World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article


Detail of area shown in location map, skewed north-south

Runnymede is a water-meadow alongside the River Thames in the English county of Surrey, and just over 20 miles (32 km) west of central London. It is notable for its association with the sealing of Magna Carta, and as a consequence is, with its adjoining hillside, the site of memorials. Runnymede Borough is named after the area, Runnymede being at its northernmost point.


  • Topography 1
  • History 2
  • Features 3
    • Urban H. Broughton Memorials 3.1
    • Langham Pond SSSI 3.2
    • Air Forces Memorial 3.3
    • John F. Kennedy Memorial 3.4
    • Magna Carta Memorial 3.5
    • Ceremonial Tree Plantings 3.6
    • The Jurors 3.7
    • Cooper's Hill House 3.8
    • Ankerwycke Yew 3.9
  • Location and access 4
  • Namesakes 5
    • Spain 5.1
    • Australia 5.2
    • Canada 5.3
    • France 5.4
    • India 5.5
    • United States 5.6
  • Notes and references 6
  • External links 7


View over Magna Carta Island towards Runnymede
Runnymede water-meadow viewed from south-east of National Trust land
Long Mede pasture at Runnymede viewed from north-west of National trust land

The name Runnymede refers to land in public and National Trust ownership in the Thames flood plain south-west of the river between Old Windsor and Egham. The area includes (to the west of A308 road) the Long Mede and Runnymede, which together with Coopers Hill Slopes is managed by the National Trust. There is also a narrower strip of land, east of the road and west of the river, known as the Yard Mede. Slightly further downstream from the area shown on the map are (inter alia): a recreational area with a car park; a number of private homes; a large distribution centre; and an hotel.

The landscape of Runnymede is characterised as "Thames Basin Lowland", urban fringe. It is a gently undulating vale of small fields interspersed by woods, shaws, ponds, meadows, and heath.[1] The National Trust area is a Site of Nature Conservation Interest (SNCI) which contains a Site of Special Scientific Interest. Both sites are overseen by Runnymede Borough Council.[1]

The National Trust holding includes:

  • 188 acres (0.76 km2) donated in 1929 set behind a narrow riverside park with occasional benches on the southern river bank, with car and coach parking;
  • 110 acres (0.45 km2) of broadleaved woodland on Coopers Hill Slopes, given in 1963 by the former Egham Urban District Council.[n 1]

Long Mede is a meadow north of the ancient "mede" (meadow)[2] of Runnymede towards Old Windsor and has been used for centuries to provide good-quality hay from the alluvial pasture. Runnymede itself lies towards Egham. It is likely that Runnymede proper was the site of the sealing of Magna Carta, although the Magna Carta Memorial (see below) stands on Long Mede, and the event is also popularly associated with Magna Carta Island, on the opposite bank of the Thames.[3]

Near the Island, on the north-east flood plain, in parkland on the eastern bank of the river, are Ankerwycke and the ruins of the 12th century Priory of St Mary's. The Thames has changed course here occasionally, and these areas may once have been an integral part of Runnymede. Both were acquired by the National Trust in 1998.


Runnymede's historical significance has been heavily influenced by its proximity to the Roman Road river crossing at nearby Staines-upon-Thames.

The name Runnymede may be derived from the Anglo-Saxon runieg (regular meeting) and mede (mead or meadow), describing a place in the meadows used to hold regular meetings. The Witan, parliament.

The water-meadow at Runnymede is the most likely location at which, in 1215, King John sealed Magna Carta.[3] The charter indicates Runnymede by name as "Ronimed. inter Windlesoram et Stanes" (between Windsor and Staines). Magna Carta had an impact on common and constitutional law as well as political representation also affecting the development of parliament.

Runnymede's association with ideals of democracy, limitation of power, equality and freedom under law has attracted placement there of monuments and commemorative symbols.

The last fatal duel in England took place in 1852,[5] on Priest Hill, a continuation of Cooper's Hill by Windsor Great Park.

