MAGNA CARTA IN SUFFOLK

Magna Carta
Magna Carta

 Living in an area of medieval churches and old villages it is sometimes easy to take history for granted but seeing Magna Carta last week underlined how the courage and determination of our forefathers echoes down through the ages and influences our lives today.

Four clauses from Magna Carta still survive in English law. Trial by jury and no delay to justice are fundamental to our legal system and they come to us from Magna Carta.

Next year sees the 800th anniversary of the sealing of the Great Charter. We started the celebrations early in Suffolk because the disgruntled barons met in Bury St Edmunds in 1214 and agreed they would force King John to accept certain rights and concessions.

There are only four copies of this magnificent document left – the one from Lincoln cathedral is on loan currently at St Edmundsbury Cathedral. It was a huge privilege to attend a glorious choral evensong of celebration last week and see the document. Lying in its glass case it is in some ways quite an unremarkable piece of parchment written in a very neat hand – there are no great swirls of red ink or ornate decorations in the margins. It is only when you look at it closely you realise just how powerful this document is and how far across the world its influence has spread.