Cathe­dral buys rare en­grav­ing of Magna Carter for £3,400

Kentish Gazette Canterbury & District - - Letters And Opinion - By Joe Wright jwright@thek­m­group.co.uk @joe_wright98

A rare en­grav­ing of Can­ter­bury’s Magna Carta has re­turned to the city’s cathe­dral af­ter be­ing sold at auc­tion for £3,400.

The ex­act copy of King John’s fa­mous le­gal doc­u­ment was bought by the land­mark’s ar­chives team.

The pur­chase was fi­nanced with funds from Friends of the Na­tional Li­braries, a na­tional char­ity which aims to keep his­toric doc­u­ments in the UK, and the Friends of Can­ter­bury Cathe­dral.

The en­grav­ing was made by pub­lisher and map seller John Pine in 1733.

Cres­sida Wil­liams, head of ar­chives and the li­brary at the cathe­dral, says the new ad­di­tion – which had a top guide price of £5,000 when it went un­der the ham­mer at Can­ter­bury Auc­tion Gal­leries – will help tell the Magna Carta story.

She said: “We have a reg­is­tered ver­sion of Magna Carta – which is a copy of the doc­u­ment writ­ten into a me­dieval book – but this does not have the same im­pact as some­thing which rep­re­sents the doc­u­ment it­self. Head of ar­chives Cres­sida Wil­liams and King John

“We an­tic­i­pate pre­sent­ing the new pur­chase to vis­it­ing groups.

“We reg­u­larly re­ceive vis­its from school groups who are study­ing this pe­riod and oth­ers also have a high level of in­ter­est in Magna Carta.”

Only four copies of the orig­i­nal 1215 Magna Carta sur­vive. One is owned by Lin­coln Cathe­dral, another by Sal­is­bury, and the other two are stored at the Bri­tish Li­brary in Lon­don.

New re­search has shown that one of the copies in the Bri­tish Li­brary was orig­i­nally kept at Can­ter­bury Cathe­dral in the Mid­dle Ages be­fore be­ing re­moved

from the cathe­dral col­lec­tions in the 1630s.

It is thought it may have passed through the hands of Stephen Lang­ton, a 13th cen­tury Arch­bishop of Can­ter­bury.

How­ever, the orig­i­nal Can­ter­bury Magna Carta, the only one to have the Great Seal of King John still at­tached, was dam­aged in a fire in 1731 and a failed at­tempt at restora­tion ren­dered it barely read­able by the naked eye.

Ex­perts say this makes the 1733 en­grav­ing, printed on vel­lum, a par­tic­u­larly im­por­tant piece of na­tional his­tory.

The rare en­grav­ing of Can­ter­bury’s Magna Carta

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