The National Trust land was donated in 1929 by peerage in tribute to her husband and this gift and be officially styled Lady Fairhaven. The gift was given in memory of Urban Broughton. At the time the New Bedford Standard-Times commented "It must be a source of gratification to all Americans, and especially to us here and in Fairhaven, that the presentation of this historic spot as public ground has been brought about by an American woman, an appropriate enough circumstance considering that the great charter underlies the USA's conception of government and human rights."[6]


Urban H. Broughton Memorials

Lutyens designed memorial lodge and pier
Lutyens designed pier commemorating Magna Carta

After the death of Urban Broughton in 1929, Sir Edwin Lutyens was commissioned to design a set of twin memorials consisting of large kiosks and posts or "piers" with stone blocks crowned with laurel wreaths and formalised urns at the Egham end and with lodges and piers at the Windsor end. Lutyens also designed a low wide arch bridge to carry the main road over the Thames to the north, integrating the road layout and bridge design into his plans for the memorials. The southern kiosks were moved to their present location when the M25 motorway was constructed.[7]

There are two octagonal kiosks with piers facing each other across the A308 towards Egham. These piers are a shorter version of those adjacent to the lodges either side of the same road towards Old Windsor in the Long Mede. The lodges show typical Lutyens design features with steeply angled roofs, large false chimneys and no rainwater gutters at the eaves.

The piers carry similar inscriptions. On one face is the inscription:

and on the other the words:-

The memorials were opened in 1932 by the Prince of Wales (Edward VIII) and are Grade II listed buildings.[8]

Langham Pond SSSI

Western stretch of Langham Pond

Langham Pond was created when the meandering River Thames formed an oxbow lake. Its status as a wetland Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) was first notified in 1975 and later reviewed under Section 28 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 when the protected area was extended to 64 acres (260,000 m2) within Runnymede as managed by the National Trust.[9]

The pond and associated meadow form a habitat considered unique in Southern England and of international importance for nature conservation. The flora and fauna include nationally scarce plants and insects including a species of fly unrecorded elsewhere in the United Kingdom.

Air Forces Memorial

Commonwealth Air Forces Memorial

The Air Forces Memorial commemorates the men and women of the Allied Air Forces who died during the Second World War and records the names of the 20,456 airmen who have no known grave.

From the top of the tower visitors can see long views over Windsor, the surrounding counties and aircraft taking off and landing at Heathrow. On a good day visitors can see as far as the Wembley Arch and even the Gherkin in the City of London. The memorial was designed by Sir Edward Maufe, architect of Guildford Cathedral.

John F. Kennedy Memorial

JFK Memorial designed by Geoffrey Jellicoe

The British memorial for U.S. President John F. Kennedy was jointly dedicated in May 1965, by Queen Elizabeth II and Jacqueline Kennedy, prior to a reception for the Kennedy family at Windsor Castle. The memorial consists of a garden and Portland stone memorial tablet inscribed with the famous quote from his Inaugural Address:[10]

Visitors reach the memorial by treading a steep path of irregular granite steps, intended to symbolise a pilgrimage. There are 50 steps in total. Each step is different from all others, with the entire flight made from 60,000 hand-cut granite setts.[10] Landscape architect Geoffrey Jellicoe designed the garden;[11] sculptor Alan Collins designed and carved the stone inscription.[12] The area of ground on which the memorial is situated was given as a gift to the United States of America by the people of Britain.[6][13] (Though property ownership was transferred to the federal government of the United States, the area remains under the sovereignty of the United Kingdom.[14]) It is maintained by the Kennedy Memorial Trust, which also sponsors educational scholarships for British students to attend university in the United States.

In 1968 the 7-ton stone was damaged by a bomb during a time of anti-Vietnam war demonstrations;[15] it was later repaired by the sculptor.

