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Magna Carta link to town

Pontefract Magna Carta group is hoping to hold a series of events to raise awareness of its significance to Pontefract and the surrounding areas.
Pictured L to R) Norman Blackburn, artist Emma Horsfield and Sir Bill O'Brien.
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Pontefract Magna Carta group is hoping to hold a series of events to raise awareness of its significance to Pontefract and the surrounding areas. Pictured L to R) Norman Blackburn, artist Emma Horsfield and Sir Bill O'Brien. p307b431

A new museum could be built in Pontefract as part of the town’s Magna Carta 800th anniversary celebrations next year.

The Pontefract Magna Carta Group formed in January to plan events for next year’s 800th anniversary of the signing of the charter.

The Magna Carta was the first document imposed on a King of England by group of his barons in an attempt to limit his powers and protect their laws. One of the barons involved in getting the charter signed was John de Lacy, then the lord of Pontefract Castle.

As part of its plans, the Pontefract group hopes to put up a Magna Carta monument outside Pontefract Town Hall and possibly open a new museum dedicated to the town’s links with the charter.

Sir Bill O’Brien, group secretary, said: “Pontefract is the only town in Yorkshire with links to the Magna Carta and we need to take advantage of that.

“There is a great deal of history and we want Pontefract to become a tourist town.

“Eventually what we are building towards is a new museum and we want to make the castle the centre point of our plans.”

The group, which includes local artist and writer Emma Horsfield, also hopes to use the anniversary to educate schoolchildren about the Magna Carta.

Mrs Horsfield said: “Most people don’t really know what Magna Carta is about let alone its links to Pontefract.

“But our town was so important in the signing of the charter.”

Some principles from the Magna Carta still form the human rights enjoyed by people today - that the church will be free, people shall receive justice by their peers (today’s jury) and no person can sell another person (no slavery).

The group is already planning a number of celebration events to mark the 800th anniversary of the signing of the charter next June.

There will be events at Pontefract Castle and in the town centre.

Norman Blackburn, group chairman, said: “It’s no good having a big party for the anniversary and then forgetting all about it.

“We want it to have a lasting effect for many years to come.”

For more information on the group contact Sir Bill on 01977 709868.

 

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