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July 28, 2015

Programme revealed for star-studded Lincoln Magna Carta Festival 800

The Lincolnite, Tuesday 28th July 2015.
Click here to read the article as it originally appeared.

With just one month to go until a Magna Carta festival featuring a host of celebrities, international artists and human rights activists kicks off in Lincoln, a full programme has been revealed.

Festival 800 runs from August 28 until September 6, demonstrating how Magna Carta’s focus on liberty, justice and freedom of speech have shaped today’s society.

The festival will be launched with the unveiling of a giant Magna Carta inspired sand sculpture by artists Remy and Paul Hoggard at Lincoln Castle.

A packed programme of events features a range of world-rennowned artists including Billy Bragg, David Starkey, the Levellers, Shappi Khorsandi, YouTube sensation Alfie Deyes, musician James Rhodes and Poet Laureate Dame Carol Ann Duffy, DBE, FRSL.

Information on the full lineup is now available on the Festival 800 website and in a special booklet from venues and shops across the region.

Set to be held in venues across Lincoln, including Lincoln Castle, The Collection, Lincoln Drill Hall and LPAC, events are set to be exciting, personal and fit for all the family.

People will have the chance to hear inspirational stories of personal strength and courage.

The family of Rosa Parks is making the trip from Detroit to talk about their ‘Auntie Rosa’ who is seen as the ‘mother’ of the US civil rights movement.

Eva Clarke, one of the youngest survivors of the Holocaust will also be sharing her amazing story of survival.

Also ‘Listen to the Banned’ will bring together musicians from across the world who have faced censorship to share their stories and music freely.

One of the hottest acts on the bill, Youtube sensation Alfie Deyes’ book signing at the Drill Hall.

Tickets are now on sale and are expected to sell out fast. Alfie’s Pointless Blog is followed 4 million people.

As well as its main programme of events, Festival 800 will also be partnering with the annual Steam Punk Festival, the Children’s Festival of History and Hartsholme Country Park Magna Carta Trail, all of which take place at the end of August and beginning of September.

Festival 800 has been organised by cultural solutions UK on behalf of Lincolnshire County Council and supported by the National Lottery through Arts Council England.

David Lambert, festival director, said: “Festival 800 will examine, celebrate and at times challenge freedom of speech and expression within a 21st century context.

“The diverse programme is a true credit to everyone that has been working hard behind the scenes and there is something for everyone to enjoy on the programme and we can’t wait to see what public reaction will be now that all the events have been announced.”

Executive Member for Culture and Heritage at Lincolnshire County Council, Councillor Nick Worth added: “Thousands of people have already taken part in this year’s Magna Carta 800 celebrations, creating a real buzz around the city.

“Festival 800 is another chance to join in, and, with such an eclectic line-up, there’s something for all tastes. Make sure you’re a part of this historic moment.”

June 8, 2015

Princess Anne officially reopens Lincoln Castle

Monday 8th June, The BBC
Click here to read the article as it appeared on the site.

Princess Anne has officially reopened Lincoln Castle after a multi-million pound refurbishment.

The £22m works, which finished in March, included the construction of a vault for the city’s copy of Magna Carta.

A new exhibition in the Victorian prison will display objects found in the grounds during the renovation.

Exhibits include a facial reconstruction of a Saxon man, whose skeleton was found in the grounds.

There will also be a bronze Roman eagle and a limestone sarcophagus on show.

Antony Lee, of Lincoln Museum, said some exhibits dated back 2,000 years.

“What’s nice is we can show them very close to where they were excavated,” he said.

The reopening ceremony was open only to winners of a ballot.

Princess Anne entered the grand gate of the East Wing before greeting the assembled crowd and unveiling the plaque.

She also walked the castle walls, visited the Magna Carta vault and the Victoria Prison and is set to visit Boston Stump for a service of dedication.

May 1, 2015

Lincoln Castle triples visitor numbers after Magna Carta refurbishment

BBC News, 1st May 2015
Click here to read the article as it originally appeared on the BBC.

A castle that had a multi-million pound vault built to house a surviving copy of Magna Carta has almost tripled visitor numbers.

Lincoln Castle underwent a £22m renovation project ready for the document’s 800th anniversary.
Castle manager Rachel Thomas said about 34,000 people visited in April – up 21,000 on last year.
Last month, the castle was named as one of 12 sites in the county that could be outsourced to save the council money.

Since the 11th Century castle reopened at the beginning of April, 33,941 people have visited, compared with 12,503 last April.

Lincoln’s copy of Magna Carta, is one of only four surviving copies.

Ms Thomas said she had not expected so many visitors.

“Partly, no doubt, the coverage around Magna Carta and the raising in the public consciousness of Magna Carta has helped,” she said.

The renovation project included a new wall walk and the reopening of the Victorian prison to visitors.

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

The work was funded by Lincolnshire County Council, Heritage Lottery money and private donations.
The authority said a final decision on whether to outsource 12 attractions including the castle, Gainsborough Old Hall and the Museum of Lincolnshire Life has not yet been made.

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.

March 19, 2015

Magna Carta: Lincoln gets ready for its close-up

The Telegraph Travel, 19th March
Sophie Campbell

Having toured the world, Lincoln’s Magna Carta is finally coming to rest in a dramatic new setting which will open next month. Sophie Campbell visits ahead of the fanfare.

