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Clare: Town calls for help over historic festival

10:50 13 May 2014

A copy of the Magna Carta at St Edmundsbury Cathedral in Bury St Edmunds.

A copy of the Magna Carta at St Edmundsbury Cathedral in Bury St Edmunds.

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One of west Suffolk’s most historic towns has called on its residents to help celebrate its unique affiliation with the Magna Carta.

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Plans to celebrate the 800th anniversary of the world-renowned democratic document are well under way in Clare, with a small committee spearheading activities to be held in the town next year.

Richard de Clare, Earl of Hertford, and his son Gilbert de Clare, were among 25 barons that forced King John into signing Magna Carta in 1215, the first time a king of England had his powers limited by law.

Committee member Kate Terry, who is head of history at Stour Valley Community School, outlined the committee’s vision for Clare’s celebrations at the town’s annual meeting, with a packed week of historical activities due to be held in June 2015.

“We in Clare, a small town in west Suffolk, have a significant stake in Magna Carta, so what a shame we let the opportunity go past without marking it,” she said.

“We’d just really like to surprise and delight the residents of Clare and the wider community in a year’s time.”

Among Miss Terry’s plans were special events for the curriculum of both Stour Valley and other schools in the local area, learning about the origins and significance of Magna Carta as well as Clare’s role in its inception.

There will be a day of historical talks featuring speakers such as Paul R. Davis, the author of Three Chevrons Red, The Clares: A Marcher Dynasty in Wales, England and Ireland, as well as a walk between Clare and Castle Hedingham – the homes of the two barons.

Other events include a medieval banquet and the week concluding with a series of activities in Clare Country Park, including a procession and cultural fayre.

Miss Terry added: “We can’t do it on our own. We know we’ve got an enormous amount of talent in Clare, and we were wondering if you would help us in any way you can.

“We hope that in a year’s time we really will have surprised and delighted – in a good way – the residents of Clare, but we need your support to do it.”

Volunteers are wanted for planning and managing events, as well as helping out on the day. Businesses and societies in Clare are also being sought to lend a hand in any way they can.

Celebrations will be held around the world next year to mark 800 years since the document was signed, with Clare’s involvement reflecting a rich heritage here in Suffolk.

An original copy of the Magna Carta is currently on display at St Edmundsbury Cathedral in Bury St Edmunds, where a group of barons met to discuss Magna Carta in 1214, while barons from Framlingham and Huntingfield were also involved.

For more details or to get involved, visit www.magnacartainclare.org

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