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The British Library at St. Pancras, London is home to two copies of Magna Carta. One barely survived the disastrous fire which swept through the original manuscript collection of Sir Robert Cotton in 1731. Magna Carta is written on parchment, rather than paper and in Medieval Latin. It could never have been understood by anyone other than educated nobility, the clergy and of course the King.

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I am delighted to have been asked to speak to you this evening. This is an event which marks a number of important themes. As we have heard, we celebrate a major anniversary – the 50th anniversary of the Magna Carta Trust...

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