There are conditions attached; there always are with a superstar. In the case of Lincoln’s Magna Carta, these include temperature (maximum 22C), humidity (40 per cent) and its own personal bodyguard in the form of Chris Woods, the director of the National Conservation Service, who has to be there if it is handled. Like many celebrities, it lives in a vacuum (well almost) and hates light.

As we know, this year is a big one for the four surviving versions of the charter that resulted from King John’s fractious meeting with his barons at Runnymede in 1215. There are new exhibitions at Salisbury Cathedral, which owns one, and the British Library, which owns two. All four documents starred in a February “Unification” event for bigwigs, scholars and 1,250 lucky members of the public.

But Lincoln’s Magna Carta is to the others what Diana Ross is to the Supremes. Not so much for its quality, although it has finely justified calligraphy and holes for a diamond-shaped seal.

No, Lincoln is the only Magna Carta that tours like a diva. London, St Albans, America (twice), Australia. At the end of its triumphant 2014 tour of America, it flew back on an Airbus 380 with its own bed.

Faced with a star of this magnitude, what could Lincolnshire County Council do but build it a dedicated vault, within the walls of Lincoln’s Norman castle and under the gaze of its actual owner, next-door Lincoln Cathedral?

“We started talking about it 10 years ago,” said Mary Powell, who works in tourism for the council and has led on the project from the start. “And of course we thought ahead to 2015, but the castle was also in a terrible state of repair.”

Now here we were on the Wall Walk, high above the six-acre castle bailey. Sections were open before, but it’s now a full circuit and, along with the Vault, is part of the £22 million “Lincoln Castle Revealed” project opening on April 1.

This is the highest point of the Lincoln Edge, carefully chosen by the Norman invaders, and far below farmland stretched away into haze. To one side of us was the cathedral, golden in the light. On the other, within the bailey, a vertical cylinder of trendily rusted steel held a new lift shaft that opens up the wall to wheelchair users. While digging its foundations, workmen found 10 Saxon burials, including a male skeleton in a sarcophagus, and below that Roman remains, possibly from the fort that once ran from the hilltop all the way down to the River Witham.

Beyond this lay two former prisons, one Georgian, one Victorian, and between them the semi-circular roof of the Magna Carta Vault. To the west were the National Skills Centre, housing workshops for “dirty” skills such as masonry and “clean” skills such as textiles, and Lincoln Crown Court.

At ground level, the castle has been opened up so that Lincoln residents can walk through as they cross the city, visiting the café or shop. Paying visitors can access the Wall Walk and the restored prisons, as well as the Vault.

Everything smelled of paint that day. The shop was being stocked, the café – in the room that once housed Magna Carta – was yet to serve any food, and in the prison chapel council employees were experimenting with dummy heads.

I can’t get that image out of my mind. The Victorian prison briefly adopted the “separate system”, the idea being to isolate prisoners, one man per cell, and tall walls divided the exercise yard into cake slices of space, one man per slice. As they filed into head-height chapel pews, each closed a partition behind him, so he was standing in a coffin-shaped space, blind to everything but the preacher. The preacher looked out over a sea of disembodied heads; hence the dummies.

The rest was what you might call “Porridge Vernacular”, with metal walkways and an upper landing. Cells contained displays on prison life and the smaller female wing was partly dedicated to archaeological finds, including the Saxon sarcophagus. A glass floor revealed the basement, converted for use by school groups so that children can dress up and lock themselves (temporarily) in cells.

And so to the vault, which was crawling with busy men in hard hats and hi-vis vests. “Ten years and we’re still going right to the wire,” said Mary wryly, “but you know, all the guys working here are so, so proud of what they’ve done.”

I’m not surprised. The Vault and auditorium were of superb quality, with polished-concrete walls and stairs curving down around the lift shaft to a 210-degree floor-to-ceiling video installation, setting the document in context. A double-height wall showed the entire text of Magna Carta, translated from Latin into English, with the key clauses – the only ones, please note, to have survived in modern legislation – picked out in gold.

The vault itself was the size of a small truck. The first part was polished concrete and the second – the inner sanctum – womb-like terracotta. All was dim. All was quiet. Magna Carta was not there.

Of course it wasn’t. It was recovering from the rigours of the Unification Tour, relaxing in the Lincolnshire Archives, and will appear just in time for the opening. Meanwhile there were three holes in the floor awaiting display cases from Italy: turns out it will share its space with a 1217 Charter of the Forest – almost an appendix – and in front of them will sit the warm-up act, a visiting document that will change every few months. The first will be a “John Charter” from 1213, awarding liberties and freedoms to Lincoln Cathedral.

I barely scratched the surface in Lincoln. There was a stupendous cathedral roof tour, where the guide’s torchlight picked up Norman tunnels disappearing inside the walls, roof spaces bristling with thousand-year-old oak beams, and views on to unwitting visitors in the nave and transepts below. There was the Exchequer Gate, leading to the market square, where Magna Carta may well have been kept in the cathedral archives (it’s said to have hung on the wall for years).

It seems to me that Magna Carta Bagging makes the perfect jaunt, travelling between Lincoln and Salisbury via London, seeing all four documents in situ and in style. The Supremes of early medieval history would expect no less.

To read more of this article at the Telegraph, click here.



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