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Royal Holloway secures Heritage Lottery Fund investment to launch £1m Citizens project

Posted on 11/01/2017
Suffragettes march

Suffragettes marching for the women's vote

Royal Holloway, University of London, has been awarded a grant of £485,500 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for the Citizens project, it was announced today.

Citizens will produce digital resources and support materials, as well as community engagement activities, to take users on journey that will span the period from the sealing of the Magna Carta to the Suffragettes and beyond. The university’s goal is that by exploring the history of liberty, protest and reform, we will understand how this has shaped what it means to be a citizen today, and the responsibilities we carry for the future.

Professor Paul Layzell, Principal of Royal Holloway, University of London, said;

"Royal Holloway was founded by two social reformers whose civic contribution was to enable access to higher education for women at a time when they were largely excluded from it.  Freedom of speech, personal liberty and recognition of the societal responsibilities that comes from education and knowledge are at the heart of university life. The Citizens project confirms Royal Holloway’s commitment to building an educational legacy from last year’s Magna Carta celebrations.

“Given our progressive heritage, we are delighted that the Heritage Lottery Fund is supporting this project and its goal of engaging a younger generation with the history that underpins the rights and democracy we enjoy today. 

“In today’s turbulent world, it’s important that we understand how we got to where we are, so that we know what we stand for, and can stand up for the things that matter to us.”

Dr Matthew Smith, from Royal Holloway, University of London, has developed the project in partnership with Egham Museum and The Magna Carta School. It is supported by the AQA exam board, the Historical Association, the Parliamentary Archives, the People’s History Museum, The History of Parliament Trust, the National Justice Museum and others.

Citizens will involve the development of a number of new resources and forums for learning, discussion and debate, several of which can be used to form part of the GCSE curriculum: 

  • In 2017 an educational website for schools with video resources charting key milestones in the evolution of rights and representation will be launched, complemented by workshops in schools.
  • A new regional network of community researchers and museum partners will be established, casting light on the lesser known stories in the struggle for liberty. 
  • Royal Holloway will host the first in what will be an annual Festival of History at the university in June 2017.
  • Supporting these activities, there will be a new series of Constitutional Conventions, where young people gather to debate and draft clauses for a modern Magna Carta to be exhibited in the Supreme Court.

Explaining the importance of the HLF support, Stuart McLeod, regional manager for HLF South East, said: “Thanks to National Lottery players, this excellent project will see the Magna Carta tradition and legacy brought to life online, in the classroom and in the community, through an exciting programme of activities and events spreading the word of freedom and liberty to ensure it is not forgotten.”

Learn more about History at Royal Holloway, and take our quiz, Which Emily Wilding Davison are you? marking the naming of our new Library and Student Services Centre, named after the famous suffragette and Royal Holloway alumna.

Notes to editors:

  • With Magna Carta sealed just a few minutes from its doorstep, Royal Holloway was a key player in the 800th anniversary celebrations.  The Citizens project is part of the university’s Magna Carta legacy programme, which includes the Leverhulme-supported Magna Carta Doctoral Centre and a ten-year series of Magna Carta public lectures from 2016. This series builds on a decade-long lecture programme delivered in the build up to the anniversary.
  • £485,500 has been received from the HLF, with Royal Holloway match-funding the project.


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