Salisbury Cathedral’s Magna Carta project wins Heritage Lottery Fund support

16th January 2014

Salisbury Cathedral, home to the finest of the four surviving original Magna Carta 1215, is delighted to have been awarded initial support from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to help it prepare for the UNESCO listed document’s 800th anniversary celebrations in 2015.

Plans are advanced to re-display and re-present the Cathedral’s Magna Carta in the Chapter House alongside other documents from the Cathedral’s extensive archive, using the latest interpretation techniques to communicate Magna Carta’s historic background and modern significance to the many extra visitors expected in 2015 and beyond.

Martin Field, Deputy Chapter Clerk and Development Director said “We are delighted to have received this support from HLF allowing us to develop our exciting plans for a new Magna Carta exhibition and other celebratory activities in 2015, bringing Magna Carta to many new audiences. The ‘Great Charter’ has inspired and influenced people to stand up for justice and freedom around the globe and across the ages. People will be able to come to Salisbury and experience for themselves the extraordinary sway the ideas expressed in this document continue to hold.”

Canon Edward Probert, Canon Chancellor and Acting Dean of Salisbury said, “Magna Carta lay unnoticed in our archives for centuries before someone spotted it and realized its huge significance. I’m delighted that this funding from HLF will also enable us to employ a full time archivist so that other important manuscripts from our archives can be experienced by the public for the first time. Salisbury Cathedral’s archive is a real medieval treasure trove with documents going back to the founding of the first Cathedral at Old Sarum – so who knows what else might be discovered?”

Nerys Watts, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund South West, said: “Salisbury Cathedral’s original 1215 Magna Carta is one of the world’s most important documents and is still hugely relevant to our lives today. This initial HLF support will mean the Cathedral can work up detailed plans to restore, re-present and open up the Magna Carta’s fascinating story for visitors long into the future. We are looking forward to seeing these exciting plans progress over the coming months.”

In order to ‘unlock’ HLF funding totalling over £500,000, the Cathedral needs to raise nearly £200,000 in partnership funding. Wilsons Solicitors LLP, the oldest legal business headquartered in Salisbury, has pledged £30,000 towards this total. Managing Partner Andrew Roberts said, “Magna Carta is probably the most famous document in English legal history. Its application of the rule of law to all, including the state, continues to underlie the personal and commercial freedoms that we enjoy today. We feel privileged to be the first business to support this internationally important project to showcase this document, its context and impact.”

Salisbury Cathedral will be looking to work with a range of partners to deliver its ambitious programme. These include The British Library, Lincoln Cathedral (which also has a copy of Magna Carta), Magna Carta 800th Committee/Magna Carta Trust, the Diocese of Salisbury, the American Bar Association, and local partners from the city, county and surrounding area.

Further details of Salisbury Cathedral’s Magna Carta 800th anniversary celebrations will be published in February 2014.