Ambitous plans revealed to celebrate 800 years of Magna Carta
From the Slough Observer:
Ambitious plans are afoot to celebrate one of the most momentous events in the country’s history. The Magna Carta, one of the earliest and most important documents in British politics, was sealed at Runnymede on June 15, 1215.
At the time, Runnymede was in the parish of Wraysbury, which was far larger than it is today, and the village’s parish council hope to spearhead efforts commemorating 800 years since the document was finalised.
Councillors John and Margaret Lenton, of Wraysbury Parish Council, outlined a series of proposals to the Royal Borough’s visitor management forum at a meeting on Tuesday at The Guildhall, in High Street, Windsor, which include running bus and boat services between Windsor and Runnymede and decorating Windsor town centre.
Cllr John Lenton said:
“I’d like to see us in Windsor as a reception centre for people wishing to get to Runnymede. We have the rail, road and air services, and we have other facilities, but we do need to try and work out how to do it. It should generate a lot of hotel and restaurant revenue in Windsor.”
Plans for Wraysbury Parish Council’s activities are already under way, which include holding an archery contest on the village green and closing Wraysbury for a special parade through the village.
Cllr Margaret Lenton also hopes to organise special events at schools across the Royal Borough, and has been working with Churchmead CofE School, in Priory Way, Datchet, Windsor Girls School and Wraysbury Primary School.
The celebrations are expected to attract tourists from Australia, New Zealand, Canada and America, where Magna Carta is incorporated into the Declaration of Independence.
Cllr Margaret Lenton said:
“Hardly a week goes by when Americans don’t mention Magna Carta. Every school child in America learns about Magna Carta. It’s now in our national curriculum for primary schools, which shows its importance. I want the children to know its legacy and how important this is.”
Magna Carta is otherwise known as The Great Charter of the Liberties of England, and was imposed on King John by a group of barons to limit the king’s powers.
Only three of the original clauses in Magna Carta are still law. One defends the freedom and rights of the English church, another confirms the liberties and customs of London and other towns, but the third is the most famous:
No free man shall be seized or imprisoned, or stripped of his rights or possessions, or outlawed or exiled . nor will we proceed with force against him . except by the lawful judgement of his equals or by the law of the land. To no one will we sell, to no one deny or delay right or justice.
This statement of principle, buried deep in Magna Carta, was given no particular prominence in 1215, but its intrinsic adaptability has allowed succeeding generations to reinterpret it for their own purposes and this has ensured its longevity. In the fourteenth century Parliament saw it as guaranteeing trial by jury. Sir Edward Coke interpreted it as a declaration of individual liberty in his conflict with the early Stuart kings and it has resonant echoes in the American Bill of Rights and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Lord Denning, one of the most prominent judges and lawyers of the 20th century, described it as ‘the greatest constitutional document of all times’.
King John is reputed to have stayed overnight at The Ostrich in Colnbrook en route to nearby Runnymede where he would sign the Magna Carta. King John’s Palace is also said to have historical connections to the signing.