800 Years of Trees and People – British Library Event

From the Charter of the Forest to the Tree Charter – an 800 year journey

Join a panel of literary and legal minds to learn about the 1217 Charter of the Forest, and the 800 year journey that has brought us to the launch of a new Tree Charter that will redefine the relationship between people and trees in modern society. In the 13th century, the charter restored the rights of the ordinary person to make use of woodlands. What was its impact, and how have trees and forests – both the reality, and the idea of them – been used in art and culture? This panel discussion features legal expert Jeff Twentyman, Oxford professor of English, Author and Tree Charter Champion Fiona Stafford, and David Carpenter, leading historian on Britain in the central middle ages, and is book-ended by short poetry readings from new anthology The Tree Line from poet Peter Carpenter.


Peter Fiennes (Chair) is an author whose most recent book – Oak, Ash and Thorn: The Ancient Woods and New Forests of Britain (OneWorld Publications 2017) – is a beautiful celebration of Britain’s woods and forests and a rousing call to fight for them.


Fiona Stafford is a professor of English language and literature at the University of Oxford. She is author and presenter of the series The Meaning of Trees for BBC Radio, and author of the bestselling The Long Long Life of Trees (Yale Books 2017).



Jeff Twentyman is a Senior Partner at Law Firm Slaughter & May, and Chair of the Legal Sustainability Alliance, a network of law firms and organisations working collaboratively to improve the environmental sustainability of their operations and activities.



David Carpenter is a leading authority on the history of Britain in the central middle ages. Prior to joining King’s College London in 1988, David held lectureships at Christ Church, Oxford, St Hilda’s College Oxford, the University of Aberdeen, and Queen Mary College, University of London. David is on the committee of the Pipe Roll Society. He was Principal Investigator of the AHRC funded ‘Henry III Fine Rolls Project’ (2005-2011) and a Co-investigator on the ‘Paradox of Medieval Scotland Project’. He is currently a Co-investigator on two further AHRC funded projects, ‘The Breaking of Britain Project’ about Scottish political culture before the Wars of Independence and the ‘Magna Carta Project’.

Peter Carpenter is a poet, editor, essayist and reviewer. He has co-directed Worple Press since 1997 and has taught creative writing for the Arvon Foundation and the University of Warwick. Work has been published and favourably reviewed in many journals including the TLS, the Independent and Poetry Review. His most recent collection is ‘Peace Camp’ (2015; Maquette Press

Enjoy food and drink purchased from the Knowledge Centre Bar from 18.00 and after the event until the Bar closes at 22.00.

A British Library event in partnership with the Legal Sustainability Alliance and the Woodland Trust

For more information, visit https://www.bl.uk/events/trees-800-years-later