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The Jurors at Runnymede

The Jurors, by artist Hew Locke, at Runnymede and Ankerwycke, Surrey, composed of 12 intricately worked bronze chairs incorporating imagery representing key moments in the struggle for freedom, rule of law and equal rights, photographed beneath a stormy sky
The Jurors, by artist Hew Locke, at Runnymede and Ankerwycke, Surrey, composed of 12 intricately worked bronze chairs incorporating imagery representing key moments in the struggle for freedom, rule of law and equal rights | © National Trust Images/John Miller

To mark 800 years since the sealing of Magna Carta at Runnymede, the National Trust unveiled The Jurors, an intricate artwork in the Runnymede landscape celebrating the endurance of Magna Carta. Discover the 12 bronze chairs by listening to an audio tour and learn more about the meaning behind this intricate artwork here.

About the artwork

Twelve intricately worked bronze chairs stand together on the ancient meadow at Runnymede, created by artist Hew Locke to examine the changing and ongoing significance of Magna Carta. The Jurors is not a memorial, but an invitation to sit down and reflect upon the histories depicted in the artwork.

Each bronze chair incorporates a main image on the front and back, representing key moments in the struggle for freedom around the world, and is embellished with flowers, keys and other significant symbols. The artist has coloured and polished some areas, as well as adding slashes and gouges to the surfaces. The result is a rich layering of imagery, marks and textures.Download the audio tour

If you’re visiting The Jurors, listen to the audio guide presented by National Trust curator, Rowena Willard-Wright with the artist, Hew Locke, and discover the inspiration behind the artwork.

Video
Video

The Jurors at Runnymede

The video offers an introduction to The Jurors and what you can expect to see during your visit to the artwork.

What does each chair represent?

Use the gallery below to explore each chair and find descriptions of the intricate artwork. Chair one is the chair at the head of the set, furthest from the Runnymede car park and tea-room.

Close-up of chair 1 of The Jurors by Hew Locke, on display at Runnymede, Surrey: showing a woman in a jacket with badges, who is the suffragette Lillie Lenton
Close-up of chair 1 of The Jurors by Hew Locke: Lillie Lenton | © National Trust/Brendan Burbage

Chair 1

On the front is a portrait of Lillie Lenton, wearing medals and bandages symbolising the imprisonment and activism of suffragettes. On the back, you’ll see an investigation of the United Nations Convention of the Rights of the Child. Here we see it debated in a modern classroom, but it was based upon a 1923 document drafted by British social reformer Eglantyne Jebb.

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The artist behind The Jurors

Video
Video

The artist behind the Jurors

In the video below, Hew Locke, the artist behind The Jurors, talks about his inspiration and the process of creating these 12 intricate bronze chairs. 

Locke's work varies from large-scale beaded wall-hangings through to small-scale, layered drawings. The most prominent elements of Locke’s work are emblems of power: portraits of royalty, coats of arms, public statues and share certificates.

Locke reproduces these emblems, adding embellishments and ornaments, often from different time periods – coats of arms are re-made in a string of beads, royal portraits rendered in plastic flowers and jewellery, also used to adorn photographs of statues.

Locke is fascinated by history and how events of the past are recalled and represented today, making him an astute choice for the Runnymede public art commission. He was born in Scotland in 1959 and was brought up from an early age in Guyana, until he returned to the UK in 1980.

In Guyana, a former colony and newly independent Commonwealth country, he grew up surrounded by images of Queen Elizabeth II and other symbols of British colonial power.

Locke’s use of these images in his artwork appears to be as much about adorning and celebrating them, as it is about re-imaging and perhaps critiquing their power.

A young girl with a dog exploring the Magna Carta Memorial, Runnymede, Surrey, showing the inscription 'To commemorate Magna Carta, symbol of freedom under law'. The memorial marks the spot where the Magna Carta was sealed in 1215.

Discover more at Runnymede and Ankerwycke

Find out how to get to Runnymede and Ankerwycke, where to park, the things to see and do and more.

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