Durham MP calls for Lindisfarne Gospels exhibition to be free

Labour's Roberta Blackman-Woods

Labour's Roberta Blackman-Woods

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CAMPAIGNERS are calling for Government intervention into plans to charge people to view the Lindisfarne Gospels when they go on display in Durham.

People wishing to see the historic documents, which are free to view at the British Library, face paying up to £7.50 to enter the exhibition at Durham City’s Palace Green Library.

The book was created on Holy Island in the 8th century by contemporaries of St Cuthbert, whose remains rest in Durham Cathedral.

Now campaigners, including Durham City MP Roberta Blackman-Woods, have told arts minister Ed Vaizey to scrap the entrance fee.

In a parliamentary debate on the future of the Gospels, secured by Ms Blackman-Woods, the minister was told it was disappointing that funding had not been provided.

Ms Blackman-Woods said: “As the poorest region in the UK, having to pay a charge to see them does not seem entirely fair, but it is fantastic that they have agreed to lend them, regardless.”

Several other North East MPs spoke out during the debate, and Mr Vaizey said more had to be done for regional museums.

He said: “We need to do much more with our national museums to ensure that the regions are not seen as somehow second class, that national museums, wherever they are located, are on an equal footing with those in London, and that the quality and expertise that exist in national museums outside London and our major regional museums are as good as any to be found in London.”

Mr Vaizey added that he was keen to visit the exhibition himself.

The Lindisfarne Gospels go on display in Durham on July 1 until September. For tickets, visit www.ticketmaster.co.uk.