Runnymede memorials

Runnymede Meadows, June 1215. King John meets the Barons and agrees the Great Charter. July 1957, the American Bar Association establish a memorial on site.

Frankly, I don't think the Magna Carta meant much to the common man at the time. We were still serfs. However, it was a statement of fundamental rights making all 'freemen' bound by the law, even if the trickle down the class hierarchy took some hundreds of years.

If Runnymede was in America I expect there would be a colourful tented encampment. Knights in jousting tournaments. Glamorous olde worlde wenches. As it's in Britain, apart from the Magna Carter Tea Rooms in an Edwin Lutyens building, there is virtually nothing on site. Good. Wait though. If you look away from the river, into the field beyond the road, what is that?

Photo, Magna Carta memorial, Runnymede

Designed by Edward Maufe it's weird and the closer you get the weirder it looks. Hexagonal stone columns. Sort of star burst emblem on the floor. Window in the domed roof over stone pillar with a five pointed star on it. More USAF roundel than pentangle. The painted ceiling is highly reminiscent of that in the wings of Maufe's excellent Air Forces Memorial. Here it just doesn't work. 'Temple to Law' is the best interpretation I can offer. By the American Bar Association.

Why, and why then? I can see the potential inspirations when drafting US constitutional documents but what happened in 1957? If you know the story, please tell.

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