2015 will be one of the most exciting years in British history when we will be celebrating the 800th anniversary of sealing of the Magna Carta. The Magna Carta Embroidery is a unique project of twelve unique embroidery panels. The panels tell the story of what happened in 1215 when the Barons, with the help of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Stephen Langton decided that they'd had enough of King John and devised the Magna Carta, a legal document, sealed by the King, which took power away from the Monarchy and give it to the people.
About the panels
The panels are a pictorial representation of what happened in 1215 and will be a lasting legacy to the nation of important events in both the charter towns and in some of the countries that have adopted the principles of the Magna Carta throughout the world.
The Magna Carta have been used as the basis for the rule of law, the foundation of democracy, our legal system and our Parliament and the principles have been adopted in many countries throughout the world.
Here is the Runnymede Panel where King John sealed the Magna Carta, you can see King John at the centre of the panel surrounded by the Barons, below the Barons arriving from the Charter Towns to make sure King John seals the Magna Carta. At the top left is Stephen Langton, the Archbishop of Canterbury who was the driving force behind the Magna Carta.
Just like the Bayeaux Tapestry (which is actually an embroidery) these panels tell an story about one of the most important periods in our history. The panels bring to life the events behind the sealing of the Magna Carta and how democracy spread throughout the world as a result. In fact there were many Magna Cartas, although there are only four surviving copies, one in Lincoln Cathedral, and another in Salisbury Cathedral and two at the British Library. The actual Magna Carta is an historical document scribed onto parchment and while fascinating to read does not tell us the story of the events of 1215 and beyond. The embroideries tell the story.
Who are we?
Rhoda Nevins, who is a member of the Royal School of Needlework and was commissioned by Runnymede Borough Council to create the panels. Rhoda, has been involved in some very prestigious projects and helped embroider the Duchess of Cambridge's wedding dress. So far she has completed 8 out of the 12 (so far) panels. The panels are framed to conservation and museum standards. She is working with a team of volunteers to finish the project before June 15 2015 when they will be on display in Runnymede when the country will come together to mark this auspicious anniversary.Here's Rhoda and some of the team at work on one of the panels.
What we want to achieve
We have had a fantastic reaction to the panels so far and want as many people as possible to see The Magna Carta Embroidery. We have a lot of interest from all over the UK and there are many museums, schools and venues holding celebratory events that want to show the panels. We’ve even had interest from the US who are very interested in the Magna Carta. Our diary is filling up and we need funding to transport the panels and pay for the expenses of exhibiting. Our first exhibition is in November at the Quaker Tapestry Museum in Kendall but we are getting enquiries all the time.
We also want to raise funds to build a website so that as many people as possible can have access to the panels and find out about the Magna Carta.
We are planning on publishing a commemorative book which will show all the panels and tell the story behind each one and the historical events, people and places featured in each panel. The book will also describe the process behind the panels, how they were designed, why each element was chosen and how they were made. It will also go into detail about the various embroidery styles used and more about the team behind the project.
Schools and educational value
We want to take the panels to as many schools as possible to spread the word about the Magna Carta. The panels have a wide range of educational applications that can be used as teaching tools, history, storytelling, geography and design and technology and we are talking to a number of schools about how they can use the panels as a teaching tool across the curriculum.
Information about the British Panels
Panels include the Charter Towns Runnymede, Canterbury, Bury St Edmunds, City of London, America, Canada, Australia, India and the continent of Africa, there is also a panel featuring the shields of the Barons (seen below) who persuaded King John to seal the Magna Carta.
There are (or will be) panels for some of the Commonwealth Countries, including Canada, Australia, India, Australia/New Zealand and the continent of Africa. Each panel depicts what happened in that country, how we arrived and how we left and how the principles laid down in the Magna Carta (which in America's case is mentioned in its Constitution) influenced the formation of those country's governments.
Seen below is the America panel which tells the story of what how we arrived in the US with John Cabot claiming America for Britain, John Smith being captured in James Town, the Boston Tea Party, General Cornwallis surrendering to George Washington and the White House.
Events planned so far include a one month exhibition at The Quaker Quilt Museum in Kendall, Royal Holloway Magna Carta, Barnes Church, and the main event in Runnymede on June 15th 2015, and we are in the process of setting up and/or finalising events with the following, Surrey Museums and Libraries, an exhibit at GLive in Guildford, US Embassy in London and Magna Carta Canada.
There has been a lot of interest in this project, including in the press and on television, including ITV news (three times) and BBC Radio and this coverage is in its own way promoting the 800th and raising awareness of the 800th anniversary through a variety of media channels and will continue to do.Have a look at our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/magnacartaembroidery or see us on Twitter @MagnaCartaSew
We really hope you can support us in this exciting project.