Join us for an evening discovering how the Sandwich Magna Carta and Charter of the Forest have been conserved in recent years. The evening’s speakers, Chris Woods, director of the National Conservation Service (UK), Luke Purser, co-founder and senior partner of Hawkwood International, and Fenella G. France, chief of the Preservation Research and Testing Division at the Library of Congress, will discuss the rediscovery of these documents in 2015 and the scientific analysis of them.
In 2021, Museum of the Bible hosted the exhibition Magna Carta: Tyranny. Justice. Liberty. For the first time in America, two Magna Cartas were on display together. One was the Sandwich Magna Carta, issued in 1300, along with the accompanying Charter of the Forest. It was this Magna Carta that Thomas Paine likely saw during his time in England. The exhibition in Washington, DC, made possible a project, in collaboration with the National Conservation Service of the UK and the Library of Congress, to carry out scientific analysis on these priceless documents and so ensure ongoing conservation.
This special event will be the final opportunity to view the Sandwich Magna Carta in person before it returns home to England. The program will describe the detailed conservation analysis recently completed on the documents as well as discuss the ways that Magna Carta was used in the American Revolution and by Thomas Paine.
Chris Woods is the founding director of NCS, a non-profit membership organization that supports archive and heritage institutions that do not have conservation staff. NCS works on site with custodians to assess, identify, and make plans for improvements in the conservation of collections. It receives no public funding and operates entirely independently to promote high standards of conservation. A conservator of archives and photographic collections of over 35 years standing, Chris is a recognized expert in the conservation of parchment manuscripts and in design of archive storage buildings.
He advises and supports UK cathedrals and others in the conservation of their exemplars of Magna Carta and other great charters of King John, Henry III, and Edward I. Formerly head of preservation for the University of Oxford, Bodleian Libraries, and director of Collection Services for the Tate galleries, Chris established NCS in 2009. It now has over 200 members across the UK and British Isles.
Luke Purser, co-founder and senior partner of Hawkwood International, has been a director of English Heritage, and of the Royal College of Art, in London. He has worked with partners across the globe raising philanthropic and sponsorship income for leading educational and cultural institutions, including the University of Oxford, the Ditchley Foundation, and the Courtauld Institute.
Luke co-founded the Dubai-based Global Grad Show in 2014. In 2018, Luke and his Hawkwood co-founder Alon Shulman organized the first-ever official music performance at the Stonehenge. In 2019, he worked with the Gagosian Gallery in London to create a ground-breaking exhibition featuring Rembrandt’s finest self-portrait, alongside rarely seen works by Warhol, Richter, Picasso, and Jenny Saville.
Luke grew up in Herefordshire, England, and was chorister in Hereford Cathedral. In 1989 Luke was invested as Boy Bishop at Hereford. His reign lasted for three weeks and in this time, he played an important part in services, wearing full episcopal regalia, in a tradition that goes back to the thirteenth century.
Luke is an advisor to the Queen Rania Foundation in Jordan, a Trustee of the Egypt Exploration Society, and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. He studied history at the University of Oxford. Luke and his wife, Anna, divide their time between homes in London and France.
Fenella G. France
Fenella G. France, chief of the Preservation Research and Testing Division, Library of Congress, is an international specialist on environmental deterioration to cultural objects. She has developed a research infrastructure that integrates heritage and scientific data and focuses on data visualization. Her team is expanding the use of portable instrumentation through the “go-team” and the development of heritage reference materials that support the investigation and preservation of cultural heritage.
Dr. France has worked on projects including World Trade Center Artifacts, Ellis Island Immigration Museum, Llullaillaco High Altitude Museum in Chile, and the 1507 Waldseemüller World Map. She collaborates extensively with academic, cultural, forensic, and federal institutions. She is currently Principal Investigator (P)I on a Mellon-funded project to scientifically assess the condition of print materials in US research libraries. Other international collaborations include: Inks & Skins, University College Cork, Ireland, Collections Demography, SEAHA doctoral training, Beast2Craft Biocodicology project, and CHANGE — Cultural Heritage Analysis for New Generations.