A giant step in the history of democracy was taken at Runnymede on the Thames outside Egham. Here King John, under his barons' compulsion, signed the Magna Carta in 1215, affirming in theory that individuals had the right to justice and liberty. There's not much to see, though you can stroll the woodlands. On the wooded hillside, in a meadow given to the United States by Queen Elizabeth in 1965, stands a memorial to President John F. Kennedy. Nearby is another memorial,
a classical temple in style, erected by the American Bar Association for the 750th anniversary of the signing. There is no visitor center at Runnymede, just informational plaques, a nice tearoom, and a parking lot (small charge). The site is on the south side of A308 (traffic is noisy); on the opposite bank of the Thames are the ruins of the 11th-century St. Mary's Priory and the 2,000-year-old Ankerwycke Yew.
Jul 4, 2005
I think this site is one of the most influencial sites an American can see. This is where our freedom originated and I just think it is steeped in history. King John being forced to sign the Magna Carta by the serfs is just too important an event to be missed. However much I like JFK, I am still a bit mistified as to why there is a tribute on this site to him. I mean, it's a nice gesture, but why here?