FOLLOWERS MAY RECALL my post on the Magna Carta, January 3 this year. Well, I omitted to mention the three copies of the document held at the Society of Antiquaries of London. This is particularly remiss of me as I’m a Fellow of the Society!
The first one is the Black Book of Peterborough Abbey. This is a 13th century copy of the original 1215 manuscript. This is the most radical version as it contains the clause referring to no taxation to be imposed without the common consent of the Kingdom and the revolutionary ‘security clause’ (see January 3 post).
Black Book of Peterborough Magna Carta
The second is the Halesowen Abbey copy of the 1225 version. This is a scroll document and may have been produced by the Abbey because the Abbot had to go to Court to fight against unjust action by King John in 1279. So it was the Abbot’s legal defence document (and he won).
Halesowen Abbey scroll copy
The third is the Hart Book of Statutes. This is a 14th century volume of law (statutes) probably produced especially for lawyers – a modern day law book in fact. They (lawyers) had to read the law from somewhere and these statues books were produced (most likely in London) for that purpose. This particular 14th century book contains the Magna Carta.
My apologies to the Society for overlooking these copies …….
Artemus Smith’s Notebooks
I have discovered another volume of Artemus’ notebooks (followers will recall Dr Artemus Smith was an archaeologist of great courage, determination and fiction). Here is another extract:
My colleague, Benedict Tantamount made mention to me:
“I had a near miss with the constabulary the other day. I was speeding in my motor vehicle and was chased and apprehended by the police, but with my quick thinking I managed to get away with it.
When I was eventually stopped, the police officer approached the car and said, ‘It’s been a long day and my shift is almost over, so if you can give me a good excuse for your behaviour, I’ll let you go.’
I thought for a few seconds and then said, ‘My wife ran away with a policeman about a week ago and I thought you might be that officer trying to bring her back!'”