Let's put Worcestershire on the tourist map in 2015

In 2015 we mark two important anniversaries in our nationís history - the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta in 1215 and the 750th of Simon de Montfortís Parliament of 1265. And Worcestershire has a central part to play in both these anniversaries.

The Magna Carta, represented the first successful attempt by the people to limit the Kingís power by constitutional means. It is now viewed as the document from which democracy was born and the basis for English common law. King John, the King who wrote and signed the Magna Carta (well, actually he sealed it to be technical), made many visits to the county and is buried in front of the high altar in Worcester Cathedral.

Simon de Montfort called the knights of the shires to Westminster for the first representative English Parliament in January 1265. Thatís why he is generally acknowledged as the founder of English Parliamentary democracy. Worcestershireís connection is through the Battle of Evesham in August 1265.

The calling of the Parliament was part of de Montfortís rebellion against the monarchy. The future King Edward I cornered de Montfort and his army in the bend of the River Avon at Evesham. It is here that Simon de Montfort died. This famous Parliamentarian is now commemorated in the grounds of Evesham Abbey, where some of his cruelly dismembered body may still lie.

Local Evesham people and the Simon de Montfort Society have started planning their events for two years time, but we need to make it a big occasion. And other cities and towns with links to the Magna Carta seem to be exploiting the opportunity more than Worcester is, despite the city being the resting place of the author of the great document.

I am deputy chairman of the Advisory Group for the 2015 Anniversaries in Parliament. Itís exciting to see the programme of events planned across the country. I donít want Worcestershire to miss out.

I have written to Worcester Cathedral, Worcestershire County Council and Wychavon District Council to see if we can co-ordinate some significant activities to mark these anniversaries properly.

Worcestershire has played a pivotal role in the story of the freedoms and democracy that we have enjoyed in this country for so many years. Worcestershire must now get the recognition it deserves with local events that mark the significance of these two important dates in history.


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