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Best-preserved Magna Carta goes on show at Salisbury Cathedral for Magna Carta 800

Salisbury Cathedral – home to the finest preserved of the four original copies of Magna Carta – celebrates the 800th anniversary of its signing

a photo of bottles and quills on a table inside a cathedral

Quills and ink at the ready as Salisbury Cathedral prepares to reveal the Magna Carta© Ash Mills

Salisbury Cathedral’s Magna Carta is the finest preserved of the four original copies and it is celebrating the 800th anniversary of its signing by King John at Runnymede with a fitting new display that promises to explore both its history and its relevance today.

Promising a “thrilling experience” that will take visitors on a journey of liberty and justice through the Cathedral, its medieval cloisters and the stunning 13th century Chapter House, the centrepiece will be the original Magna Carta housed in a new display.

The immersive exhibition, called Magna Carta: Spirit of Justice, Power of Words, is designed to bring to life the history and the contemporary relevance of this extraordinary document, which is often seen as representing the foundation of modern human rights and the justice system we recognise today.

Tactile hands-on activities will include a medieval sword, quill pens and a parchment that visitors can try out to get a feel of medieval life, while touch screen displays will allow people to explore the continued fight for justice and human rights in the 21st century.

// Best-preserved Magna Carta goes on show at Salisbury Cathedral for Magna Carta 800 | Culture24// // // // // // // // //

“So many of the liberties that we hold dear today – and perhaps sometimes take for granted – can be traced back to Magna Carta,” said The Dean of Salisbury, the Very Revd June Osborne.

“Despite its age the document has clearly gained in relevance for a modern audience, and there is a tangible sense of anticipation as we open this new exhibition and launch the 800th anniversary celebrations in Salisbury.”

Re-housed in a dramatic new enclosure, the cathedral’s copy of Magna Carta is joined by manuscript treasures from the archive together with a new interpretation of the ornate medieval frieze, which visitors can follow round the Chapter House.

More is revealed about the historical characters linked to Salisbury who shaped the creation and early years of Magna Carta, while contemporary reflections on the meaning of Magna Carta are provided through an thought-provoking documentary made in partnership with local students and Bournemouth University.

With the accent firmly on encouraging a response, the exhibition has been designed to appeal to families and younger audiences as well as the Cathedral’s many international visitors, using media installations, simple interactives, objects and stylish graphics.

“I know that the many visitors who will come to Salisbury Cathedral to experience this exhibition will be excited and engaged by what they find,” added the Very Rvd Osborne. “I hope they will go away inspired by Magna Carta’s enduring values of fairness, universal rights and justice.”

A wide-ranging programme of supporting events has been arranged by the Cathedral during 2015.

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  • You can see Magna Carta: Spirit of Justice, Power of Words from February 28 2015.

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