Handkerchief depicting the signing of Magna Carta


This handkerchief, made towards the end of the 18th century and measuring a vast 690 × 760 mm (27 × 30 in.), reputedly contains the oldest surviving depiction of the site of Runnymede. It shows King John in the foreground, sitting at a table with a quill in his hand, signing Magna Carta – in fact, the charter was sealed and not signed. He is flanked by the Archbishop of Canterbury and several barons, together with soldiers bearing pikes and other weapons. The geographical accuracy of the image is open to question, but it pre-dates other depictions of Runnymede by several decades. Around the edges of the handkerchief is a legend stating, ‘MAGNA CHARTA or the great CHARTER of the PEOPLE of / ENGLANDS LIBERTYS Sign’d by IOHN KING of ENGLAND / on June the 5th 1215 [sic] in RUNNEMEDE between STAINES & / WINDSOR in the PRESENCE of the chief of the NOBILITY.’

Full title:
Handkerchief depicting the signing of Magna Carta
1785 - 1800
Charles Warren
© Victoria and Albert Museum
Held by
Victoria and Albert Museum

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