Magna Carta Memorial

ABA tribute to Magna Carta at Runnymede with stone benches installed in 2015
Engraved stone recalling the 1985 ABA visit

Situated in a grassed enclosure. on the lower slopes of Cooper's Hill, this memorial is of a domed classical style monopteros, containing a pillar of English granite on which is inscribed "To commemorate Magna Carta, symbol of Freedom Under Law". The memorial was created by the American Bar Association (ABA) to a design by Sir Edward Maufe R.A., and was unveiled on 18 July 1957 at a ceremony attended by American and English lawyers.[10]

Since 1957 representatives of the ABA have visited and rededicated the Memorial, renewing pledges to the Great Charter. In 1971 and 1985 commemorative stones were placed on the Memorial plinth.

In July 2000 the ABA came:

In 2007, on its 50th anniversary, the ABA again visited Runnymede. During its convention it installed as President Charles Rhyne, who devised Law Day, which in the USA represents an annual reaffirmation of faith in the forces of law for peace.

In 2008 floodlights were installed to light the memorial at night.

In 2015, in anticipation of the 800th anniversary of the sealing of Magna Carta, the two wooden benches at the memorial were replaced by stone benches.[16] On 15 June, the anniversary day, the ABA, accompanied by US Attorney General Loretta Lynch, rededicated the memorial in a ceremony led by HRH The Princess Royal in the presence of Her Majesty the Queen and other members of the Royal family.[17]

The Magna Carta Memorial is administered by the Magna Carta Trust, which is chaired by the Master of the Rolls.[18]

Ceremonial Tree Plantings

The Republic of India plaque beneath the oak tree planted by former Prime Minister Rao

The Duke of Kent together with David K. Diebold, a Minister-Counselor at the US Embassy in London, planted an oak tree adjacent to the Magna Carta Memorial in 1987, as did P. V. Narismha Rao, Prime Minister of the Republic of India. The Prime Minister left a plaque reading:

In 1987 two further oak trees were planted near the Memorial. One, planted by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, marked National Tree Week. Another, planted by John O. Marsh, Secretary of the Army of the USA, has a plaque which reads:

The Jurors

Hew Locke sculptor / artist on one of the 12 Juror chairs
The Jurors art installation at Runnymede designed by Hew Locke and cast in bronze to commemorate the impact of Magna Carta

The Jurors artwork was commissioned by Surrey County Council and the National Trust to mark the 800th anniversary of the sealing of Magna Carta. The sculptor Hew Locke created 12 bronze chairs each of which is decorated with symbols of past and present struggles for freedom, equality and the rule of law. The artist / sculptor invites participants to sit, reflect upon and discuss the themes represented. In the image the back of the chair nearest the viewer is a representation of Nelson Mandela's prison cell on Robben Island, South Africa. The portrait seen of the further chair is of Lillie Lenton wearing insignia related to the imprisonment and activism of suffragettes.

The installation was inaugurated at Runnymede by Prince William during the Magna Carta 800th Anniversary celebrations.

Cooper's Hill House

A large house on Cooper's Hill, overlooking Runnymede and the River Thames, has played a number of roles – as the Royal Indian Engineering College; wartime Post Office headquarters; storage for the Statue of Eros during World War II; an emergency teacher training college; Shoreditch College – a centre for craft and handiwork education – and most recently, Brunel University's design school (has removed to Uxbridge Main Campus).

Ankerwycke Yew

The revered +1,400 year old[19] Ankerwycke Yew, on the left bank of the river, is also a possible site where Magna Carta may have been sealed. The sacred tree could have been the location of the Witan council and influenced the founding of St Mary's Priory there. This religious site may well have been the preferred neutral meeting place of King John and the barons.

Land development proposals threatening the yew led to action resulting in the tree and surrounding estate passing into the protection of the National Trust in 1998.

Henry VIII is said to have met Anne Boleyn under the tree in the 1530s.[20]

In 1992, botanist and environmental campaigner David Bellamy led a dedication at the yew, stating:

There followed ten pledges to sustain all life forms.[10]

Location and access

Runnymede is 20 miles (32 km) west by southwest of the centre of London. It is owned by the National Trust and is open 24 hours, seven days a week, at no charge.

