Wiltshire

Best-preserved Magna Carta goes on show at Salisbury Cathedral

Magna Carter, Salisbury Cathedral, Wiltshire
Image caption The cathedral's original copy of the Magna Carta has been re-housed in the 13th-century Chapter House in a display "befitting its international significance"

A new exhibition celebrating the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta has been launched at Salisbury Cathedral.

The cathedral is home to the "finest preserved" of the four original copies of the historic charter.

Signed by King John at Runnymede in 1215, it is seen as the foundation of constitutional law in England.

The new "immersive and interactive" exhibition, funded by a £415,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, will be opened to the public from Saturday.

Outlining basic rights with the principle that no-one was above the law, including the king, the Magna Carta charted the right to a fair trial and limits on taxation without representation.

As part of the new exhibit, the cathedral's original 1215 document has been re-housed in the 13th-century Chapter House in a display "befitting its international significance".

Image caption The new Magna Carta exhibition at Salisbury Cathedral will open to the public on Saturday

The Chapter House and medieval cloisters, also play host to an interactive exhibition charting the story of the historic charter.

The Very Reverend June Osborne, Dean of Salisbury, said "despite its age" it has "clearly gained in relevance for a modern audience".

"There are only four original Magna Cartas left in the world and we have the most beautiful one here in Salisbury.

"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," she said.

"I hope they will go away inspired by Magna Carta's enduring values of fairness, universal rights and justice."

'Thrilling experience'

Simon Timms, from the Heritage Lottery Fund, said it was "delighted" to support the cathedral's "ambitious plans".

"It will be a thrilling experience for visitors to come face to face with Salisbury's copy of Magna Carta in the new exhibition," he said.

"And we are very impressed with the wide-ranging programme of events that the Cathedral is arranging during 2015 to give everyone this opportunity."

The other surviving copies of Magna Carta are held by the British Library and Lincoln Cathedral.

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