Christchurch Culture and Learning Arena (CAL), whose activities focus on the heritage of the ancient borough of Christchurch, have commemorated the 800th anniversary of the signing of Magna Carta thanks to a grant of £7,388 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).
King John was a frequent visitor to Christchurch Priory and the celebrations included a re-enactment of one of his visits. A fanfare, by Twynham School Trumpeters, announced the arrival of ‘King John and his Entourage’ at Christchurch Priory to deliver an Inheritance Charter – re-enacted by Bournemouth Shakespeare Players. A peal of bells announced the king’s approach to the Constable’s House, in the proximity of which he stayed during each of his ten visits to Christchurch.
The Mayor of Christchurch, Cllr Frederick Neale, unveiled a plaque to commemorate the visits and the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta (courtesy of English Heritage) in the presence of representatives of the borough council and ex-mayors. After banqueting on the bowling green, (courtesy of the Kings Arms Hotel), the town crier led the king and the royal entourage to the Saxon Cross, where Christchurch Junior School provided entertainment in music and dance before his departure.
A display of vestments and regalia was held in the mayor’s parlour while a heritage marquee in Saxon Square housed the Magna Carta Census Scrolls, which visitors were encouraged to sign as a reaffirmation of the benefits of the Charter.
Christchurch History Society and other local historians were on hand to provide information and a heritage trail was led by historian Michael Andrews around the ancient Plantagenet boundary.
In addition to the HLF grant, which contributed to their specifically designated activities in the event, Christchurch Council provided £500 of funding.