The first stage of Mike Roberts’ artist residency features a sound installation of birdsong in the Magna Carta tearoom, recorded at Runnymede during the first national lockdown in the spring of 2020. Visitors are invited to relax and reflect on the freedom of birdsong and are invited to respond by adding a written ‘leaf message’ to the freeSong tree mural in the tearoom or record a voice message to be used in the next stage of the project - an audio trail of sonic bird boxes at Runnymede.
Runnymede Explored project: supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund
It is 804 years since feudal barons forced King John to seal Magna Carta at Runnymede, on the banks of the Thames, near Windsor. To this day, Magna Carta remains one of the most important documents in global history. Now, thanks to money raised by National Lottery players, the project can move ahead with plans to help visitors discover more about this special place and enjoy it for recreation, learning and volunteering.
Our plans at Runnymede
Having received funding of £1.6 million from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, the project plans to unify two sites of international significance, Runnymede and adjacent Ankerwycke, with improved pathways and interpretation, and a new ferry crossing across the River Thames. The project will enable visitors to travel more easily between the two sites and get a better understanding of their combined importance: Runnymede’s significance as the site of the sealing of Magna Carta, and Ankerwycke, home to Benedictine priory ruins and the Ankerwycke yew, the National Trust’s oldest tree at 2,500 years old.
Plans also include new trails and an upgraded tow path along the River Thames to encourage access to the public artworks at the site: The Jurors, created by Hew Locke and Writ in Water created by Mark Wallinger, the monuments and memorials at Runnymede and to new interpretation around the themes of liberty, people and commemoration.
" There are few places in the UK that rival Runnymede in terms of its profound influence on our national heritage. Thanks to funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, these thoughtful and sensitive improvements will enhance this special place for everyone to enjoy."
The project will establish new opportunities for volunteering and for schools and local communities to get involved, along with a range of activities including an archaeology project. There are wider plans to work collaboratively with stakeholders including Surrey County Council and Runnymede Borough Council, the Colne Valley Regional Park Authority, and local community groups to deliver a profound change in how people experience Runnymede.
05 Dec 20
freeSong art installation opens
01 Dec 20
Launch of freeSong virtual exhibition
The virtual version of freeSong enables more people to access Mike Roberts’ recordings of Runnymede birdsong via the installation’s website. Visitors can also record a message and contribute to the tree mural online.
01 Oct 20
Runnymede Voices commences
Runnymede Voices is a 12-strong panel from the local community the project team have been working with to develop a brief for the new interpretation plan at Runnymede and Ankerwycke. The focus for the group is on the landscape history of the site, covering both sides of the River Thames and discussing how we can best share the area’s rich past.