26 May Magna Carta celebrations to be held on the historic meadows of Runnymede
It is hard to picture England in 1215. Knights in armour, poverty, castles and mud dwellings all spring to mind but one spot that has remained relatively unchanged over the centuries is ‘the meadow which is called Runnymede, between Windsor and Staines.’ These words are lifted straight from the infamous charter – the Magna Carta.
Runnymede came close to having major development undertaken in 1929 but thankfully the application was denied and the meadows remain intact for all to enjoy today. Now the property of The National Trust, it is in safe hands and will remain as such ad infinitum.
Monday 15th June marks the 800th year since the signing of the Magna Carta at Runnymede with an official ceremony and some 4,500 guests attending. Tickets for the event sold out a long time ago as local resident James Wyatt, owner of prime Surrey estate agency Barton Wyatt, comments,
“It was extraordinary, these tickets sold like hotcakes. Before we had a chance to consider purchasing a number the Americans had got in there and bought the lot! Half the tickets have gone to our friends over the Pond!”
The official celebrations will also be shown on big screens a short distance away, so those keen to be a part of this extraordinary historical event can still participate.
The afternoon of 15 June will be an informal family picnic affair, which many members of the local community attending. Boat rides will be running after 2pm across the river to Ankerwycke, just as the emissaries from the Royal Camp attacked back and forth to the Barons Camp 800 years ago. Here visitors will be able to visit contemporary British artist Hew Locke’s new Magna Carta Memorial.
On the weekend leading up to this important event a grand Pageant is being organised on the River Thames. This fabulous flotilla of boats is to be led by Gloriana, the Queen’s Row Barge. The boats will assemble on the River Thames and make its way from near the Thameside village of Hurley to Runnymede. This stretch of the River Thames provides plenty of viewing opportunities for the pageant, including Boveney Lock, Eton Dorney, Windsor Bridge and Windsor Great Park.
Many will also be keen to get a glimpse of a new statue of HRH Queen Elizabeth II which is being erected to mark the significance of this event. The 4m bronze sculpture will be situated beside the River Thames at Runnymede and shows the Queen dressed in full ceremonial attire of the Order of the Garter. The unveiling of the statue will coincide with a wonderful Thames River Pageant.
“I feel sure this is why so many international guests are coming to the ceremony. We Brits seriously know how to put on a show and I imagine that this will be one that King John would have been very impressed with!”
The Magna Carta and its significance has been cited by world leaders such as Gandhi and Nelson Mandela. It is one of the safeguards of freedom and is as important today as it was in 1215. It formed the modern-day legal system and has extremely powerful chapters on preventing imprisonment without trial and guaranteeing justice.
For residents of Surrey it is a time to reflect on the importance of the area in which they live. James Wyatt considers:
“It is very easy in our busy lives to forget our history and live just for today. I feel incredibly privileged to live and work in an area that is immersed in so much history, whether I’m driving to the ancient village of Thorpe which features in the Domesday Book, or walking with my children through Windsor Great Park, which was once part of a vast Norman hunting forest, or indeed meeting a client for lunch in Great Fosters, one of Henry VIII’s lodges, we are surrounded by history.
“Many of our clients are from overseas and are attracted to North Surrey because of its superb transport links, choice of international schools and the fact there is already an enclave of other overseas residents living in harmony. They don’t come here for history and the Magna Carta but boy are they blown away when they realise where they have actually moved to!”
For more details on property in the historic Runnymede area contact Barton Wyatt on 01344 843 000 or visit www.bartonwyatt.co.uk