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A necklace fit for a Queen and 800 young voices raised in rebellion!

Posted By : Marie Thomas Wednesday 15th July 2015

Queen Isabella’s performance in the Magna Cantata musical at Salisbury Cathedral last week received a last minute embellishment in the form of a loaned necklace!

The necklace, made by jewellery designer Briony Eastman and worn by Emilia Williams, who played Queen Isabella, depicts King John sealing the Magna Carta scroll in the presence of a baron in a tent, their horses tethered either side.  Made of 18ct gold and silver set with precious and semiprecious gems, the necklace’s hallmark bears the Queen’s Jubilee mark.

The swans - a royal bird - and the fish below, represent the waters of the Thames at Runnymede where the King and barons met. The King’s and baron’s gowns blend into the wings of a dove portraying peace. Hung from its beak is a centrepiece bearing an English rose, the national flower, and a wheat ear symbolising prosperity.

Said Briony Eastman, who has her own studio in West London:

“It was inspired in 2008 at a time when the government was thinking of imprisoning people without charge for up to 42 days - and this reminded me of the principles as stated in the Magna Carta clauses 39 and 40.”

The Cathedral were keen to showcase the treasure, particularly as it was the 800th Anniversary year, and Magna Cantata presented an ideal opportunity.

Said Seif El Rashidi, Magna Carta Programme manager:

“The necklace is very beautiful, a unique work of art, and we wanted to find a way to share it. The idea of Queen Isabella wearing it worked perfectly – it could be seen and it fitted the spirit of the occasion perfectly.”

The Magna Cantata musical was a huge success, featuring hundreds of school children from across the region. King John was played powerfully by Simon McEnery, a Wiltshire based singer, composer and music teacher with actress and singer, Emilia Williams putting in a charming performance as his Queen. Actor Christopher Robert, who has recently appeared on ITV’s Emmerdale, narrated whilst young local actors took other parts.

Said Sarah Rickett, Director of Outreach and Learning at the Cathedral:

“All four performances were fantastic and the children sang their hearts out! We are very grateful to all the schools, who engaged so wholeheartedly and made it such a success. This sort of community involvement is exactly what Magna Carta 800 is all about and we are incredibly proud of what everyone achieved and of the hard work put in to produce such excellent and thought provoking entertainment.

Magna Cantata is just one of a range of outreach projects we have undertaken this year and we have been overwhelmed by the positive response to everything from the Erlestoke Prison project to the participative workshops.”

Magna Cantata was directed by Ben Occhipinti and written by Andrew Mackay (words) and Philip Lawson (music). Ian Wicks, Director of Music at Salisbury Cathedral School, conducted the performances. The four performances from 7-10 July were made possible thanks to a generous grant from the Magna Carta Trust’s 800th Anniversary Commemoration Committee

Further images of the Magna Carta necklace available in the gallery