2015 seems to be quite a significant year for anniversaries: the 1000th of Cnut’s invasion of England; the 750th of Simon de Montfort’s first ‘English parliament’; the 600th of Agincourt; the 200th of Waterloo; the 70th of VE day; and, of course, the 60th of The Lord of the Rings and the 50th of The Sound of Music. But it was the 800th of Magna Carta that was the inspiration behind this year’s theme.
It was a case of from the sublime to the sublime. On the Friday I was live blogging at TEDxExeter 2014, and on the Saturday and Sunday I was singing the services at Salisbury Cathedral. Salisbury hosts the best-preserved of the four remaining copies of the original version of Magna Carta – two of the others are in the British Library and the fourth in Lincoln Cathedral – and it was on view with interpretation in the Chapter House. I posted my response on Facebook: “Just had a major weepy moment viewing the Magna Carta at Salisbury. The calligraphy is exquisite, but it’s the clauses that are still in force that got me, enshrining our human rights and the law. I feel profoundly grateful to live in a country that has maintained these rights since 1215.”
From that encounter was born my desire to somehow put Magna Carta on the stage at TEDxExeter 2015. The influence it has had over so many years on the UK’s unwritten constitution, coupled with my understanding that long-termism was needed to address the challenge of climate change, led me to suggest taking the long view as a possible theme… and so it came to pass.
Dan Jones will be speaking at TEDxExeter 2015 about Magna Carta, so I will write no more, except to provide some interesting links:
- Melvyn Bragg’s wonderful Radio 4 series in four parts: “The Road to Magna Carta”; “Runnymede, 1215”; “The Aftermath of Runnymede”; “The Legacy of Magna Carta”
- Also on Radio 4, the Law in Action episode on “Magna Carta 800 Years On”
- What seems to be the official website, magnacarta800th.com
- A translation into modern English provided by the British Library
And also to say… after a brief sojourn in London, Salisbury’s copy is now on show again in a new exhibition at the Cathedral. It’s well worth experiencing.
UPDATE: Dan has sadly withdrawn from speaking at TEDxExeter 2015.