” to relay the document.

The pageant, which started at 09:00 BST, has been organised by Thames Alive, with support from Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead, Runnymede borough and Spelthorne borough councils.

As the copy of Magna Carta is transported downstream, actors will recount its story.

Charter bearers, who live, work or study in one of the three boroughs, will carry the document on board the Royal Shallop Jubilant.

The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee barge, Gloriana, is the flagship of the flotilla.

Five-time Olympic gold medallist rower Sir Steve Redgrave, from Marlow, Buckinghamshire, watched as it passed through his home town.

“It’s the first row barge that has been built for 300 years so it’s pretty spectacular,” he said.

The event will culminate with the unveiling of a 4m (13ft) bronze statue of the Queen at Runnymede Pleasure Grounds on Sunday.

Road closures will be in place during the celebrations in Berkshire and Surrey.

The flotilla is due to arrive at Oakley Court Hotel, Windsor, at 20:00. The replica Magna Carta’s journey will pause overnight before commencing at 09:00 on Sunday.

Principles set out in Magna Carta charted the right to a fair trial and limits on taxation without representation.

It also inspired a number of other documents, including the US Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

April 21, 2015

BBC: Copy of Magna Carta for every UK primary school

The BBC
By Judith Burns, Education reporter
21st April, 2015.
Click here to read the original article.

Every primary school in the UK is to be sent a copy of Magna Carta to help pupils learn how the document forms the basis of many modern freedoms.

The aim is to explain the legacy of Magna Carta, as the 800th anniversary nears of its sealing by King John.

The charter is considered a cornerstone of the British constitution.

This is an “epic narrative that continues to shape our world”, said Sir Robert Worcester, chairman of the Magna Carta 800th Anniversary Committee.

As well as a copy of the document, the schools will receive two young person’s guides to Magna Carta, explaining its significance to current political events.

These are a timeline wall-chart and a tabloid-style newspaper called the Magna Carta Chronicle, which together set out the history of the past 800 years in “the fight for freedom and rights”.

The initiative, led by the Magna Carta Trust and funded by charitable donations to the 800th Anniversary Committee, is part of ongoing celebrations of the document.

Magna Carta was sealed by King John on 15 June 1215, forced by a group of rebellious barons.

It was the first formal document to limit the power of the King, stating that a King had to follow the laws of the land and guaranteeing the rights of individuals.

It laid the foundations of trial by jury and of Parliament.

Sir Robert said the initiative would give young people the chance to learn more about the history and significance of Magna Carta.

“The fight for freedom and rights and the rule of law is a global story but one that should be extra special to everyone living in the UK, since its origins and dramas – from the freedom to choose our rulers and religion, to equality of opportunity and the right to live without fear of unlawful imprisonment – are so inextricably linked to the history of Britain itself,” he said.

“All these, and many other freedoms, are charted in this unique young person’s guide in a highly accessible and visually stunning style which all began when the will of the King was first challenged by 25 barons in the water meadow at Runnymede on 15 June 1215.”

Christopher Lloyd of publishers What on Earth? designed and wrote the guides in collaboration with illustrator Andy Forshaw.

The guides link Magna Carta with modern struggles for freedoms and rights, for example Malala Yousafzai’s campaign for the right of girls across the globe to an education.

Mr Lloyd said the aim had been to connect “the fragment of history of the signing of Magna Carta on a piece of parchment and put it into the context of an 800-year story”.

He said he wanted the timeline to be like the thread of a necklace with historic moments, which saw modern liberties and freedoms gradually developed over 800 years, like beads on the thread.

The pack will be sent out to all the UK’s 21,000 state primary schools later in April.

The publishers have also provided a series of free online lesson plans and activities.

Click here for more information about the Magna Carta Chronicle.

April 1, 2015

Lincoln Castle reopens after £22m refurbishment

The BBC, Wednesday 1st April.

Lincoln Castle has re-opened following a £22m renovation.

The work, which has taken four years, has seen a vault built to house one of the original copies of the Magna Carta, ready for its 800th anniversary in June.

A new wall walk has been installed and the Victorian prison will also reopen to visitors.
The work was funded by Lincolnshire County Council, Heritage Lottery money and private donations.

The high-security underground vault will house the 1215 Magna Carta, alongside an original copy of the Charter of the Forest, which was signed two years later.

Castle manager Rachael Thomas said the Lincoln Castle Revealed project has given the document “the home it deserves”.

“Not only is Magna Carta a cornerstone of our justice system, but it has served as an inspiration to other nations around the globe,” she said.

The county council, which runs the castle, said it hopes the vault will make the castle an attraction for international visitors.

Built by William the Conqueror in the 11th Century, it has been closed for the last three months while finishing touches were made to the refurbishment work.

Work was disrupted when a Saxon skeleton was found in 2013 and more recently when adaptations had to be found to accommodate bats on the site.

Cash for the improvements came from the council, Heritage Lottery Fund, European Regional Development Fund, David Ross Foundation, Garfield Weston Foundation and private donations.

Click here to read this article as it originally appeared in the BBC.

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