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A rare Magna Carta document is on permanent display in Faversham Town Hall

One of the most important constitutional documents in English history is the centerpiece of a new permanent exhibition in Faversham which opened on Saturday.

The previously rarely seen Magna Carta is the latest reissue of the seal of King Edward I and was granted due to the city’s links with the Cinque Ports.

The Magna Carta is the centerpiece of the display

Now is displayed alongside Faversham Charters at Town Hall and free to all.

It is one of the most famous documents in English history, revered around the world as one of the founding documents of freedom and democracy.

The spectacular selection of manuscripts and other artefacts have been prepared by an all-local team, led by the City Council, in a hugely important new exhibition that draws on the city’s rich historical heritage.

Faversham is one of the few English towns that can boast of having a medieval version of King John’s famous Magna Carta. And his version, made more than 700 years ago, is one of the best preserved of all.

One of the team behind the exhibition is rare book specialist Justin Croft, who is a regular expert on the BBC’s Antiques Roadshow.

The launch of the exhibition at Town Hall with the Mayor of Faversham Cllr Trevor Martin and MP Helen Whately
The launch of the exhibition at Town Hall with the Mayor of Faversham Cllr Trevor Martin and MP Helen Whately

Also included in the exhibit:

* The Faversham Custom Book ― a unique medieval manuscript retaining its original binding.

* The oldest surviving example of the seal of Faversham, bearing the image of a ship and dating from the year 1295.

* The medieval city horn ― a mysterious artifact used for centuries to call meetings of the city government, and one of the few surviving examples.

* A lifetime portrait of Henry VIII painted in an illuminated initial on the King’s Charter of 1544.

* Two superb early 17th century manuscript maps of Faversham’s Creek and the Swale Estuary ― already shed new light on the town’s coastal geography.

Since the artifacts have been relatively understudied in the past, it is hoped that they will also attract national and international audiences, especially through the website

The exhibition was conceived during the 2020-21 lockdowns by a small team of local historians and archivists working with the city council, meeting almost entirely via Zoom.

Local experts Darius Wilson Associates designed and built the exhibit itself using state-of-the-art museum technology to ensure the highest standards of safety and preservation.

The project has been fully realized with funding provided by Faversham Borough Council, The Edward Vinson Charitable Trust, Faversham Heritage Fund and Henry Hatch Charity of Faversham Municipal Charities, Bensted’s Charity, Queenborough Fisheries Trust and Swale Borough Council.

Faversham Mayor Cllr Trevor Martin, who attended the launch with Faversham and Mid-Kent MP Helen Whately, said: “Faversham has a rich history and a unique collection of medieval town charters including the Magna Carta issued by Edward I to the Barons of Faversham is probably the best known.

“The City Council has been working for a few years to allow posting and I’m proud that everyone can see them.”

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