Type to search

Police arrest Magna Carta hammer thief in cathedral

West Europe

Police arrest Magna Carta hammer thief in cathedral

Magna Carta exhibition at Salisbury Cathedral. Photo credit: Salisbury Cathedral

A thief was foiled by police in an attempt to steal the best preserved of the four surviving copies of the 1215 Magna Carta kept at Salisbury Cathedral.

Police arrested a  45-year-old man on 25 October when he attempted to use a hammer to try to break the glass box protecting the “great charter” shortly before the Evensong service. They wrestled him to the ground.

Police later stated the document, which forms the bedrock of religious freedom in British history, was not damaged.

Sealed by King John in 1215, only four of the Magna Carta’s 63 clauses have remained part of English law to this day. The very first clause says, “The English Church shall be free, and shall have its rights undiminished, and its liberties unimpaired.”

This was one of the earliest declarations of freedom of religion. The religious freedom agency, Barnabas Fund, this year launched ‘Our Religious Freedom’  campaign to  preserve the religious freedoms prescribed in the Magna Carta.