12th January 2015 – Braintree District and Magna Carta – 2015 Medieval Programme at Braintree District Museum
2015 sees many celebrations of the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta, sealed by King John in June 1215, taking place across the country. This autumn, Braintree District Museum will be offering a diverse programme of exhibitions and events looking at the important local context of the Magna Carta story, and what the local area was like in the late 12th – early 13th Centuries. The Charter is seen as the first proper attempt to limit the power of the King by law, and the foundation of modern democracy and constitutional law.
The central story of Braintree District is the role of Robert de Vere, local baron of Hedingham Castle. Robert was one of the 25 barons who met at Runnymeade to force this ‘Great Charter’ on the King. Castle Hedingham Parish Council has been awarded a Heritage Lottery Fund Sharing Heritage grant to celebrate its status as home to one of the Magna Carta Barons, and a key feature of this celebratory programme will be an exhibition looking at Robert de Vere’s and Castle Hedingham’s story in the events surrounding Magna Carta. The Museum is pleased to be putting together the exhibition for the Parish Council which will launch in St Nicholas Church, Castle Hedingham, on 12 June 2015. In addition to the interpretation provided by the museum the exhibition will also feature work by the local school and Heritage and Art Societies, aspects coordinated by the parish council. Following a period in Castle Hedingham the exhibition will transfer to Braintree District Museum where objects, interpretation and interactives looking at Braintree buildings and life in the late 12th and early 13th Century will be added to give a wide-ranging look at the locality in this period of daily toil and political trouble. The resulting combined exhibition ‘Medieval Toil and Trouble: Castle Hedingham – Magna Carta’ will open at the museum on 22 September 2015, closing on 5 January 2016.
To complement the exhibition the Museum is planning a medieval-themed event day during October half term with fun and educational activities for all the family. ‘Knights, Peasants and Medieval Marvels’ will take place on Saturday 24 October 10am – 3pm. Activities already confirmed include a medieval play by the Riotous Assembly and Castle Players of Castle Hedingham and knight-themed family craft workshops. Many more activities will be planned throughout the day, keep an eye on the museum’s website and social media for further details.
The Museum is also holding two talks connected to Castle Hedingham and the Medieval period. On Wednesday 14 October at 3pm local historian Charles Bird will be presenting his new research on the Bingham Pottery of Castle Hedingham, a 19th Century industry partly inspired by the local medieval Hedingham Ware. On Wednesday 25 November at 3pm archaeologist David Andrews will be giving a talk on the Medieval Castles of East Anglia. Tickets for each talk are just £3 and include light refreshments. To book a place please call 01376 328868.
Jo Beavis, Councillor for Hedingham and Maplestead and Cabinet Member for Culture said, ‘The 800thanniversary of Magna Carta offers a great opportunity to highlight the important heritage of Castle Hedingham and the role the de Vere family played in politics for nearly 700 years. The exhibition and event programme will give local people the chance to really imagine what the district was like in 1215 and to celebrate the rich heritage still visible in the buildings and landscape today. It is lovely that Braintree District Museum and Castle Hedingham Parish Council are working in partnership to make this heritage accessible to as many local people as possible’.
‘Medieval Toil and Trouble’ will be open during normal museum opening hours, Tuesday – Saturday 10am – 4pm from 22 September 2015 – 5 January 2016. Normal admission charges will apply (£3 adults, £1.50 concessions, children free). For more information on Museum exhibitions and events please visit our website at www.braintreemuseum.co.uk or call 01376 328868.
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Notes to editors:
The Castle Hedingham exhibition has been funded by a Heritage Lottery Fund Sharing Heritage Grant.
Sharing Heritage is a not-for-profit group wanting to explore their community’s heritage. With a commitment from HLF of £3m each year, Sharing Heritage grants between £3,000 and £10,000 are available to groups who want to discover their local heritage. Projects range from exploring local archaeology and a community’s cultures and traditions to identifying and recording wildlife and protecting the surrounding environment. Managing and training volunteers and holding festivals and events to commemorate the past are also covered
HERITAGE LOTTERY FUND
Using money raised through the National Lottery, the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) aims to make a lasting difference for heritage, people and communities across the UK and help build a resilient heritage economy. From museums, parks and historic places to archaeology, natural environment and cultural traditions, it invests in every part of our diverse heritage. HLF has supported almost 36,000 projects with £5.9bn across the UK. For more information go to www.hlf.org.uk.