A Charter, in the context of British history, refers to a grant by the Sovereign or State, granting legal entity to a town, church, school, guild, incorporated body, or other organisation, and setting out the conditions under which it was to exist. In effect it was a transfer of rights from a ruler to certain of his subjects, for certain reasons, and setting out certain conditions.
The earliest charters recorded in Britain were grants made to the Church by Aethelbert, king of Kent, in the 7th century. The Magna Carta was a charter, as were the agreements setting out the conditions for various British colonies in America. In recent times charters have been granted mainly to educational bodies.