Visitors will be able to view one of the most famous documents in English history as Hereford Cathedral displays its copy of the 1217 Magna Carta for one weekend only in November.

The Magna Carta, which was agreed between King John and his barons at Runnymede in 1215, is considered the foundation of English common law and much of its worldwide importance lies in the interpretation of the clauses from which grew the right of the freedom of the individual. It is widely recognised as one of the most famous documents in English history and it still resonates today with many people for its role in the defence of rights and freedoms. A significant revision of Magna Carta was issued by Henry III in 1217 and Hereford Cathedral is fortunate to possess one of these 1217 charters, only four of which survive. 

On Friday 24 and Saturday 25 November, the cathedral will be displaying its copy of the 1217 Magna Carta and the only known surviving copy of the 1215 King’s Writ in the Mappa Mundi and Chained Library Exhibition. This will be the only opportunity to see the originals of these incredibly important documents in 2023 due to the conservation requirements to limit the documents’ exposure to light, enabling their long-term preservation. The cathedral normally displays a high-quality facsimile of these important documents within the exhibition.

As part of the weekend, there will also be a special ticketed evening event for visitors to discover the Magna Carta in greater detail on Friday 24 November from 5pm. Guests will have exclusive access to the Mappa Mundi & Chained Library Exhibition and the evening will also include a brief talk on this incredible document alongside refreshments. Tickets for this event cost £12 and are available to purchase via the cathedral website.

Elizabeth Semper O’Keefe, Archivist at Hereford Cathedral, said: “We are delighted to welcome visitors to see these fascinating documents. The significance of the Magna Carta as a foundation for the rights of the people cannot be underestimated, and it is a privilege to be able to share it with a wider audience for this very special weekend.”

The Mappa Mundi and Chained Library Exhibition is open 10am to 5pm and normal admission prices will apply during this weekend. If you plan to bring a group of 6+, please contact [email protected] in advance to help plan your visit.