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Momentous moment

16 August 2013

BROUGHT in a plain van, and with the generosity of Lincoln Cathedral, the Lincoln copy of the Magna Carta arrived at St Albans Abbey in time for the exact 800th anniversary, on 4 August, of the first meeting in St Albans of King John and his barons which led to the signing of the Magna Carta two years later.

The first draft of that momentous document was drawn up in St Albans, although the final Great Charter has never before been inside the Abbey. Now it can be seen there, in a high-security display cabinet, until the end of this month. It is proving very popular.

Its arrival heralded a weekend of celebration, with a concert by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra on the Saturday. On the Sunday, a facsimile of the document was brought in procession, along with jugglers, jousters, and medieval musicians, to the cathedral, to be welcomed by the Mayor, judges, and cathedral staff.

The Mayor of St Albans, Cllr Annie Brewster (above, with Canon Kevin Walton), who is a calligrapher, said that she was surprised how small and perfect the script was. She could not see a single spelling mistake or attempt at a cover-up.

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