The Most Famous Document in English History Arrives at St Albans Cathedral

Fri, 2 August 2013

Magna Carta Mayor, click for more information

On Thursday 1st August, St Albans Cathedral welcomed an original Magna Carta as the city geared up to celebrate its significant role in the story of Magna Carta.

In August 1213, St Albans Cathedral was the venue for the very first meeting between barons and clergy to discuss their grievances against King John. This historic meeting ultimately led to the articles that became Magna Carta, sealed at Runnymede two years later.

The original Magna Carta, on loan from Lincoln Cathedral, will be on show to visitors until 29th August as part of a special exhibition in the Cathedral. Its arrival was heralded by the Cathedral bells which rang out Beethoven’s Ode to Joy. This is a once-in-a-lifetime chance for people to see an original Magna Carta at the place where the long road to democracy began.

Visitors and residents can enjoy a month of celebrations and events throughout the city, including a concert by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and St Albans Chamber Choir, a Lecture on The New British Constitution by Vernon Bogdanor, one of Britain’s foremost constitutional experts, and a special Evensong at the Cathedral with the Reverend Professor Diarmaid MacCulloch.

Throughout August, younger visitors can take part in medieval workshops, see live demonstrations from bowmen and calligraphers and explore themed family trails. There is also a special Magna Carta Medieval Festival in Verulamium Park on Saturday 3rd and Sunday 4th August with medieval encampment, equestrian and combat displays and lots of family fun. A number of these activities are free.

The Very Reverend Jeffrey John, Dean of St Albans Cathedral, said "It is not widely known that the Abbey played a key role in the development of Magna Carta. We are delighted to be hosting the Lincoln Magna Carta during August and are looking forward to a month filled with exciting Magna Carta themed events for all ages. We hope the city's celebrations help people to learn about their heritage and to understand why Magna Carta is so important nationally and internationally.”

The Mayor of St Albans, Cllr Annie Brewster, said, “I am very excited about the Magna Carta coming to our beautiful city. In a way we are bringing the Magna Carta home – the story all started here. The Cathedral, with all its religious and historical significance is the perfect place to see the Magna Carta and to contemplate how very lucky we are to live in a place where fairness, justice, equality and human rights are the norm rather than the exception. I hope as many people as possible will have the opportunity to visit St Albans Cathedral this August to see it for themselves and to take part in all the other fabulous activities.”

The Magna Carta at St Albans Cathedral and the city-wide Magna Carta Festival are key events in the run-up to the 800th Anniversary of the sealing of Magna Carta in 2015.


See the arrival of the Magna Carta at St Albans Cathedral - captured on film by ITV News:

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