St Albans Cathedral welcomes iconic Magna Carta

St Albans Mayor Cllr Annie Brewster with Canon Chancellor of St Albans Cathedral, Canon Kevin Walton

St Albans Mayor Cllr Annie Brewster with Canon Chancellor of St Albans Cathedral, Canon Kevin Walton, with an original Magna Carta. Photo kindly supplied by Arun Kataria - Credit: Arun Kataria

IT arrived under lock and key, but after 800 years, no one was complaining.

Magna Carta is placed in St Albans Abbey

Magna Carta is placed in St Albans Abbey - Credit: Archant

An original Magna Carta was today (Thursday) carefully transported from its home at the Gothic Lincoln Cathedral to a specially designed secure pod in St Albans’ ancient Abbey.

The iconic document was greeted with a large cheer from a crowd waiting inside the Abbey.

St Albans is a Charter Town because in August 1213 the Cathedral was the venue of the first meeting between barons and clergy to discuss grievances against King John.

That monarch is popularly named as the bad king in the story of Robin Hood.


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The historic meeting at the Abbey in 1213 led to, two years later, the articles that became Magna Carta, sealed at Runnymede.

St Albans is celebrating the 800th anniversary of that important discussion with a series of events, with the Magna Carta itself expected to be the star attraction as it is one of just four originals.

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This afternoon, while bells were ringing out Beethoven’s Ode to Joy to mark the significant arrival, the historic parchment that was written upon by a feather in 1215 was taken from a padlocked aluminium and steel case and unveiled to an impressed audience.

However some of the youngsters observing the charter struggled with the abbreviated Latin script.

One girl poring over the ancient document explained to her friend, “there’s an ‘l’ there’s a ‘t’ and blah blah blah.”

Chris Woods, director of the National Conservation Service, who has overseen the transportation of the priceless parchment, said the Lincoln copy is the only Magna Carta available for loan, and has already been seen in Australia and in the United States.

The 1215 Magna Carta can be viewed at the Cathedral from August 3-29.

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