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Magna Carta will return to people of Sandwich, town council confirms

The Magna Carta will be coming back to the people of Sandwich, the town council has confirmed.

The historic document, worth £10 million, will not be sold after a majority of councillors at the meeting voted to keep it.

Cllr John Bragg said: “It’s our intention to get the Magna Carta and Charter of Forest back to Sandwich and hope that we will be able to exhibit it.”

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Mayor of Sandwich Cllr Paul Graeme with Hon Curator Ray Harlow and asst archivists June Edwards, John Hennessy, Mary Stewart and Linda Elliot

Mayor of Sandwich Cllr Paul Graeme with Hon Curator Ray Harlow and asst archivists June Edwards, John Hennessy, Mary Stewart and Linda Elliot

It was found by historian Dr Mark Bateson in the archives at Maidstone, folded inside a Victorian scrapbook.

Cllr Jeremy Watts said: “It is one of the biggest things that has happened to Sandwich in a very long time.

“We shouldn’t make any hasty decisions about it until a working party can consider all the alternatives.”

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Watch: Sandwich keeping its Magna Carta

The council decided a working group consisting of the Mayor of Sandwich Cllr Paul Graeme, deputy mayor Cllr Pip Russell, Cllr David Wood, Cllr John Bragg and archivist Ray Harlow would flesh out the finer details.

Cllr Wood said: “I think that it should stay in Sandwich, that’s very important. The only rush is this exhibition and that will be a big boost for the town.”

He was referring to a free touring exhibition to celebrate the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta, being organised by Visit Kent. The exhibition will visit Faversham, Canterbury, Maidstone, Dover, Rochester and hopefully Sandwich from May to October this year.

Magna Carta found in Maidstone belonging to Sandwich Town Council

Magna Carta found in Maidstone belonging to Sandwich Town Council

In an effort to recoup the cost of keeping the document, which could mean £10,000 for a special cabinet, Cllr Wood suggested loaning it to twinned town Sandwich in Massachusetts for a fee.

He also suggested residents in Sandwich could buy shares in the document so that it would always be theirs and remain in the town.

Discovery Park is a potential stakeholder and it is hoped other businesses, organisations and traders may also contribute and show their support.

The Sandwich Magna Carta was issued to the Cinque Port town in 1300 and is one of only 22 such documents.

At the meeting, the majority voted not to sell the document, but Cllr Wood and Cllr Watts said they felt this decision was too hasty.

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