The history department at Kent County Council in Maidstone have unearthed a forgotten edition of Magna Carta that could be worth up to £10 million. The historical parchment that established the principle of the rule of law lay forgotten about in the council’s archives and has been described by an expert as an ‘important historical find’.
The document was authenticated by Professor Nicholas Vincent of the University of East Anglia, “It is a fantastic discovery which comes in the week that the four other known versions were brought together at the Houses of Parliament. It is a fantastic piece of news for Sandwich, which puts it in a small category of towns and institutions that own a 1300 issue.”
Dr Mark Bateson made the discovery at the end of December just before the year of the 800th anniversary of King John’s concession. The Sandwich Magna Carta was found next to the town’s original Charter of the Forest in a Victorian scrapbook and its suggested high value is because it also comprises the Forest Charter.
Mayor of Sandwich Town Council, Paul Graeme, commented on the King John related find, “On behalf of Sandwich Town Council, I would like to say that we are absolutely delighted to discover that an original Magna Carta and original Charter of the Forest, previously unknown, are in our ownership. To own one of these documents, let alone both, is an immense privilege given their international importance. To own such a document- and the Charter of the Forest is an honour and a great responsibility.”
It is believed that Sandwich do not intend to sell their Magna Carta but instead hope to benefit from its potential as a tourist attraction. Speaking of its potential value, Professor Vincent commented, “This would be an upper value as it has, like the town of Sandwich, suffered over time from French invasions and the like.”
The four known editions of 1215 Magna Carta are from Salisbury Cathedral, Lincoln Cathedral and two from the British Library. They were brought together for a one day exhibition at the Houses of Parliament an presented to a crowd of 2015 people, chosen by a public ballot.
John Bercow MP spoke of the exhibition, “Over the past eight centuries the public and their Parliament have shaped society and changed the way we live our lives. The sealing of Magna Carta in 1215 marked the start of the journey towards modern rights and representation.”
Magna Carta was first drafted by the Archbishop of Canterbury and agreed by King John on June 15th 1215.