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What is Human Rights Day?
Human Rights Day is observed every year on 10th December. It commemorates the day (10 December 1948) the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Magna Carta is famous as a symbol of justice, fairness, and human rights. For centuries it has inspired and encouraged movements for freedom and constitutional government in Britain and around the world. But when it was issued by England’s King John in June 1215 it was an attempt to prevent a civil war between the king and his powerful barons…
Magna Carta (Latin for “Great Charter”) is one of the most celebrated documents in English history. At the time it was the solution to a political crisis in Medieval England but its importance has endured as it has become recognised as a cornerstone of liberty influencing much of the civilized world
Salisbury Cathedral is extremely proud to be home to the finest of the four surviving original 1215 Magna Carta. Their Magna Carta is on permanent display to visitors in the newly-conserved Chapter House.
Only four copies of Magna Carta dating from 1215 have survived the ravages of time and Salisbury Cathedral is proud to be home to the best preserved original manuscript. Elias of Dereham, priest and steward of the archbishop of Canterbury is thought to have brought Salisbury’s copy of to Old Sarum in the days following the events at Runnymede and it has remained in the Cathedral’s care ever since
The Salisbury Connection
At Runnymede King John was urged to accept the demands of the barons and agree Magna Carta by his half-brother, William Longspeé, whose Effigy is in Salisbury Cathedral. Also present at Runnymede was Elias of Dereham, who at the time was steward to one of the key players in the crisis, the Archbishop of Canterbury Stephen Langton. Elias himself was a skilled negotiator and was at the very centre of the discussions between the King and the barons. Once Magna Carta was agreed and sealed he was entrusted with delivering ten of the thirteen copies made, one of which was given to the original cathedral at Old Sarum. Elias later became a Canon of Old Sarum before masterminding the building of the present Salisbury Cathedral.
The excellent Visit Wiltshire website will help you plan your trip to Salisbury and Wiltshire.
The Stonehenge and Salisbury Guided Tours Experts
Legend has it that in 1220 the Bishop of Salisbury shot an arrow high into the air from the ramparts of Old Sarum castle vowing that he would build a new cathedral wherever the arrow landed. He must have had arms like an ox or some seriously impressive divine intervention for Salisbury Cathedral is actually several miles from the castle.
Little matter. The reality is that the Cathedral he had built is probably the finest example of Early English gothic architecture in the country. It is perfectly positioned on the beautiful water meadows beside the slow-moving River Avon and topped by the tallest spire in the country (which you can climb if you have the knees and lungs for it).
It is also home to the best-preserved of the four remaining original Magna Cartas which guarantees the city a starring role in the document’s 800th birthday celebrations throughout 2015.
Salisbury and surrounding areas of Wiltshire, including Stonehenge and the market town of Trowbridge, make up one of six designated Magna Carta trails. These guide visitors through some of the most historic and picturesque parts of England from Durham and York in the north to Worcester and Hereford in the centre, Norwich in the east and Dover, Canterbury and Pevensey in the south west.
Events kicked off in February when the four surviving original Magna Cartas — from Salisbury, from Lincoln Cathedral and two kept at the British Library — were brought together, the first time this has ever occurred, for three days in London.
For the rest of the year the Magna Carta is at the heart of a myriad of festivals, fetes, exhibitions and displays, literary and academic gatherings in every city, town and village with even the flimsiest link. And a few without any connection at all.
The Magna Carta, literally the Great Charter, was essentially a political device, drawn up to settle an increasingly violent dispute between King John and 25 rebel barons. Much of it referred to specific grievances. Its enduring legacy was that it outlined basic human rights, setting the principle that no-one was above the law and everyone had the right to a fair trial.
It not only became the cornerstone of the British constitution, it influenced subsequent documents like the US Bill of Rights and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
In March the Salisbury Magna Carta was returned to a redesigned interactive display in the Cathedral Chapter House along with other historical treasures from the extensive archives.
And the Cathedral itself is well worth a detailed exploration: from medieval tombs and effigies to the arched supporting pillars bent inward under the weight of the tower. There’s a beautiful modern baptismal font which spectacularly reflects the ceiling and the brilliantly coloured stained glass windows and the bumping stone, worn away from the centuries of traditionally “bumping” the heads of new choirboys to welcome them.
It has wide vaulted cloisters and boasts the oldest working clock in Europe. Built in 1386 it’s an ingenious series of weights and pulleys that has no traditional face but sounds the hour.
Running parallel to the building is the eye-catching Cathedral Close where the clergy lived. It still has a number of the original medieval buildings as well as some elegant Georgian town houses such as the impressive Mompesson House and featured in a film adaptation of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility.
Stonehenge, just 13 kilometres from Salisbury, remains one of the world’s great mysteries. Religious temple? Astronomical clock? Ancient burial chamber? Alien landing zone (that’s my favourite)? Truth is, nobody knows for sure. The mesmerising prehistoric circle of monolithic stones, dating back to between 3000-2000 BC and one of the most distinctive monuments in the world, still baffles experts and attracts more than a million tourists each year.
The new visitor centre, designed by an Australian firm of architects, is modern and eye catching yet sits surprisingly sympathetically in the rolling Wiltshire countryside.
Consisting of two main “pods” one of glass and one of wood, under a soft wave metal roof balanced on slender, unevenly angled metal poles. Inside, it contains an engaging interactive education centre, a cafe, shop and toilets.
