Kent residents fury as council looking into selling their Magna Carta

A general view of an original Magna Carta from the issue made in 1300 by King Edward l to the borough of Sandwich in Kent, which has recently been discovered in the archives at Kent County Council's Kent History and Library Centre in Maidstone.

A copy of the Magna Carta could be sold off by Kent county council for £20 million in what residents are branding "an act of incredible irresponsibility" to "sell off our town's birthright".

The 719-year-old document - one of just seven in existence - was presented to the barons and port of Faversham in 1300 by Edward I to confirm the rights granted by his grandfather King John in the original "great charter" of 1215.

It was suggested that the document could be sold during a consultation into the future use of 12 Market Place, which is owned by the council and used to display the Magna Carta since the document was found in a scrap book in 2015 in archives in Sandwich.

At a meeting to discuss options, Brian Pain, a resident, said: "[The purchase of] 12 Market Place came about because of the idea of displaying Magna Carta.

A view through a magnifying glass of part of an original Magna Carta from the issue made in 1300 by King Edward l to the borough of Sandwich in Kent which has recently been discovered in the archives at Kent County Council's Kent History and Library Centre in Maidstone.

At the moment, there isn't enough grant money to keep the exhibition going and the cost is described by one resident as "enormous".

"I wondered whether the council had considered turning the whole problem on its head on what we do with the space now and selling Magna Carta? Seriously, sell it to an academic or an academic institution on the condition it comes back once every four years and is displayed here," Brian Pain said.

Kris Barker, a Liberal Democrat councillor said that the option would be "explored among others".

However, Louise Bareham, Faversham's town clerk, told Yahoo news that Faversham Town Council does not wish to sell Magna Carta, and any future plans for it are "off the table" until they have agreed what will happen with the Town Hall.

"Any options explored in future would involve engagement and consultation with the residents of Faversham," she said.

"We recognise the historic significance of this document and that it should be accessible to the public, rather than secured in a vault.

Dr. Mark Bateson, Community History Officer with Kent County Council with an original Magna Carta from the issue made in 1300 by King Edward l to the borough of Sandwich in Kent, which he recently discovered in the archives at Kent County Council's Kent History and Library Centre in Maidstone.

Former journalist Mark Gardner, who has lived in the town for more than 50 years, says it would be "an act of incredible irresponsibility" for the council to "sell off our town's birthright".

"It is something that should be - and is - prized by all of Faversham's residents.

"The response to the exhibition - Magna Carta Rediscovered - in 2015 was tremendous."

"To this end, if we are unable to display Magna Carta in Faversham, we are keen to explore other options for its display elsewhere, including the option of leasing it to museums to generate income for Faversham.

"However, until a final decision is taken on the building, we will not be pursuing this."

-This article first appeared on Yahoo

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