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 Helmsley’s Magna Carta Celebrations

 Why is Helmsley celebrating the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta – the ‘great charter’ of rights and liberties sealed by King John at Runnymede in June 1215? Because our own Baron Robert de Ros, who built Helmsley Castle and granted the town a borough charter, was one of 25 ‘Sureties’ (guarantors) appointed to make sure King John kept his word. Together with other English towns and villages whose Barons were involved, Helmsley is part of the national salute to the historic document which was the foundation of ‘freedom under law’ throughout the English-speaking world. Read more inside about the Magna Carta events.

 Magna Carta Tea Party

There will be a tea party at Helmsley Town Hall for the over-75s of Helmsley and Carlton on Tuesday 16 June,. 3:30pm-5:30pm. If you would like to come along, please contact Jane Barker, 01439 770355by Friday 5 June.

 Magna Carta Events

On Sunday 14 June 2015

11am-3pm: A Living History Walkway presented by Helmsley in Business along the path from Castlegate to the Castle steps, with stalls, street entertainment, Morris Dancing, Medieval Surprises and the 1812 Youth Theatre show: Magna Carta: Helmsley’s Story! Join the Shield Trail around the shops of Helmsley and find your very own Knight in Shining Armour...

3pm-4pm: Bell ringers at All Saints Church ring a special quarter peal of ‘Magna Carta Delight’, as part of a national belling-ringing event. The ringers will host an open tower event from 1pm - 3pm for visitors to climb the tower, to watch ringing and see the bells.

4.15pm-5pm: Bilsdale Silver Band play in Market Place.

5pm-5.50pm: Ecumenical ‘Songs of Praise’ Service at All Saints Church.

6pm-8.30pm: Town Picnic in Helmsley Castle

By kind permission of English Heritage, Helmsley residents and friends are invited to the Castle to reprise the memorable Golden Jubilee picnic of 2002. Bilsdale Silver Band will play, there will be a falconry demonstration by Duncombe Park’s International Birds of Prey Centre, and the Magna Carta Exhibition (see below) will be open to view. Bring food, drink, rugs, folding chairs etc. All plastic, not glass, please, don’t walk on low walls or grassy slopes, and take picnic debris home with you. No tents/gazebos. Access for mobility scooters (up to the South Barbican).

 Up to 9pm: Helmsley Walled Garden and Café will remain open.

If the weather is bad, the Castle Picnic cannot take place. Helmsley in Business activities will take place in the Town Hall, and Bilsdale Silver Band will play in All Saints Church 4.15-5pm.

Announcements will be made on the day!

Other Events

A delegation from Helmsley, led by Freemen Jane Barker and Ken Claridge, attended a reception by the Lord Mayor of London at the Mansion House on Tuesday 12 May.

Magna Carta Exhibition at Helmsley Castle throughout June, including a facsimile copy of Magna Carta itself and artefacts relating to Robert de Ros. Free entry for Helmsley residents (on proof of residence, such as a utility bill) from Thurs 11 to Wed 17 June inclusive.

Thurs 11 June, 6pm-7pm: Illustrated Talk on ‘Helmsley’s Baron and Magna Carta’ by Martin Vander Weyer at Helmsley Arts Centre, tickets £5 from the Box Office. (A short version of this talk can be seen on YouTube).

Magna Carta Barons Cards and Tea-towels will be available at retail outlets in the town and at the events — profits to fund the event programme.



 Magna Carta Celebrations 2015  at Helmsley Sunday 14th June 2014

Helmsley’s Magna Carta Baron is the Talk of the Town
Friday 20th March, 7.30pm, Helmsley Archaeological and Historical Society will be hosting a talk “Helmsley’s Baron and the Magna Carta".  This will be given by Martin Vander Weyer - a regular columnist for the Gazette & Herald, but also author, playwright and poet. He is spearheading arrangements for Helmsley Town Council's celebrations of the Magna Carta.
"Helmsley’s Baron”  - Robert de Ros (1182-1227) - is chiefly remembered in local history for having rebuilt the timber fortifications of Helmsley Castle in stone. But he had a larger role in English history which Helmsley will commemorate at the Castle on 14 June this year; he was among 25 barons elected to compel the observance by King John of the terms of Magna Carta as agreed at Runnymede. Having previously been loyal to John, de Ros emerged as one of the chief ‘incentors of this pest’ — the resistance to monarchical absolutism of which Magna Carta was the first symbol, and from which the modern rule of law and liberty of the citizen descend.
The Helmsley Archaeological and Historical Society was formed 65 years ago.  From September to April it runs a monthly programme of illustrated lectures held at the North York Moors National Park Authority Committee Room, Helmsley. These are on a wide range of topics, mostly concerning the archaeology and history of the local area. During the summer months, a series of visits is arranged, often to sites which have featured in the previous winter's programme.
For further details of this meeting and of the Society in general, please visit the website http://www.helmsleyarchaeologicalandhistoricalsociety.org.uk/ or telephone (01439) 771781.

 A plaster cast of the effigy of Robert de Ros which was made for display at the Great Exhibition of 1851 and which is currently in the Victoria & Albert Museum. The original effigy is in The Temple Church, London where Robert de Ros was buried.
© Susan Harrison.


Helmsley is delighted to announce that it will be receiving a facsimile copy of the Magna Carta in 2015. Baron Robert de Ros of Helmsley Castle was one of the principal rebel barons who secured the charter from King John in 1215.


At Runnymede, beside the Thames, the baronial army met King John in June 1215 and there, twenty-four of their barons – and the Mayor of London – were chosen to ensure that the king kept to his word. Twenty of the twenty-two towns and villages that made up their chief manors in 1215 have come together to form the Magna Carta Barons Association and celebrate eight hundred years of their communities’ history and the connection their barons had with a document that has become the foundation of the rights and liberties of much of the English-speaking world and beyond.


A facsimile of the rare 1215 edition held by the British Library will be printed on parchment for each of the following villages and towns:


North of England barons

Helmsley, North Yorkshire

Skipton, North Yorkshire

Thirsk, North Yorkshire

Topcliffe, North Yorkshire

Alnwick, Northumberland

Warkworth, Northumberland

Pontefract, West Yorkshire


      Other English Barons

Castle Hedingham, Essex

Little Dunmow, Essex

Pleshey, Essex

Stansted Mountfichet, Essex

Framlingham, Suffolk

Huntingfield, Suffolk

Walkern, Hertfordshire

Leicester, Leicestershire

Belvoir, Leicestershire

Curry Mallet, Somerset

Trowbridge, Wiltshire

Long Crendon, Buckinghamshire

West Greenwich, London


Each facsimile will be displayed with two exhibition banners, one about the charter and the other about the local baron, to become the centrepiece of a wide range of events and activities being planned in the lead-up to June 2015. After the celebrations are over, our facsimile will remain in Helmsley as a permanent reminder of its connection with Magna Carta for local residents, schoolchildren and visitors. The facsimile and exhibition have been made possible by a grant of £12,500 to the Magna Carta Barons Association from the 800th Anniversary Commemoration Committee of the Magna Carta Trust.

Helmsley Contact: Councillor Martin Vander Weyer 01439 770292  mvweyer@btinternet.com

Magna Carta Barons Association  Contact: Peter Sinclair peter@magnacartabarons.info


The Magna Carta Trust’s 800th Anniversary Commemoration Committee is charged by the Magna Carta Trust to co-ordinate activities, raise the profile of the anniversary and deliver a number of key national and international aspirations. For more information, visit www.magnacarta800th.com.