UEA academic authenticates ‘lost’ edition of the Magna Carta valued at £10m

PUBLISHED: 17:01 08 February 2015 | UPDATED: 17:01 08 February 2015

The Salisbury Cathedral Magna Carta.

The Salisbury Cathedral Magna Carta.

A University of East Anglia professor has authenticated a previously unknown edition of the Magna Carta which had lain forgotten in a council’s archives.

The discovery of the version of the historical parchment, which could be worth £10m, in the files of the history department of Kent County Council, has been described as an important historical find by an expert.

The document was found in the archives kept in Maidstone but belonging to the town of Sandwich.

Speaking from Paris, Professor Nicholas Vincent, of the University of East Anglia, said: “It is a fantastic discovery which comes in the week that the four other known versions were brought together at the Houses of Parliament.

“It is a fantastic piece of news for Sandwich which puts it in a small category of towns and institutions that own a 1300 issue.”

Prof Vincent said the fact Sandwich had its own Magna Carta gives backing to the theory that it was issued more widely than previously thought to at least 50 cathedral towns and ports.

And he added the discovery gives him hope that further copies will also turn up.

There are only 24 editions of the Magna Carta in known existence around the world.

Prof Vincent said: “It must have been much more widely distributed than previously thought because if Sandwich had one ... the chances are it went out to a lot of other towns.

“And it is very likely that there are one or two out there somewhere that no one has spotted yet.”

Prof Vincent, who specialises in medieval history, said the value of the Sandwich edition could be up to £10 million, but it was ripped with about a third missing.

He said: “This would be an upper value as it has, like the town of Sandwich, suffered over time from French invasions and the like.”

The discovery was made by archivist Dr Mark Bateson at the end of December just before the 800th anniversary year celebrations of King John’s concession.

The Sandwich Magna Carta was found when Prof Vincent asked Dr Bateson to look up a copy of the town’s original Charter of the Forest.

It was found next to the charter in a Victorian scrapbook and its high value comes from the fact it also comprises the Forest Charter. There is only one other such pair in the world, owned by Oriel College, Oxford.

It is understood that Sandwich does not intend to sell its Magna Carta but instead is hoping to benefit from its potential as a tourist attraction.


  • To return to the topic, the point ought to be made that Sandwich was one of the Cinque Ports who had been granted privileges by the Crown in return for providing ships to defend the coast of South East England. Thus it is entirely probable that a copy was sent to Sandwich.

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    Old Hand

    Sunday, February 8, 2015

  • If only Norfolk County Council had some old tat worth flogging, it would go some way to cover the £33 million incinerator money thrown away by Ann Steward, the Tory candidate in North Norfolk, and the half a billion of funding cuts from her friend the Ravi in No. 10 Downing Street.

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    David CameronisaIiar

    Sunday, February 8, 2015

  • Hilarious John.....comedy gold combined with biting satire. Oh yes .

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    Sunday, February 8, 2015

  • I assume that Vincent, after finding the latest copy of the MC, had to either have a lie down in that pathetic room or have his photo taken with a goat ?

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    Sunday, February 8, 2015

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