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 Magna Carta copy found at Sandwich

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Caro
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PostSubject: Magna Carta copy found at Sandwich   Fri 20 Feb 2015, 05:45

I don't always know where to put topics but I suppose the Magna Carta could be considered political ideology.  On the other hand this could almost go under the thread of present history, or something about places.  But here it is.

I read today (and I don't think it's been mentioned here before) that another copy of the Magna Carta has just been found.  NZ's main online news site had a story from the Washington Post about an ancient copy of it being found at Sandwich.  Sandwich find  The American slant pointed to it being in part responsible for the US Constitution.  I am more interested in it being found in Sandwich, a town which has among its church grounds the graves of quite a number of my husband's ancestors and which we have wandered round.

But I have got a bit uncertain about these news items considering people's reactions to other historical "discoveries".  I can't see why this wouldn't be definitely genuine though.  And seems quite an exciting find to me. I don't know what quality this document is in; when our Treaty of Waitangi was looked at in 1908 it was found to have been partially eaten by rats, and then it spent its time in the war at the side of a corridor in the Public Trust office, the staff not having been told what it was when an MP left it.  And just a year after its signing it almost went up in flames.  I think there have been facsimile copies around since at least 1877.
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PostSubject: Re: Magna Carta copy found at Sandwich   Fri 20 Feb 2015, 09:40

Its discovery did make the British newspapers but given all the brouhaha about Magna Carta at the moment I'm surprised more wasn't made of it. The Sandwich copy of Magna Carta is a 1300 exemplification produced by Edward I. Besides the four surviving original 1215 charters, there are 20 or so surviving copies and drafts which were made/issued in 1216, 1217, 1225, 1297, and 1300. The Sandwich one isn't in very good condition but it is interesting because it's bound together with a copy of the 'Charter of the Forest' which was originally issued alongside Magna Carta. Since the Sandwich copy has only just emerged I guess it's quite possible other copies remain to be discovered which have lain hidden away and overlooked in County Record Offices and the like (the Sandwich copy was actually found in Kent County Records Office in Maidstone). As you've been there you know that today Sandwich is a very small town but in the past it was an important port, one of the 'Cinque Ports' charged with defence of the Channel ... until the sea retreated and left the town high and dry.

Here's the Sandwich Magna Carta - as you can see quite a large chunk is missing, there's some water damage and it is missing the royal seal, but it's still estimated to be worth about £10million:



And here's a local news article: Kent online 8 Feb 2015
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PostSubject: Re: Magna Carta copy found at Sandwich   Fri 20 Feb 2015, 14:04

Extraordinary what turns up in Sandwiches - never found anything worth more than 10p in any I've dared open.

The trouble with those dusty shelves of ancient documents is that only  expert hands may get close to them and they need paying for it these days. Gone are the days of the cultured curious who can afford the time. And if another is found what chances are there that someone will not try to make a pile out of it. Such documents may have great value but can they be sold?
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PostSubject: Re: Magna Carta copy found at Sandwich   Fri 20 Feb 2015, 14:45

Well regarding this particular document, although it has passed through several hands before it eventually found its way amongst a bundle of other old documents into the County Records Office, all parties involved seem to agreed that as it is a legal document issued to the town of Sandwich, then the current Sandwich town council are the legal owners. And thankfully the council seem keen to retain ownership and make the document available for public viewing. They've already recognised that to do this they will have to come up with something like £10,000 to provide a suitable environmentally-controlled and secure display cabinet, but I see they are already thinking of offering it on loan (and for a substantial fee) to the town of Sandwich in Massachusetts ... perhaps as the first venue of a lucrative US tour in this 800th anniversary year.

And yes they can be sold (as with any great works of art or important documents or antiquities, the UK government can put a temporary block on the sale to allow time for British museums, libraries, charities etc to try and raise the cash, but ultimately they can still be sold, even to foreign buyers) ... a 1297 issue of Magna Carta originally held by the King's School in Somerset was sold in 1952 to the Australian Government for £12,500, and is now on display in the Members' Hall of Parliament House, Canberra. Another 1297 copy, originally held by the Earl of Cardigan, was sold in 1984 to the Perot Foundation in the US, which then in 2007 sold it to US businessman David Rubenstein for US$21.3 million, and this copy is now on permanent loan to the National Archives in Washington DC.
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