Commemorating Magna Carta and the Barons’ Wars is the biggest undertaking yet for the Battlefields Trust.
first published in the mganacarta800th newsletter
Battlefields Trust is an independent charitable trust, with a main role of uniting the discovery, exploration, protection and interpretation of battlefields. A key aspect of the Trust is its engagement with local communities, and empowering them to understand their own histories. All history is local history
– of which the declaration of Magna Carta in 1215 was only the beginning. Fifty years later, Simon de Montfort created Parliament and influenced liberty across the globe.
The Battlefields Trust and the Magna Carta 800th Anniversary Committee are grateful to the Heritage Lottery Fund for making funds available to enable a range of celebratory and commemorative events to take place.
The Battlefields Trust is developing an educational and tourism programme that will continue for many years afterwards, to tell the story. This will provide interpretative resources, including the creation of an exciting battlefields trail that integrates with the Magna Carta Trail. This is being provided with the cooperation of Visit England, and English Heritage.
Edward Dawson has been appointed as the Magna Carta 800th Project Director. He was previously Regional Director of the Campaign to Protect Rural England, and has a strong background in heritage and countryside protection. He will also be concerned with the protection, enhancement and care of battlefield sites. The Trust also feels that it should emphasise the historic nature and value of liberties gained as a result of the Barons’ Wars.
Many local projects are inspired and underway. The small town of Odiham, with its King John’s castle has developed
a blueprint that other towns can follow. A magnificent embroidery showing key events in history will be a focus
for local Magna Carta 800th celebrations. Study days on Magna Carta, the First Barons’ War (1215-17), and the Second Barons’ War (1264-65) are being planned for teachers and volunteers. Odiham resident Steve Brown has recently completed a herculean cycling venture from Odiham, which took him on 1,000 mile journey to deliver a Magna Carta Anthem, to Magna Carta 800th towns by hand. This anthem was composed by Malcolm Archer and published on parchment by the Royal School of Church Music.
Over the weekend of 25-27th July 2014, BT Trustee Dr Matthew Bennett led a delegation from the Battlefields Trust to attend the commemorations at Bouvines, in France, near the modern city of Lille. This marked the 800th anniversary
of the battle, the decisive victory by Philip II, King of France over King John’s continental allies. Sir Robert Worcester, the Chairman of the Magna Carta 800th Anniversary Committee, who joined the tour, spoke from the podium to an assembly of officials from local and regional government, a large and enthusiastic gathering of local people – and even the Dauphin of France, who otherwise might have been Louis XXth.
The Battlefields Trust Magna Carta 800 Project is now under way. It will make an
increasing impact over the coming months. One of its key programme priorities is to inspire and encourage local volunteers. The Trust will also promote re-enactments, study days, guided walks, and trails over the sites of past conflicts – these events, which can be enjoyed by everyone.