Magna Carta: 800th celebrations in our towns

800th Anniversary Celebrations

Pontefract is gearing itself up to be at the centre of celebrations and events to mark 800 years of the Magna Carta.

Pontefract is particularly involved in the national celebrations because the Lord of Pontefract Castle, John De Lacy Baron of Pontefract, was one of the twenty-five Barons who forced King John to agree the Charter in June 1215 but Barnsley too will join in the celebrations with a special art exhibition by pupils from Barnsley College entitled Freedom and inspired by the Magna Carta. It will be on display in St Mary's Barnsley on Monday June 15 as part of a special service to mark the 800th anniversary where Bishop Nick will preach and the boys and men of Wakefield Cathedral choir will perform Evensong at 7pm

On Monday 8th June an evening race meeting at Pontefract Race Course will kick off the events in Pontefract by featuring the Magna Carta Stakes.

On  11th June at Pontefract Castle, Year 7 students attending High Schools throughout the Wakefield District are accepting a challenge to design and build a medieval catapult. Teams of 4-5 students are required to assume the role of medieval engineers to create and build, in miniature, a 'siege engine capable of attacking a stone castle'.

The competition will be a fun and engaging way to help students develop their skills in historic research,design and technology, communication and team work as well on  numeracy and literacy and the challenge is the work of the Historic Curriculum Group of teachers from High Schools across the area, supported by The Pontefract Magna Carta Group,

An outdoor Band Concert and Hog Roast will take place on Wednesday 10th June at Kings Croft Hotel bandstand with the Yorkshire Volunteers Band from 7 p.m.  Tickets are £10 per person, available from Kings Croft in advance or on entry, and at St Giles Church foyer on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

A formal dinner with local historian speaker, Simon Tomson will be held at Kings Croft Hotel. On display during the evening will be the Pontefract Facsimile of the Magna Carta and a quilted wall hanging, depicting symbolic Magna Carta images, made by the Ackworth and District Embroiders' Guild. The price for a three-course dinner is £25 per person. A booking and pre order choices form is available from John Colvill 01977 704864.


At a special event on Sunday 14th June between 2.30 p.m. and 5.30 p.m., bell ringers from All Saints Church will attempt a new bell peal method to be called “John De Lacy”. An Outdoor Service in the Buttercross preceded by St Giles bells will also take place at 3.00 p.m. The Rt. Revd Tony Robinson Bishop for Wakefield Area will conduct a Commemoration Service, The High Sheriff of West Yorkshire Ed Anderson will also attend, and Yvette Cooper MP has been invited.

Afterwards an event marketed as “Liberteas” will be held in the St Giles Café. Where tea, coffee and cakes will be on sale, the proceeds of which will go to Prince of Wales Hospice.


 Pictured here former local MP, Sir Bill O'Brien receives a fascimile of the Magna Carta on behalf of the town with Norman from the Magna Carta Group

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