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Prized Hereford Cathedral documents off to the USA
9:58am Thursday 29th August 2013 in News
Hereford’s copy of the Magna Carta, dated from 1217, is go on display at the Houston Museum of Natural Science, Texas from February next year.
The exhibition will be staged from February 14 through until the middle of August.
The Magna Carta will be accompanied by the King’s Writ, a document dated 1215 and issued from Runnymede ahead of that issue of the Magna Carta and giving local sheriffs advance warning of the impending arrival of the charter and telling them to prepare its implementation.
It is the only known surviving example.
"We are fortunate to be custodians of these historic documents," said Canon Chris Pullin, Chancellor of Hereford Cathedral, who has overall management responsibility for the documents.
"As we approach the 800th anniversary of the sealing of Magna Carta in 1215, along with the issuing of our King’s Writ, we are delighted to be able to share these documents with our American friends."
"On both sides of the Atlantic we have come to see Magna Carta as an iconic milestone on the long road of human liberties and justice.
"Many world leaders have been inspired by what it stands for, and we hope that this loan will strengthen the resolve of a new generation to safeguard the values of justice, peace and liberty."
The loan of the documents has been negotiated by Hereford Cathedral Perpetual Trust, who were delighted to welcome a group of the museum’s key trustees and staff on a visit earlier this year when they had the opportunity to learn more about the documents and Herefordshire, where it is thought that the documents have been since they were initially received.
"As far as we are aware, this will be the first time that either document will have left Hereford Cathedral since they were received in the early 1200s,with the exception of when they went into safe keeping during the last war and for a short time afterwards," said Glyn Morgan, Chief Executive of Hereford Cathedral Perpetual Trust.
"We also hope that this loan will build on the many other links between Herefordshire and Texas which, of course, can be traced back to when the Hereford breed of cattle was used by settlers.
"More recently, one of the Texan bishops stayed in Hereford ahead of the 2008 Lambeth Conference and since then there have been increasing diocesan links."
The exhibition, which will run from February for six months, is expected to be seen by more than 1 million visitors as the museum is one of the most visited in the US.
The loan will include the museum running an extensive education project alongside the exhibition.
"We are very honoured to be the museum for which Hereford Cathedral has elected to share this precious document with Houstonians and many others in Texas and the US," said Joel Bartsch, President of the Houston Museum of Natural Science.
"To be able to put on display and unite for the first time a copy of a Magna Carta and of the King’s Writ in the United States, two documents that helped shape many other landmark documents including our US Constitution, is a momentous occasion for Houston Museum of Natural Science."
The Magna Carta remains on display at Hereford Cathedral as part of the Mappa Mundi and Chained Library Exhibition until September 30.
Details of the exhibition opening times can be found on the cathedral website www.herefordcathedral.org.
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