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800th Anniversary of the Magna Carta

The document Magna Carta Liberatum (known as Magna Carta) meaning ‘Great Charter of Liberties is seen as the foundation stone of freedom for both the UK and the US.  2015 will celebrate 800 years of the signing of the Magna Carta by King John on 15th June 1215 on Runnymede Meadows.

Today Runnymede seems to be little different from the landscape 800 years ago.  The meadows and historic wooded parkland remain a peaceful place and The Magna Carta Memorial, sat on a gentle slope overlooking the Thames, is maintained by the National Trust. It was designed by Sir Edward Maufe and erected in 1957 by the American Bar Association.

15th June 2015

The 800th anniversary of the sealing of the Magna Carta will be marked with a new public artwork produced by contemporary British artist Hew Locke and commissioned by the National Trust and Surrey County Council.

There will be an international gathering at Runnymede where Hew Locke’s artwork will be unveiled and will be a highlight of the commemorations for this historic occasion.

Magna Carta River Pageant - 13-14 June
The weekend of 13-14 June will begin the events for the 800th anniversary with a River Thames Pageant - a flotilla of boats led by Gloriana, the Queens’ Row Barge will travel from Cookham to Runnymede.

The start is at Hurley and the flotilla of traditional rowing craft will stop at locations for the story of how/why the document was created to be told. This will all culminate in a Parade of Boating through 800 Years at Runnymede during the 14th with a finale of The Queen's Row Barge 'Gloriana' arriving with King John on board to re enact the sealing of the Magna Carta. 

Magna Carta (an Embroidery) Commissioned by Oxford University’s Ruskin School of Art, British artist Cornelia Parker will produce a major artwork to commemorate the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta. At almost 13 metres long, Magna Carta (An Embroidery) will replicate in stitch the entire Wikipedia article on Magna Carta as it appeared on the 799th anniversary on 15 June 2014.

Saturday 20 June 2.30pm - 3.30pm: Surrey Heritage Annual Lecture - 1215 And All That - Dr Nick Barratt

The History of the Magna Carta

800 years ago in June, King John, having lost lands in France, was forced by his English Barons to limit the power of the monarch. The original document, containing 3,500 words in Latin on a calfskin parchment is seen as possibly the world’s most important document. Its principles have been used to develop the US Declaration of Independence in 1755 and in 1947 the principles of Magna Carta were enshrined within the constitution of the world’s largest democracy, India.

The connection between Magna Carta and the Declaration of Independence was used by Winston S. Churchill, who said:’The Declaration of Independence is not only an American document. It follows on Magna Carta and the Bill of Rights [the British one, signed by William III in 1689] as the third great title deed in which the liberties of the English-speaking people are founded.’

800 years later, those simple principles of Freedom and Justice have their legacy in the laws of today. Runnymede is home to the John F Kennedy Memorial due to the signing of the Magna Carta and its links to the American constitution.

Make your visit one to remember

Take a guided walking tour with a professional blue badge guide.  They will be offering guided tours of Runnymede including the site where the Magna Carta was sealed, The American Bar Association, Magna Carta Memorial, JF Kennedy Memorial and The Commonwealth Air Forces Memorial to the 20,000 airmen from the Second World War with no known graves.

Alternatively take to the River Thames with French Brothers Boats and discover one of the most historical stretches of this famous river as it widens and grows in strength towards Runnymede. Groups can now book a Magna Carta themed tour.

One hour from London, Runnymede is perfect for a taste of history, river boat ride, picnic or countryside walk. Whilst in the area a visit to the Windsor & Royal Borough Museum is a must if you want to learn more about the development of Windsor.  Located in the famous Windsor Guildhall, in the heart of the town, this wonderful little museum will host a series of Magna Carta events, activities and exhibitions.

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