Magna Carta: A musical backdrop

The Chandos Singers
Conductor: Malcolm Hill
Soloists: Jane Hunt, Paul Feldwick, Peter Hodgson

Magna Carta

Magna Carta
A Musical Backdrop

In Aid of Freedom from Torture
Saturday 21st November 2015
St John the Evangelist, South Parade, 3pm

Tickets £10 (Students £5) Ticket
Enquiries: The Bath Box Office 01225 463362
Full details from

Magna Carta was signed by King John on the Monday (or possibly Tuesday) after Trinity Sunday 1215. Surprisingly, we know much of what was sung at the special Mass on Trinity morning at Windsor, where the king and his combative Archbishop Langton were staying. It seems that after the morning Mass, Langton went to Runnymede, where the barons were assembling. Since the 750th anniversary celebrations in 1965, more evidence has come to light about the specially-chosen texts that were sung on the eve of the signing – by the king’s small but trained group and the barons’ large but less disciplined body of singers.

The concert will include reconstructions of both texts, with other music known to have been sung during that week. Most of the church music was still plainsong, but contemporary secular polyphonic textures were starting to be introduced. The concert ends with Bath poet Caroline Heaton’s poem about the effects of Magna Carta, musically set in a late- medieval style.

Between the two short parts of the concert, historian Dominic Singleton will give a talk on the relevance of the document.

The concert is in support of Freedom from Torture (previously known as the Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture)

Contacts: Hugh Dowson, 01225.464234 (information)
Ticket Office: 01225 463362 / This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Magna Carta? Why? What? When?

Magna Carta: A Musical Backdrop

Sat 21st Nov 2015, 3pm at St John the Evangelist Church, South Parade, Bath
This Chandos Singers concert is in aid of Freedom from Torture.

Why is Bath's Magna Carta concert linked to human rights group Freedom from Torture? The Magna Carta of 1215 was a temporary peace treaty. It lasted a few weeks.

One commentator points out: "Just after the Second World War, former First Lady of the USA Eleanor Roosevelt called the new United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights ‘a Magna Carta for all mankind’ – one of many people to draw inspiration from one of the most famous documents in British history. In truth, Magna Carta – 'the Great Charter' – ... has become, over the centuries, the basis and byword for the freedom, justice and democracy enjoyed by billions across the world."

The concert will include reconstructions of texts that were sung on the eve of the sealing of Magna Carta, with other music known to have been sung during that week. Bath poet Caroline Heaton will perform a musically-set poem about the effects of Magna Carta, and historian Dominic Singleton will speak on the relevance of Magna Carta - Great Charter - today.

Freedom from Torture provides direct clinical services to survivors of torture who arrive in the UK, as well as striving to protect and promote their rights. Since its inception, over 30 years ago, over 50,000 individuals have been referred to FFT for help. Thanks to the dedication of staff and volunteers – as well as scores of passionate supporters and funders – thousands of torture survivors have been able to rebuild their lives in incredibly difficult circumstances. FFT was formerly the Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture.

FFT has a local fundraising group: the Bristol-Bath FFT branch. FFT costings are, e.g.:

  • £30 could pay for six survivors to travel to Freedom from Torture for their first assessment
  • £100 could buy a month of counselling sessions for a survivor of torture.

Two of the four surviving copies of the June 1215 Magna Carta are housed at the British Library. A third (the best preserved of the four) is at Salisbury Cathedral.