Monday, 3 August 2015


Thursday 30th July

Chris, Monty and I went off on Wednesday evening for a much needed walk – we headed east along the river and came across a very large park where we found this newly erected bronze of Her Majesty the Queen 

The park is large with what could be marvellous moorings – if only the council would allow it.  As most places round here charge they could boost their coffers!

Thursday was to be a day off for us all and an outing was planned.  First stop was the tea rooms at the Magna Carta site where we purchased sandwiches and sausage rolls to sustain us on our walk, or maybe it should be called a 'pilgrimage'?  

The next stop was to ‘The Jurors’ - An artwork by Hew Locke commissioned by Surrey County Council and the National Trust to mark the 800th anniversary of the sealing of the Magna Carta in 1215.

They are twelve intricately worked bronze chairs that stand together on this ancient meadow. Each chair incorporates symbols and imagery representing concepts of law and key moments in the struggle for freedom, rule of law and equal rights. The Jurors is not a memorial, but rather an artwork that aims to examine the changing and ongoing significance and influences of Magna Carta. Twelve intricately worked bronze chairs stand together on this ancient meadow. Each chair incorporates symbols and imagery representing concepts of law and key moments in the struggle for freedom, rule of law and equal rights. The Jurors is not a memorial, but rather an artwork that aims to examine the changing and ongoing significance and influences of Magna Carta.

The above is a short extract from this site.  If you want to know more please go and take a look, but I would urge you if you live fairly close, or are passing this way to go and visit for yourselves.  On Thursday it was busy. It was lovely to see so many people looking, sitting, chatting and touching.  The chairs are very tactile and beautifully made.  Each one tells a story on the front and back.  There are flowers, keys and stoats (ermine) around the edge of the seats and on the legs – they all have a meaning that is pertinent to the tenets of the Magna Carta.  Boatwif and I went back on Friday early in the morning – we both appreciated being the only ones there and we were able to enjoy the magnificence of this artwork in peace and quiet.  There are a few photos below, but I am not going to inflict all 24 (fronts and backs) on you!  You can get all the information on all the stories on the above site.  

I have chosen one front and one back which I felt were pertinent to our trip;

I chose this one in tribute to guide dog Oakley and his mistress Tracey from nb Sola Gratia.
In 1920, marches of blind trade unionists from across the UK converged on Trafalgar Square under the banner 'Justice not Charity' in support of the Blind Persons Act, which became law later that year and established disability rights as a fundamental principle in British society.

And this as we had recently passed through Reading.
Oscar Wilde's poem The Ballad of Reading Gaol describes the brutalising effect of the prison system, published in 1898 whilst in exile in France and based on his observations when incarcerated for homosexual offences in 1895.

Then onto the JFK Memorial and a short journey onto American soil.  There is a pathway of 60,000 individual axe-hewn Portuguese granite setts, which rise sharply through the surrounding woodland.  There are 50 steps (I am almost a compulsive ‘counter’ when faced by a flight of steps/stairs be they up or down – I just wish I had read the information board before climbing (there were people crowded round) it would have saved me counting!) which represent the 50 US states.

The centrepiece of the memorial is a seven ton block of Portland Stone carved from a 14 ton block of Roach Bed Stone.  Shell markings within the block suggest the stone is 100 million years old.  

The  Seats of Contemplation which are deliberately detached from the threshold steps, giving the impression of leading into the future like Jacob’s Ladder.  The steps lead to two seats that are larger than normal.  The second seat is slightly smaller than the first and is turned slightly inwards.  The seats symbolise the King-Queen relationship.  Equally they could be seen to represent the President-Consort relationship.

Finally at this level there is the Memorial to the Magna Carta – something I am sure you are all aware of, so need no more information.  This was our first visit to Runnymede and it was of particular interest to us as in 1976 to mark the Bicentennial of the American Declaration of Independence the Lincoln Cathedral copy of the Magna Carta was sent to the United States to be displayed in various cities finishing up in San Francisco.  The problem was how to transport something that is priceless?  The solution was to send it out and back in a Vulcan Bomber from RAF Waddington.  Chris was one of the crew who brought it home. At one of the staging posts on the way back Chris had to sleep in a hangar underneath the aircraft with armed guards on the doors.  Thankfully the document had a trouble free journey both ways across the North Atlantic"Pond".

From here we started the climb up to the Air Force Memorial to airmen and women from all over the world who died in WWII. 

 It was a fabulous walk much enjoyed by the four of us and Monty – seventh heaven for him!  .  

We did wonder about this rather tatty sign, but did not divert to find out what it was.  Did they mean to spell 'Runniemead' that way one wonders?

 Once up there we made our base at a convenient bench and took it in turns to eat lunch whilst dog sitting and then visiting the memorial.  

It is hard to find the words to describe how evocative and poignant the memorial is.  

There are 292 columns of names - most have around 80 names.

It was the individual tributes from poppies by a loved one's name

To requests for people related to one of the names to get in touch

a letter from a daughter to the father she never knew

and a letter to 'Jill' from a Squadron Leader who was subsequently killed that I found the most moving.

The view from the top over London is magnificent.

With a good zoom you can just see nb Tentatrice - nb Cleddau is behind the trees!

Planes can be seen sitting on the runway at Heathrow

And it is fitting in many ways that so many planes fly over this memorial every day.


  1. Your Runnymede Eco Village is explained here..

  2. Very moving post Jennie. Yes, I am weeks behind and playing catchup now that life, work, and Les have all calmed down!! :)

    Les says he loved the story about Chris guarding the Magna Carta. It should make a great tale to tell the grandkids: "Grand Dad guarded one of this country's most priceless possessions!" Excellent pictures as well.

  3. It is certainly something that I am sure will stay in the family history - Chris has an etched glass to commemorate the event.