ONE OF the country’s leading experts on Anglo-Saxon England will speak at Winchester College about two royal charters of critical importance to the story of New Minster (later Hyde Abbey).

The talk is part of this month’s Heritage Open Days.

Prof Simon Keynes, the Elrington and Bosworth Professor of Anglo-Saxon at Cambridge University and a Fellow of Trinity College will be discussing the spectacular ‘Golden Charter’, now in the British Library, which was given by King Edgar in 966 to New Minster, the church of King Alfred’s burial.

The charter effectively reconstituted the minster as a Benedictine monastery and bestowed on it royal protection at a time of religious reform. The opening pages include an astonishing picture of King Edgar himself presenting the charter to Christ and it was this powerful illustration which became the principal image for the ‘Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms- Art, Word War’ exhibition at the British Library earlier this year.

Also under discussion will be the Drayton Charter, now held by Winchester College, to mark the 1,000th year since it was given by King Cnut in 1019 to New Minster to confirm an important land-holding to the north of Winchester. Subsequently the relationship between Cnut and New Minster became very significant as the king identified himself, probably for political reasons, with his Anglo-Saxon predecessors and the Alfredian dynasty in particular. This culminated in the king giving the famous ‘Gold Cross’ to the monastery as recorded in another important manuscript, the Liber Vitae.

“This is a unique chance for people in Winchester to hear an outstanding scholar in Prof Keynes speak about two important charters which link together powerful kings from the Anglo-Saxon era with one of the city’s most significant ecclesiastical establishments,” said Edward Fennell of Hyde Arts & Heritage who invited Prof Keynes to take part in the Heritage Open Days. “For anyone interested in the city’s Anglo-Saxon heritage this is a ‘must’.”

Prof Keynes will be speaking on 'A Tale of Two Royal Charters' at Winchester College, New Hall 3-4pm on Saturday September 21.

Advance booking needed via