Magna Carta in Durham

In 2015 it will be 800 years since Magna Carta was agreed between King John and his barons, so enshrining the rule of law in English society and limiting authoritarian rule.

In the summer of 2015, see the only surviving 1216 issue of the Magna Carta in a fascinating exhibition at Durham University’s Palace Green Library, in the heart of Durham City’s UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Magna Carta and the Changing Face of Revolt, 1 June to 31 August, will show one of the three issues of the charter held by the Cathedral, alongside material from the University’s collections and other museums, libraries and archives.

Often seen in terms of the foundation of liberty and the establishment of the rule of law, what happens if we think of Magna Carta as an outcome of rebellion, forced on an overbearing king by disgruntled barons?

Exploring questions about the nature of rebellion, through the Wars of the Roses, Civil Wars, Jacobite rebellions and Chartist movements, this exhibition is a unique opportunity to discover the people who, whether intentionally or not, became rebels, and to see some iconic material associated with their actions.

Fringe events include…

Saturday 13 June
The Great Charter – Magna Carta Community Opera
Durham Cathedral
World premiere community opera composed by Timothy Craig Harrison and Paul Hodgson. Performances from local children, professional artists and the Durham singers. 7pm. £6-£15 03000 266 600

Sunday 14 June
Celebrate, debate and reflect on those rights people throughout history have fought for by enjoying a cup of tea with friends or your community.

Summer holidays
Fun for families
Palace Green Library
Fun Magna Carta events for all the family. 1pm – 3pm every day. Free ‘make and take’ activity, from crowns to coats of arms, quill writing to flag-making. Older children and family members will enjoy informal talks every Tuesday and Thursday 2pm – 3pm.
Free, no need to book.

Event Sponsors


Event Information


Palace Green Library
Palace Green, Durham, County Durham, DH1 3RN


31 August 2015

Additional Information

Magna Carta photograph © chapter of Durham Cathedral, 1.2 Reg 3