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NCS and the Magna Cartas

If you've been following the increasing media attention on the 800th anniversary of the first Magna Carta of 1215, you may be interested in our work on this and several other of the Great Charters.

Since 2006, NCS Director Chris Woods has been adviser to Lincoln Cathedral for the care and exhibition of its 1215 exemplar, and of its examples of the 1217 Charter of the Forest and 1225 Magna Carta of the Forest, and supporting Lincolnshire County Council in their care of these on display at the Castle in Lincoln.  We've developed the Cathedral's policy on how it cares for its treasures and since 2007 Chris has taken the 1215 to Virginia, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Manhattan, Boston, Williamstown and is just back from retrieving it from its last port of call, the Library of Congress in Washington.  Since last year we've taken on the same role for Salisbury Cathedral for their 1215 exemplar and Hereford Cathedral for their 1217 Magna Carta.  Chris took the latter to Houston, Texas last year, along with the wonderful 'King's Writ' of 1215, the only surviving 'calling card' of King John alerting recipients to the iminent arrival of the great Charter of Liberties.  And in November the City of London's 1297 Magna Carta was exhibited in the Lord Mayor's Show, inside a Royal Carriage in a special frame designed by NCS and constructed in Lincoln by a colleague Ian Johns.

This year we've carried out the very first detailed condition analysis of the Salisbury exemplar and will soon take part in the Unification events at the British Library and the Palace of Westminster, including the Scholar's day at the Library, where Chris will join the panel discussion about historical and technical details of the four 1215 charters.  Recently we worked on Lincoln's largely unseen 1225 Great Charter of the Forest, cleaning and treating tears and holes, a new departure since interventive work on the other charters has not been needed as they were mostly heavily repaired in the past.  We undertook similar work to the Society of Antiquaries' unique 13th century enrolment copy in 2012, a beautiful manuscript with coloured capitals.  It's an especially busy time for the great charters and for NCS - so here in the Gallery to the right is just a quick glimpse of the Magna Cartas with which we have been involved.  You may just get a prize for spotting which is which!