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St Albans Magna Carta Celebrations Attract Thousands

Tue, 6 August 2013

Thousands flocked to the St Albans Magna Carta 800th anniversary celebrations at the weekend to see the Magna Carta and watch medieval re-enactments in Verulamium Park.

People queued throughout the weekend to view an original 1215 Magna Carta following its arrival at St Albans Cathedral on 1 August. It is on loan from Lincoln Cathedral until the end of August.

Thousands of visitors also watched historical re-enactments, equestrian displays, archery, warriors training and musicians at the Medieval Festival in Verulamium Park on Saturday and Sunday.

The role of the Magna Carta in the development of constitutional government in Britain and overseas was highlighted in a sell-out lecture at the Cathedral on Friday. The talk on The New British Constitution was given by Professor Vernon Bogdanor, Professor of Government, Institute of Contemporary British History, Kings College, London.

The Magna Carta was also celebrated with a concert on Saturday by The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and St Albans Chamber Choir performing music inspired by freedom and justice at the Cathedral.

This was followed on Sunday with a formal procession in which a facsimile of the Magna Carta was transported from Verulamium Park to the Cathedral. Mayors, judges, Cathedral clergy, aldermen, councillors, yeomen, Knights Templar all joined the procession.

The weekend’s festivities closed with a packed celebratory Evensong in thanksgiving for the Magna Carta and the principles of human freedom and dignity at the Cathedral on Sunday. This included a sermon by the Revd Professor Sir Diarmaid MacCulloch of Oxford University, highlighting the Magna Carta’s continuing relevance to both State and Church.

Cllr Annie Brewster, The Mayor of St Albans City and District, was at the Cathedral to welcome the arrival of the Magna Carta. During the weekend, she also hosted several receptions and attended the various celebration events. She said: “It is difficult to choose a particular highlight from this remarkable Magna Carta 800 weekend as each event was outstanding. Representatives attending from Magna Carta towns planning similar celebrations over the next two years acknowledge the high benchmark St Albans has now set. The Magna Carta journey started here in 1213. Once again, we have been here at the start, kicking off the 800th anniversary celebrations in great style. My thanks and congratulations go to everyone involved.”

The Very Reverend Dr Jeffrey John, The Dean of St Albans Cathedral, said:

“It has been a wonderful weekend. Sunday August 4 was the exact 800th anniversary of the first meeting in St Albans that led to the drawing up of Magna Carta, but the document itself has never before been inside the Abbey. So there was something strangely moving on Thursday about welcoming it to the place where it all began. Over the weekend, the long queues waiting to see the Magna Carta testified to the way in which the significance of this small document has caught the imagination of the public.”

“We are enormously grateful to St Albans City and District Council, to Lincoln Cathedral, and to all those who have helped with sponsorship, for making it possible for us to host and celebrate Magna Carta here in such a splendid way. “

Councillor Beric Read, Portfolio Holder for Community Engagement and Localism for St Albans City and District Council, said: “This weekend has helped bring to life the role St Albans plays in the history of Magna Carta. If you missed the weekend’s festivities, there is still time to see the Magna Carta and find out about its influence around the world at local exhibitions.”

You can see the Magna Carta and a supporting exhibition at St Albans Cathedral until August 29. Tickets are available from the Cathedral Bookshop or online at www.allaboutstalbans.com

Magna Carta Children's Workshops take place at the Cathedral on Tuesdays at 11am and 2pm throughout August, suitable for children aged 7-11. Tickets: £4.00 - available from the Cathedral Bookshop or call 01727 890217. Pre-booking advised.

There is also a free exhibition inspired by the values contained in the Magna Carta at the Museum of St Albans in Hatfield Road. Magna Carta 1213- 1215: The Journey Starts Here, runs until 15 September. More information is available at: www.stalbansmuseums.org.uk

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