71 Celebration of 800th Anniversary of the Sealing of the City Charter

Thursday 14th May 2015

John became King in 1199 but by 1215 faced major rebellion. Hoping to win Londoners to his side, he granted them a charter with the right to choose a mayor annually, who should be faithful, discreet and fit forthe government of the City. The grant requires the mayor to be presented to the Sovereign for approval and to take an oath to be faithful. It was signed in the Temple Church on 9 May 1215. These provisions have been respected ever since and still govern the annual election and swearing in of the Lord Mayor. The charter carries a fine impression of King John's Great Seal.

Just a few weeks after granting the City Charter, noblemen forced John to agree a new statement of the rights of his subjects and the limits of royal authoity, This new Great Charter - the Magna Carta - was a major step in defining individual freedom and the rule of law. It was agreed and signed by John at Runnymede in June 1215.

It was extremely appropriate that the Treasurers of the Honorable Societies of the Inner and Middle Temple and the Lord Mayor held a special service of Choral Evensong on Ascension Day at the Temple Church. It was led by the Master of the Temple (who is also Chaplain to the Lord Mayor) with a sermon from the Bishop of London, both of whose predecessors were present at Runnymede in 1215. Following the service, a reception was held in Middle Temple.

The Charter was guerst of honour at both events. It had only left Guildhall on two previous occasions since 1215: to a safe house near Liverpool Street during the Great Fire of 1666 and to a Welsh mine during the Blitz in 1940.