Runnymede is accessed via the road or river towpath on foot or by bicycle, or by motor vehicle via the A308 road near Egham about 4 miles (6.4 km) southeast of Windsor. Two car parks (on the A308) adjoin the Windsor entrance (these may be closed in winter due to flooding etc.). Runnymede is also along the Thames Path National Trail. The nearest railway station is Egham. One of the Lutyens lodges at the Windsor entrance to the meadow houses a popular tea room.

The Anckerwycke area on the other bank of the river is accessible from the B376 between Wraysbury and Staines (nearest station Wraysbury).




  • Runnymede, Queensland, (postcode 4615) – a rural locality near Nanango and Kingaroy.
  • Runnymede, Victoria, (postcode 3559) – a rural locality north east of Bendigo.
  • Runnymede, Tasmania, (postcode 7190) – a village north of Richmond.
  • Runnymede Group Pty Ltd (Company, Sydney Australia)




United States

Notes and references

  1. ^ In April 1974, the Council was subsumed within Runnymede Borough.
  2. ^ In Fairhaven, Massachusetts
  1. ^ a b Anon (2004). "Natural Environment: Profile of the Runnymede Landscape" (PDF). First Annual State of Runnymede Report 2004. Runnymede Borough Council. p. 2. Retrieved 1 October 2009. 
  2. ^ 2mead, n. Oxford English Dictionary (subscription required). Retrieved: 2015-09-27. "Mead" means "meadow", historical spelling "mede".
  3. ^ a b Tatton-Brown, Tim (July 2015). "Magna Carta at 800: uncovering its landscape archaeology". Current Archaeology (304): 34–37. 
  4. ^ Anon. "History of Runnymede". Days out ad visits. The National Trust. Retrieved 1 October 2009. 
  5. ^ Film sequel is big surprise. The Royal Borough Observer, 27 May 2011. Retrieved 24 July 2013.
  6. ^ a b Longworth, Carolyn; Mabel Hoyle Knipe. "Runnymede". Her Ladyship (Part Two) Some Memories of Cara Leland Rogers Broughton The first Lady Fairhaven. Millicent Library,. Retrieved 1 October 2009. 
  7. ^ Lutyen's southern memorials to the site sponsors – nationally listed structures for architecture/design  
  8. ^ "2 lodges at north end of Runnymede meadow". English Heritage. Retrieved 27 February 2012. 
  9. ^ Anon. "Langham Pond:Citation" (PDF). English nature. Retrieved 2 October 2009. 
  10. ^ a b c d "Runnymede : Memorials". National Trust. Retrieved 21 October 2008. 
  11. ^ "Kennedy Family Coming For Memorial Inauguration".  
  12. ^ Collins, Alan. "Collections". Alan Collins Sculptor. Alan Collins. Retrieved 23 November 2009. 
  13. ^ Anon. "Magna Carta Memorial and John F Kennedy Memorial". Retrieved 1 October 2009. 
  14. ^ Evans, D. M. Emrys (1965). "John F. Kennedy Memorial Act, 1964". The Modern Law Review 28 (6): 703–706. 
  15. ^ Anon (28 October 1968). "Bomb mars JFK memorial". St Petersburgh Times. Retrieved 23 November 2009. 
  16. ^ "Magna Carta Bench". Chilstone. 15 July 2015. Retrieved 15 July 2015. 
  17. ^ Anon (15 June 2015). "Magna Carta changed the world, David Cameron tells anniversary event". BBC News. BBC. Retrieved 15 July 2015. 
  18. ^ "American Bar Association". Runnymede Borough Council. Retrieved 21 October 2008. 
  19. ^ Bevan-Jones, Robert (2004). The ancient yew: a history of Taxus baccata. Bollington: Windgather Press. p. 57.  
  20. ^ Heritage Trees of Britain and Northern Ireland, Stokes and Rodger, 2004, Constable.

External links

  • Runnymede information at the National Trust
  • Shoreditch College, Information about the former teachers' college at Cooper's Hill House

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.