The City of London’s 1297 copy of the Magna Carta will be a key feature of the ceremonial procession in the Lord Mayor’s Show on Saturday 8th November. The Lord Mayor’s show is expected to draw huge crowds in to central London and generate a viewership of several million on the BBC, and is a tradition entering its 800 year in 2015.
The roots of the show come from the concerns of King John in 1215. To ensure London would remain stalwart to the Crown, it was his decree that all newly elected Lord Mayors of London should leave the safety of their abode and present themselves to the people of London in a public display of allegiance. The Lord Mayor was expected to pledge allegiance to the King, and thus ensure the representative of London would not encourage rebellion against the State.
The Lord Mayor’s Show has taken many forms since 1215, and has faced great adversity. It has weathered two bouts of plague, the great fire of London, and interference from the Blitz. Coming up to the 800th anniversary of the show is the acknowledgement that its very existence depended on the political activity of King John and the Barons in 1215. The City of London’s 1297 copy of the Magna Carta will take a prime position in the ceremonial procession, to remind London of its ancient roots, second only to the Lord Mayor’s coach (below).
Some words from Dominic Reid OBE, Pageantmaster:
“The Lord Mayor’s Show has always tried to recognise major national and international events. There is no doubt that Magna Carta is major nationally and internationally. It is especially important in London due to its relationship with the Mayoral Charter, an even earlier charter, during 1215. We are in a great position to do something – the Show will draw an audience of over 2 million. The 1297 Magna Carta is a powerful object to display. When an object is displayed in this way, to so many people, the significance of the object becomes clear. With it on display, there will be a palpable and authentic link to the events that led to the inception of the office of the Lord Mayor of London.
We are very lucky to have been granted use of the Edward 7th Carriage. This is a Semi-State coach, with two very important features that will help us display the 1297 Magna Carta safely and strikingly. It has large windows which will provide great visibility for the crowds. The Magna Carta will be raised above the windowsill. The carriage also has rubber tyres, which will ensure the transportation of this precious document will be smooth. In the planning of this, curatorial responsibilities have been taken extremely seriously. A special case has been constructed, within another case, to ensure the safety of the document.
The City of London is one of the most modernised cities in the world. The Show is an opportunity to link the City to its larger history. It is a very legitimate way of juxtaposing modernity and tradition. Research over the last twenty years has shown an increase in the appetite of Londoners for historical heritage elements to appear in the show. The Show paints an interesting picture; it is the presentation of a global centre, with an unbroken history of 800 years. This makes the Show unique & ancient and gives the Magna Carta 800th Anniversary Commemoration a big opening salvo that will catch the attention of those watching on 8th November 2014.”
Dominic Reid OBE has been the Pageantmaster of the Lord Mayor’s show since 1993. He was awarded the OBE in 2004 for his services to the Golden Jubilee and to the City of London. For more information on the history of the Lord Mayor’s Show, please visit