Magna Carta 800th anniversary celebrations

Runnymede, where King John sealed Magna Carta. Credit: Peter Lane/Alamy
Runnymede, where King John sealed Magna Carta. Credit: Peter Lane/Alamy

This weekend there will be a host of events at places linked to the Magna Carta story ahead of the official 800th anniversary event at Runnymede on Monday.

Runnymede. Credit: Peter Lane/Alamy
Magna Carta was sealed at Runnymede. Credit: Peter Lane/Alamy

It was 800 years ago this month that King John, one of England’s most ruthless monarchs, was coerced into sealing Magna Carta in the ancient ‘meeting meadow’ at Runnymede on the Thames.

Forced upon King John by rebel barons in 1215, Magna Carta has been hailed as the greatest constitutional document of all time and a keystone of English liberty, law and democracy. Its principles have served as an inspiration for democratic institutions around the world and it has become a global symbol of human rights and freedom from oppression. This, despite the fact that the charter was never intended to be some lofty declaration of enduring legal principle. It was simply thrashed out as a practical solution to squabbles between a greedy king and the disgruntled barons who stood just below him in the pecking order of medieval society. It was a charter that primarily served the vested interests of the higher ranks of feudal life.

On Monday 15 June 2015 this significant moment will be celebrated during The official ceremony: Magna Carta Foundation of Liberty event at Runnymede.

BRITAIN magazine will be there and will be TWEETING LIVE from the event.

Join in the Magna Carta celebrations

Many Historic Houses Association properties are linked to the 25 barons who forced King John to seal Magna Carta at Runnymede and will be hosting events this weekend and beyond.

To commemorate the close involvement of Robert de Vere, former Lord of Hedingham Castle, with the rebel barons, there will be a spectacular day full of history, rebellion and battles at Hedingham Castle on Sunday 14 June, while on Thursday 25 June Broughton Castle will tell the story of the current owner’s ancestor Geoffrey de Say and his involvement in the coercing of King John to seal the document 800 years ago.

Tiverton Castle
Tiverton Castle

On Sunday 14 June Tiverton Castle is running a guided tour of the house, drawing on the family connection of a previous owner with William de Forz, one of the 25 Magna Carta barons. At Holkam Hall an exhibition on the role of Sir Edward Coke, an ancestor of the current owners and one of England’s foremost jurists will run from 14 June to 29 October. As part of the nationwide LiberTeas event at 3pm on 14 June in which Britons are being urged to sit down with a cuppa and reflect on their civil liberties, a supply of black China tea, blended to reproduce the flavour of the tea found in tea chests on East India Company ships in Boston Harbour, will be on offer to visitors.

Finally, at Woburn Abbey a special Liberty trail will focus on the contributions of the Russell family. There are also guided tours on 14 June at 11am, 1pm and 2pm, followed by a LiberTea in the Duchess’ Tea Room.

Our full feature on Magna Carta ran in the Sept/Oct issue of BRITAIN magazine

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