Celebrating the 8OOth anniversary of the Magna Carta

on Monday, 16 March 2015. Posted in Conservation

The Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre have been preparing an up-coming display to mark the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta, which is to be held at Lacock Abbey.

The display will feature three original documents: a facsimile of the 1225 Magna Carta presented to Lacock abbey after the original charter was presented to the nation; and two enrolled copies of a 1300 confirmation of the charter in the archives of the marquis of Ailesbury of Savernake and Marlborough borough which are held at the Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre.

These documents will be supported by a display illustrating life in Wiltshire in the 13th century and the impact of Magna Carta. Copies of documents will include images from the pageant in 1932 to celebrate the 800th anniversary of the founding of Lacock abbey.

The exhibition will be at Lacock Abbey in June and July and then at the Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre. The screens will then be available for display around the county.

A project to conserve and display 13th Century documents for the Salisbury Cathedral Magna Carta exhibition.

The Archive conservation team have recently been working on a project to conserve and display four 13th Century parchment documents for the 800th Anniversary of the Magna Carta exhibition at Salisbury Cathedral.

The documents are: a charter, an indulgence, a declaration of canonical obedience and an agreement of tithes.

The earliest document dates from 1220; it is an indulgence of thirty days issued by Archbishop Stephen Langton for subscribers to the fabric of Salisbury Cathedral. Indulgences were granted for good work and entitled the recipient to a remission of the punishments of sin. The charter is from King Edward I granting Bishop Nicholas Longspee permission to hunt on the king’s land, dated 1294. This document includes the king’s great seal which is in very good condition. The declaration of canonical obedience was issued by Ela, Abbess of Lacock to the Bishop of Salisbury in the 1240’s. The fourth document is an agreement of tithes between Elias of Dereham and John Rufus of Imber, this document contains 4 pendant seals. These items link the Magna Carta with Salisbury and the Cathedral.

The documents had been folded for many years and needed to be flattened for ease of access to the information. There was also light surface dirt on the parchment and seals. The documents were all surface cleaned and humidified with water vapour to gently relax and flatten the folds and the seals were cleaned to remove surface dirt revealing a more detailed impression. Small tears in the parchment were then repaired from the back.

The items were displayed in a bespoke made acid free mount with an in-built mould for the great seal to be completely supported.

They are now on permanent display alongside the Magna Carta in the Chapter House at Salisbury Cathedral.


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