Salisbury Cathedral, home to the finest of the four surviving original 1215 Magna Carta, will be taking a leading role in the 2015 celebrations marking the 800th anniversary of the historic and iconic document the legacy of which has been its enduring global influence. Magna Carta’s clauses on social justice form the cornerstone of modern democracy and liberty worldwide and are as pertinent today as they were 800 years ago.
Robert Key, chairman of Salisbury Cathedral’s Magna Carta 800th anniversary committee, said “Salisbury Cathedral is extremely proud to own the finest preserved of the four surviving original 1215 documents. We know how important the Magna Carta is to people from across the globe and what it represents for them. The 1215 Magna Carta is inscribed in the UNESCO ‘Memory of the World’ register, underlining the fact that the documents held by Salisbury Cathedral, Lincoln Cathedral and The British Library are regarded amongst the world’s most significant documentary heritage.”
The Dean of Salisbury, the Very Revd June Osborne, said “Plans are being advanced here at Salisbury Cathedral to commemorate the forthcoming 800th anniversary of Magna Carta by promoting the values and ideals that it represents. Our ambition is to present a wonderful mix of spiritual and secular celebrations, promoting justice and freedom in a practical sense, and running a full programme of learning and outreach events for people of all ages. We aim to inspire further activity in the years that follow by leaving a lasting national and international legacy.”
Salisbury Cathedral intends to re-display and re-present its Magna Carta in the newly-conserved Chapter House, safeguarding the document for the future and using the latest interpretation techniques to communicate Magna Carta’s historic background and modern significance to the many extra visitors it expects to welcome in 2015. It also hopes to conserve and repair the Cathedral’s medieval Cloisters where the Chapter House is located.
Plans for further celebrations are underway, and aim to include a lecture series chaired by the Dean of Salisbury featuring international speakers exploring topics inspired by Magna Carta. The Cathedral also has ambitions to present a Medieval Fair for all the family, a pageant involving hundreds of local people, a special concert, a Celebratory Eucharist and a week-long flower festival, as well as other events. Alongside this activity, the Cathedral’s education department will work closely with schools throughout the year to deliver curriculum-focused programmes supporting citizenship and history.
Salisbury Cathedral is working closely with partners to deliver its ambitious programme, these include: The British Library, Diocese of Salisbury, Lincoln Cathedral, Magna Carta 800th Committee/ Magna Carta Trust, Wiltshire Council, Dorset County Council, Salisbury City Council, Visit Wiltshire, UNESCO, and AGEAS Salisbury International Arts Festival.