On a cold windy March morning, the town of Pontefract made history again when it was presented with a facsimile copy of the Magna Carta specially printed by the British Library on sheepskin to mark the Charter’s 800th anniversary and the role the Lord of Pontefract Castle played in that.
The copy – from 1215 was presented to the former Bishop of Pontefract, now Area Bishop of Wakefield, the Rt Revd Tony Robinson by former Normanton MP, Sir Bill O’Brien who chairs the town’s Magna Carta Group.
The presentation at St Giles’s Church, in the Market Place also marked the start of events across the town’s schools, libraries and Castle to celebrate this historic anniversary.
It was 800 years ago that the Lord of Pontefract Castle, Baron De Lacy became one of 25 Lords to force King John to draw up the Charter which still today safeguards basic freedoms and limits the power of the crown.
Presenting the framed facsimile, Sir Bill said: “Once again, Pontefract and the people of Pontefract are making history today and I for one am proud to be part of it.”
Bishop Tony received the framed charter on behalf of the town and said: “We should never forget the importance history plays in our lives. Our freedoms were hard won all those years ago, and yet we take that for granted and yet all we need do is look around the world to see, not everyone shares our freedoms.”
This event is one of a series of events planned for the town by the Magna Carta Group over May and June when the Charter copy will go round local schools, the libraries and the castle. There will be schools competition to design a catapult, a painting exhibition, the Embroidery Guild Of Ackworth will present the town with a tapestry and a permanent monument to the Magna Carta will be unveiled in the town this summer.
And on the 800th anniversary, Bishop Tony will lead an open air service in the market square on Sunday 14 June when the bells of St Giles and All Saints will be rung together with those of the 25 towns of the Magna Carta Barons Association.
STILL FIGHTING FOR FREEDOM TODAY The vicar of St Giles’s, Fr Bob Cooper had invited Amnesty International into church to mark the event and remind people that freedom was still being fought for around the world. The charity was asking people to sign petitions to free Saudi blogger, Raif Badawi who has been sentenced to 1,000 lashes and almost a decade in prison for blogging about free speech.
You can find out more and sign the petition here:https://www.amnesty.org.uk/actions/saudi-arabia-free-raif-badawi-flogged...