What we are about

The Magna Carta Quilters are a group of quilters living near or having an association with Runnymede in England. The sole purpose of the Magna Carta Quilters is to create a series of eight quilts to celebrate the 800th anniversary of the sealing of the Magna Carta at Runnymede in 1215 A.D. These quilts will be part of the Great Charter Festival art exhibition to be held at Royal Holloway University of London from June 14th to June 16th, 2015, when they will be on display in the Windsor Building foyer. During these four days of the celebrations we expect about 5000 people will attend the festivities and view the quilts, including many dignitaries and delegates from around the world. See Royal Holloway website for more information.

The Magna Carta Quilters are an unincorporated and not-for-profit association of quilters. Other than getting their names embroidered on one of the blocks of the Thames Mosaic none of the quilters are getting paid. Ten percent of any monetary donations received will go immediately to a Human Rights such as Amnesty International, and every penny received over and above the actual cost of producing the quilt will go the same charity.

The Magna Carta Quilts

The Magna Carta Quilts will consist of eight quilts, each measuring 60" x 80". There will be four Medieval Quilts and four Legacy Quilts, which will stand together in a display which will measure 30 feet long x 5 feet wide x 7 feet high. The quilts will be displayed with the Medieval and the Legacy quilts alternating at a 90 degree angle to each other.

A scale model of how the quilts will look is shown below.

Medieval Quilts

The four Medieval Quilts will tell the story of the Magna Carta in a graphic novel style based on 13th century illuminated manuscripts. The panels are being done with a combination of appliqué and embroidery in rich coloured fabrics and threads. The story starts with the death of Richard the Lionheart, which lead to the ascension of his brother John to the throne of England, runs through the events leading up to the sealing of the Magna Carta at Runnymede on June 15th, 1215, then beyond to the ascension of King Henry III, John's son, in 1217. The Magna Carta was the first document ever imposed upon a King of England , King John, by a group of his subjects, the feudal barons, in an attempt to limit his powers by law and protect their rights. The charter is widely known throughout the English speaking world. influencing the early settlers in New England and inspiring later constitutional documents, including the United States Constitution. The borders of the Medieval Quilts are based on 13th century encaustic floor tiles from Winchester Cathedral. There is one tile design for each letter of the alphabet, so the borders will spell out the message of the "Golden" Clause in the Magna Carta, which is the one that talks about Human Rights.

Model showing Medieval Quilts and detail of an encaustic tile border block.

Legacy Quilts

The four Legacy Quilts in the series will show four oak trees appliquéd onto a background of hexagons. The hexagons represent traditional English patchwork as well as paying homage to the fact that the meadow of Runnymede was cultivated for bee keeping since Neolithic times, around 3000 BC. At the base of each oak tree will be the shields of the 25 feudal barons who drew up the terms of the Magna Carta, and the leaves of the oak tree will depict images and quotes from some of the key figures in the field of Human Rights, such as Abraham Lincoln, Carrie Nation, and Mother Teresa , to name but a few of the 70+ images we will use. These images will be rendered in machine embroidery.

Model showing Legacy Quilts and detail of a thread painted portrait of Mother Teresa for one of the oak leaves.

Thames Mosaics

The back side of the quilts is the Thames Mosaic, which shows a pixilated outline of the stretch of the River Thames between Windsor and Staines, which is where the meadow of Runnymede is located (indicated by the orange rectangle). The 5" x 4" blocks in the mosaic will bear the embroidered names of individuals and companies which have helped sponsor the making of the quilts, either by donating time, materials, or money

Model of the Thames Mosaic on the back side of the quilt display.