Runnymede Explored

Project
Visitors at Writ in Water, Runnymede

It is over 800 years since feudal barons forced King John to seal Magna Carta at Runnymede, on the banks of the Thames, near Windsor.

This “Great Charter” established the principle that everyone is subject to the law, even the King. It also guaranteed the rights of individuals, including the right to justice and the right to a fair trial. To this day, Magna Carta remains one of the most important and influential documents in global history.

Now, thanks to funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, a 5-year project called Runnymede Explored, will be transforming visits to this historic place.

Improving

Fully accessible paths and trails will link Runnymede’s memorials and artworks. Existing paths will be upgraded with wayfinding and signage improved to help with orientation.

Inspiring

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."

- Ros Kerslake, Chief Executive of the Heritage Lottery Fund

A new outdoor area will be created for picnics, event and community activities and there will be clear information around both sites to help with understanding of the history and significance of this place.

Engaging

A programme of specially designed activities and events invite local community groups to become involved with the history and landscape of both sites, and a wider range of volunteering opportunities are being developed to attract people of all ages and backgrounds

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.

Landscape and Remembering webinars

Hosted by Cultural Heritage Curator Rowena Wilard-Wright

In November, the Project team held a series of webinars exploring the idea of 'Landscape and Remembering' and how that relates to Runnymede.

Each webinar brings together experts to discuss how landscapes shape our personal memories and experience of history. You can watch them by clicking the links below, which will be added as they become available.

Landscape as living memorials

Landscape and sacred memory

Landscape and conflict

Landscape and freedom

Artist Residency 2021

Willow Twisters, a duo specialising in willow sculptures, have been appointed as Artists in Residence for 2021. The residency will form partnerships with local community groups and provide regular opportunities for engagement, culminating in a final outdoor sculptural instalation located at Runnymede. 

 Shaping a willow sculpture

During October 2021, Willow Twisters worked with approximately 60 people from local families and diverse community groups to develop and build 'Haymaking' - an immersive interpretation experience. The larger-than-life scene comprises 19 separate pieces of sculpture made from willow and includes picnickers, field workers, gleaners, a haystack and even a full-sized horse. 

Now located in the Jurors meadow, the substantial installation is big enough to be seen by passers-by from the road, but it is hoped that it will be interacted with by walkers and visitors to the site as they stroll through the meadow, particularly throughout the changing seasons as the meadow grows around them. The haystack in particular has been built so that children can crawl inside it and immerse themselves in the installation, also serving as a pilot for Runnymede Explored’s future plans for family interpretation.

Community Engagement

The project is establishing new opportunities for volunteering and for schools and local communities to get involved, along with a range of activities including an archaeology project. We are working collaboratively with local residents, community organisations and stakeholders to ensure there is a profound change in how people experience Runnymede and these special places are looked after forever.

Latest updates

18 Nov 21

'Landscape and Remembering' webinars

A series of weekly webinars, bringing together experts to discuss how landscapes shape our personal memories and experience of history.

04 Nov 21

'Haymaking' installation by Willow Twisters

During October half term, resident artists, Willow Twisters, worked with approximately 60 people from the local community to create 'Haymaking', an immersive interpretation made from willow.

People made from willow, holding scythes

15 Jun 21

Magna Carta Day – thinking freely

The team worked with Royal Holloway’s Dance Society and the Forest Estate Community Hub dance group at Runnymede to think about a key recurring theme from the Magna Carta, freedom, and how that could be explored through dance. Families and students came together in the Paddock for activities and a performance which put our moves to shame!