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Bed, breakfast and the Magna Carta by Maggie O'Sullivan

Posted in HOTELS + VILLAS By Maggie O' Sullivan

Fancy combining a weekend away with a spot of English history? Sunday is the 800th anniversary of the signing of the Magna Carta at Runnymede. There is a superb Magna Carta exhibition at the British Library, and all over the country there are Magna Carta trails, Magna Carta Festivals, even Magna Carta afternoon teas. Here’s where we’ll be heading for our slice of English history this summer.

Salisbury Cathedral & The Pig Hotel

Salisbury Cathedral is on the official Magna Carta 800 trail and has one of the four surviving copies of the original 1215 charter. It’s displayed in the 13th-century Chapter House where there is a new interactive exhibition, including a re-representation of the Magna Carta itself. Stay at our favourite shabby-chic ‘restaurant with rooms’ The Pig (above), around 45 minutes’ drive from Salisbury. From £169 per night at weekends.Lincoln Castle & The Old Rectory at Stewton 

The city’s original copy of the Magna Carta – sealed by King John with the instructions to deliver to ‘Lincolnia – has recently moved to a dazzling new underground vault at Lincoln Castle. As well as the document, there’s a 210-degree cinema screen with a film about the charter. Stay at The Old Rectory at Stewton, a gorgeous b&b in a picturesque hamlet, around an hour’s drive from Lincoln. Double room from £80 per night.Durham & Seaham Hall

Durham Cathedral is another of the four cathedrals on the official Magna Carta 800 trail, with three copies of the Magna Carta dating from 1216, 1225 and 1300. The earliest copy is currently part of an exhibition at Durham University’s Palace Green Library. Stay at Seaham Hall, overlooking Durham’s heritage coast, which has a special Magna Carta package that includes a one-night stay in a Junior Suite, daily breakfast and full use of the extensive spa facilities, from £185.Runnymede & Coworth Park

If you’d rather be outdoors, head for Runnymede, near Windsor, where the charter was signed. The Thames water-meadow now belongs to the National Trust and is free to visit. View the monument and its symbolic oak trees, then have a picnic in the very place modern democracy was born. Stay at the glamorous Coworth Park, The Dorchester’s country cousin in nearby Ascot. From around £355 per night.King’s Lynn & Congham Hall

In 1204 King John rewarded King’s Lynn for its loyalty with its own Magna Carta which transformed it into one of the most powerful ports in England. King’s Lynn is hosting a two-day Magna Carta festival this weekend with everything from a knights’ tournament to falconry displays. Stay at Congham Hall, just outside King’s Lynn. The 18th-century house was built by a wealthy King’s Lynn merchant, who might not have been quite so wealthy had it not been for King John’s charter. From £199 per night for dinner, bed and breakfast. 

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