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Canterbury commemorates the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta

Canterbury commemorates the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta

On Saturday 13 June Canterbury came alive with medieval characters, music, fun hands-on activities, free guided tours, exhibitions, film screenings all of which were held as part of a national weekend to commemorate Magna Carta.

Magna Carta was agreed by King John at Runnymede on 15 June 1215, and has played an important role in the development of human rights, liberty and democracy in Britain and across the globe. Canterbury had a key part to play in the story of Magna Carta through the role of Archbishop Stephen Langton. Also, one of the four surviving copies of the 1215 Magna Carta has been identified as Canterbury’s copy. It is now in the British Library in London.

Hundreds of visitors took part and enjoyed the various events which included a free Magna Carta family trail around important heritage sites, to find out about Magna Carta and meet colourful, real-life characters from the early 13th century.

A cumulative total of well over 2,000 people ( mainly families with children) visited the six participating sites with over 120 children visiting all the venues and receiving a chocolate medal from the Cathedral shop.


It was a wonderful day of ‘living history’ across the city that introduced families to Magna Carta and local heritage in an exciting and creative way. Characters such as King John, high street shop owner Susanna de Planaz and Norman the fuller ( with his barrel of ‘stale urine’ to remove the grease from woollen cloth, together with medieval music from Roughe Musicke and the Canterbury Gregorian Music Society brought the sights, sounds and smells of medieval Canterbury to life in an entertaining and educational way”

Martin Crowther, Canterbury Cathedral’s Community Engagement Manager


The response from visitors was overwhelmingly positive. Some visitor comments below:

Great activities!

Don’t want to wait another 800 years for another one!

 Great to have a city-wide trail

 Encouraged us to go to places  we wouldn’t have otherwise

 Great to have a treat at the end for the children

 A great way to introduce children to the history of their area


The Family Trail was co-ordinated by Canterbury Cathedral, working with partners across the city. It was supported by and formed part of The Canterbury Journeya Heritage Lottery funded project to widen and improve access, learning and participation at Canterbury Cathedral.

The organisers of the Family Activity Day and Family trail would like to thank:

  • Participating sites
  • Volunteer re-enactors and helpers
  • The Cathedral Sewing Ladies
  • The Gulbenkian
  • Theatrecraft
  • Herne Bay
  • The Canterbury BID (Business Improvement District)
  • Hutton Design
  • Prof Louise Wilkinson, Canterbury Christ Church University

Click here for a listing of other forthcoming Magna Carta events

In the Press

Click below to view related coverage from the local, national and international media

Magna Carta 800th anniversary marked in Canterbury BBC SE (13/06/2015)

Magna Carta: New research sheds light on the church’s role in publishing world-famous charter The Independent (13/06/2015)




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