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The Salisbury Connection

Detail of Magna Carta back showing date

At Runnymede King John was urged to accept the demands of the barons and agree Magna Carta by his half-brother, William Longspeé, whose effigy is in Salisbury Cathedral. Also present at Runnymede was Elias of Dereham, who at the time was steward to one of the key players in the crisis, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Stephen Langton.

Elias himself was a skilled negotiator and was at the very centre of the discussions between the king and the barons. Once Magna Carta was agreed and sealed he was entrusted with delivering ten of the thirteen copies made, one of which was given to the original cathedral at Old Sarum. Elias later became a canon of Old Sarum before masterminding the building of the present Salisbury Cathedral.

Poet Sean Street imagines the reflections of Elias de Dereham as he looks back on his incredible legacy here: