WASHINGTON — On June 15, 1215, King John of England affixed his seal to a charter granting basic rights to every Englishman. This charter, known today as the Magna Carta, is considered a precursor of modern fundamental civil rights, including the Bill of Rights.
On March 3 at 6 p.m. EST, Museum of the Bible will host “Restoring the ‘Thomas Paine’ Sandwich Magna Carta,” This event is the culmination of the exhibition Magna Carta: Tyranny. Justice. Liberty, which opened at Museum of the Bible in 2021. For the first time in America, two Magna Cartas were on display together. One was the Sandwich Magna Carta, issued in 1300, along with the accompanying Charter of the Forest. It was this Magna Carta that Thomas Paine likely saw during his time in England.
This special event examines the history of this document and its preservation. It will be the final opportunity to view the Sandwich Magna Carta and Charter of the Forest in person before the historic documents return to England. Doors open at 5:15 pm for the in-person viewing.
The evening’s speakers include Chris Woods, director of the National Conservation Service (UK); Luke Purser, co-founder and senior partner of Hawkwood International; and Fenella G. France, chief of the Preservation Research and Testing Division at the Library of Congress. They will recount the rediscovery of the Sandwich Magna Carta in 2015 and the detailed conservation analysis recently completed on it. This research project is a collaboration of these organizations and Museum of the Bible. The speakers will also reflect on the ways the Magna Carta was used in the American Revolution and by Thomas Paine.
“Few documents have influenced our form of government more than the Magna Carta,” said Dr. Jeffrey Kloha, chief curatorial officer at Museum of the Bible. “Understanding its history helps us appreciate how precious are our rights as citizens of a free country.”
More information on Museum of the Bible is available here.