The original “facilities” have been removed from their position much closer to the stones, and an access road grassed over which means Stonehenge can now be viewed not as an isolated structure but as part of a broader sweep of ancient mounds and barrows.
Visitors must walk through the gently undulating fields the approximately 2kms from the centre to the stones or take the official land-train. It always was an awesome site but now, with less clutter, it seems even more impressive.
There is more mystery at nearby Avebury which has the largest stone circle in the world, more than 100 stones believed to have been erected about 4,500 years ago. Or Woodhenge, with the remains of six concentric rings possibly part of a structure used by an early community.
From Avebury you can also see Spilbury Hill, the largest man made mound. What the circle and the mound were for, and who created them, is still unknown. Another mystery.
Trowbridge is impressively credentialed for inclusion on the Magna Carta trail. Mentioned in the Domesday Book in 1200 the town was granted one of the earliest market charters from King John.
But by 1215, Baron Henry de Bohun, tiring of the King’s constant demands for increased taxes, joined with 24 other barons to force him to seal the Magna Carta at Runnymede near Windsor. Henry, clutching the charter, is immortalised in a stained-glass window in the parish church.
Through the centuries, Trowbridge forged itself a position as a centre of weaving, first fine woollen cloth, largely for export to Europe then, when that dwindled, into coloured cloth made from the wool of Spanish merino sheep. Quick to adapt to new technology, first the spinning jenny and then the power looms, at one stage the town’s industry was so dominant it was dubbed the “Manchester of the West.”
Although not as cutesy as many of the villages and towns in Wiltshire, Trowbridge has numerous important historic buildings across a wide range of eras. Its museum, which focuses heavily on the town’s nationally important textile heritage, is a kids’ paradise. Established in one of the old cloth mills it has that real feel of living history which many of the newer and more high tech museums have lost. Here you are transported back in time in a series of historic tableaux.
No visit to any part of England is officially complete without a pint of the best local brew. Wadworth Brewery is based in the pretty town of Devizes, roughly 40 kilometres north of Salisbury and has been serving up specialist regional beers for more than 125 years.
It runs regular tours that include the opportunity to meet two of the brewery’s most popular workers, the gentle giants Max and Monty, two magnificent Shire horses who still deliver the beer to local pubs pulling the distinctive drays.
But the highlight has to be dropping in to the brewery’s own private “pub”. Here, visitors can compare the various brews like the popular 6X and the Bishop’s Tipple. Or go for something a little different like the Swordfish, created for the 100th anniversary of the Fleet Air Arm, where beer blended with Pusser’s Navy Rum. Cheers.
The writer was a guest of Visit England and travelled with British Airways.
Salisbury Cathedral – home to the finest preserved of the four original copies of Magna Carta – celebrates the 800th anniversary of its signing
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.
“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.
Link source: http://www.culture24.org.uk/history-and-heritage/art519103-the-best-preserved-magna-carta-goes-on-show-at-salisbury-cathedral-for-magna-carta-800
Click here for Salisbury Guided Tours
- You can see Magna Carta: Spirit of Justice, Power of Words from February 28 2015.
Stonehenge and Salisbury Guided Tours
A NEW two-day tourist trail has been announced by VisitWiltshire and Salisbury Cathedral to celebrate the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta in 2015.
The new Salisbury and Wiltshire trail includes Salisbury Cathedral and Magna Carta on day one and the Stonehenge World Heritage Site and the Baron Town of Trowbridge on day two.
The Wiltshire trail is one of six special trails, each covering different aspects of the Magna Carta story.
Salisbury Cathedral is home to the best preserved of only four remaining copies of the original 1215 Magna Carta which will be re-displayed in an interactive exhibition for 2015.
Robert Key, chairman of Salisbury Cathedral’s Magna Carta Celebrations Committee, said: “This trail is great news and will bring many visitors to Wiltshire and to Salisbury Cathedral to see the finest preserved original Magna Carta in its anniversary year.
“We are looking forward to making those visitors a part of 2015’s 800th anniversary celebrations with a great programme of events and a wonderful new exhibition around Salisbury Cathedral’s Magna Carta.”
On June 15 it will be exactly 800 years after King John added his seal to Magna Carta, as presented to him by the barons at Runnymede on the Thames near Windsor.
The trails were commissioned by the 800th Commemoration Committee of the Magna Carta Trust to encourage visitors to the Magna Carta towns as history, heritage and anniversary tourism become increasingly popular themes for travellers.
Sir Robert Worcester, chairman of the Magna Carta Trust’s 800th anniversary committee said: “They will be colourful guides for the thousands of visitors who will converge on England from around the world next summer, wishing to explore the areas which are part of the Magna Carta story. Doing all six trails will take visitors just over a fortnight, and immerse them in 800 years of history.” Article by: by Alex Rennie, Salilsbury Journal Reporter
Magna Carta 2015
Salisbury Cathedral is extremely proud to be home to the finest of the four surviving original 1215 Magna Carta. It plans to take a leading role in the 2015 celebrations marking the 800th anniversary of the historic and iconic document.
For more information about the trails go to www.visitwiltshire.co.uk/magnacarta.
More News on this story:
Salisbury Cathedral has been awarded £415,800 by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to mark the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta in 2015. Click here