To mark the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta, an original charter from Hereford Cathedral has arrived in China for two weeks of exhibitions and special events as part of an ambitious world tour.
An internationally celebrated legal text, Hereford Cathedral’s 1217 charter – one of only four extant examples of the original – will be on public display in Beijing, Guangzhou and Shanghai. An exhibition featuring a reproduction of Magna Carta will also take place in Chongqing.
Part of the GREAT campaign, the stops in China form part of the 800th anniversary global tour of the Magna Carta and the only surviving version of the King’s Writ, signed in 1215, from Runnymede. The artefacts will pass through seven countries, across three continents, travelling a total of 65,000 miles courtesy of our official airline partner: British Airways.
The documents departed the UK last month and have just finished a tour in New York and Luxembourg. From China they will travel to Singapore, Malta and Portugal.
This visit is another milestone in a golden year of UK-China relations. The Duke of Cambridge had a successful visit to China in March; Foreign Secretary, Philip Hammond, and Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, have both visited China recently; Vice Premier Liu Yandong visited the UK in September; and President Xi will undertake his first State Visit to the UK later this month.. The State Visit will build upon existing areas of cooperation and open up further areas of collaboration, including in the field of rule of law.
The tour will provide the first ever opportunity for thousands of members of the public to see the document up close. Special events will also bring together British and Chinese historians and experts to discuss the modern day significance of the Magna Carta as an internationally recognised symbol of the rule of law, and its impact on common law systems across the world.
The British Ambassador to China, Barbara Woodward CMG OBE, commented:
Recognised as one of the most important documents as the foundation for the rule of law in modern society, we are delighted to bring the Magna Carta to China for the very first time.
I would like to take this chance to invite our friends across China to visit this important piece of our cultural heritage during this Golden year of UK-China relations, and for it to spark further cooperation on rule of law and legal services.
Reverend Canon Chris Pullin, Chancellor from Hereford Cathedral, added:
I am delighted that our copy of Magna Carta is embarking on this global tour, which will enable more people than ever from across the world a unique and exciting opportunity to see the document close up and learn about what it represents.