WELCOME TO RUNNYMEDE AND ANKERWYCKE
A HOME TO PICNICS AND POLITICS FOR 1000 YEARS
This blog post is part of British & Far East Traders ongoing online project called ‘BE ZEN… STAY ZEN’
We wanted to incorporate mindfulness: fully appreciating the moment, as a form of simple meditation.
Alot of times we suffer from poor output, lacklustre thinking, and perhaps living in a less than optimal way.
Its time to DETOX- In body, mind, and spirit.
Enjoy the walk…
Seen by many as the birthplace of modern democracy, Runnymede is famous as the meadow where King John sealed Magna Carta on 15 June 1215, and Ankerwycke is home to the only living witness to this event, a 2,500 year old yew tree.
But Runnymede’s importance stretches even further back. Archaeologists have found evidence of man from as early as the Neolithic and Bronze Ages, as well as signs of Roman occupation across the river at Ankerwycke.
Since then the land here has been home to a Secretary of State, hosted decades of Egham Races, been sketched by Turner, and committed to verse in Rudyard Kipling’s famous poem The Reeds of Runnymede.
In the 20th century of Runnymede became known as a memorial landscape, with monuments to Magna Carta, President John F Kennedy, Sir Urban Broughton and the Commonwealth Air Forces.
Today this tradition continues, with the recent addition of the Magna Carta 800th anniversary artwork The Jurors by Hew Locke.
Enjoy your visit!
WHEN CAN I VISIT?
Runnymede and Ankerwycke are open 7 days a week throughout the year from dawn until dusk.
RUNNYMEDE CAR PARKS
Car parking is free for National Trust members, or £1.50 per hour for non-members. Please pay and display.
*Car parks close at dusk if earlier. Please check noticeboards or our website for up to date prices and information.
MAGNA CARTA TEA-ROOM
Our small, friendly National Trust tea-room is open daily from 10am for drinks, snacks and light lunches. You can also buy gifts and souvenirs, including our guidebook.
FISHING AND MOORING PERMITS
You can buy Day and Season Permits from a member of staff, the ticket machine in the riverside car park or the tea-room.
NATIONAL TRUST MEMBERSHIP
To support our work and enjoy 505 special places around the country as often as you’d like, you can join the National Trust today. Just speak to a member of staff to find out more.
RUNNYMEDE ESTATE OFFICE
North Lodge, Windsor Road, Old Windsor, Berkshire, SL4 2JL
Source: National Trust Leaflet
Enjoy the flaxen grass, run your fingers through the blades and flowers as you walk.
Breathe in the fresh and clean hillside air, and exhale the stale air filling your lungs
Appreciate that life as with nature, has its own seasons. You may not be your best self now, but you are not a failure. You are perhaps just in the Winter of your life. Be patient with your self, and with your life. Never waste time worrying, it just breeds more worrying.
Soak in history. History teaches us alot. History teaches us alot about the rise and fall of nations. History gives strength to our foundations. History informs us of the consequences of our choices. History lets us have a taste of what it was like in another time and space. History affords us time travel. But most of all History lets us escape from the tightening grip of ourselves. Let go of too much controlling. You don’t live forever. Enjoy the moment.
Enjoy the sun. Enjoy the people. Enjoy the artwork. Take time to inspect the inscriptions on each chair. Run your fingers over the grooves and dents. Feel the cold metal on your skin. Your mind is starting to get out of the toxic rut. This is simply good.
Appreciate how the path meanders up the hill. It wasn’t created straight. It’s in part what makes it aesthetically pleasing. If your life was straight from birth to the achievement of your grandest goals, then where is the beauty in that?
Now back to the path. Notice the varying degrees of shading offered by the trees. Some parts have bursts of light thrown onto it. Some have light shade, just a touch of it. Some areas appear black on the photo due to the intensity of the shade.
Be grateful for your victories, trials, and tragedies. It means you are alive and walking along the path called life.
Now back onto the path. The path is paved with brick-shaped concrete laid out on its tall side. The path is also lined with choice stones. You don’t just need concrete, you also need stones. All works together for the good of those who love the Lord.
Life is a natural organic path. Learn to respect nature. Listen to the rustling of the leaves and to the chirping of the birds. They are all sounds reminding us of the triumph of nature.
You being able to walk along this path, is a living testimony that organically, your life has triumphed so far. Celebrate. Life itself is a cause for celebration!
THIS ACRE OF ENGLISH GROUND WAS GIVEN TO THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA BY THE PEOPLE OF BRITAIN IN MEMORY OF JOHN F. KENNEDY (BORN 29 MAY 1917) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES 1961-63 DIED BY AN ASSASSINS HAND 22 NOVEMBER 1963.
LET EVERY NATION KNOW WHETHER IT WISHES US WELL OR ILL THAT WE SHALL PAY ANY PRICE BEAR ANY BURDEN MEET ANY HARDSHIP SUPPORT ANY FRIEND OR OPPOSE ANY FOE IN ORDER TO ASSURE THE SURVIVAL AND SUCCESS OF LIBERTY.
FROM THE INAUGURAL ADDRESS OF PRESIDENT JOHN F KENNEDY 20 JANUARY 1961
Take a short break from the climb. Admire the views of Runnymede. Drink some water to rehydrate. Munch some snacks. Snap a photo. Or simply create an entry in your journal. Most of the time its not the grand achievements that make us happy in life. It’s the inner peace and contentment in our souls that make us enjoy life’s little pleasures. Reading, writing, and walking- just few of the simple delights that fuel our flights of fancy.
Pause for a moment. Enjoy this scenic memorial. Does it stir something within you?
Perhaps you admire the intuitive play of the permanence of concrete against the impermanence of life around it. Things such as this is beautiful, not because it is forever there but because it reminds us of our own brokenness and impermanence.
It awakens our philosophical understanding of wabi-sabi, a foremost Buddhist thought.
Let your thoughts fly and wander. Your thoughts are free. You shouldn’t feel imprisoned in your own head.
Perhaps the memorial awakens in you a sense of gratitude towards the American Bar Association.
Or perhaps your gratitude goes towards the builders… the landscape artist…the architect…
or nature for giving you such a fine weather as today.
Gratitude is a very healthy thing.
Practice it more.
It releases good vibes from your being.
You become thankful and appreciative of the smaller things in life.
You start not to take things for granted.
Inspiration comes from anything.
Perhaps the memorial awakens in you your passions.
Perhaps it rekindles the embers in your heart.
You may wish to pursue your passion for history…
or perhaps for the natural world.
Whatever it is you have thought about, let it linger.
Dreams and visions are like wine, they get refined and better with age.
WRIT IN WATER
Mark Wallinger in collaboration with Studio Octopi, 2018.
Writ in Water celebrates the global significance of Magna Carta at Runnymede, a locus at the heart of this ancient landscape for us to reflect upon the founding principles of democracy.
Writ in Water has been made possible with National Lottery funding through Arts Council England and the generous support of Art Fund, the Sigrid Rausing Trust, the Henry Moore Foundation and Lord and Lady Lupton.
With additional support from Iwan and Manuela Wirth, Valeria and Rudolf Maag- Arrigoni and Harris Calnan.
Commissioned by the National Trust in association with Situations.
You have now come out in the open once again. You can breathe in, inhaling deeply the health and beauty of this natural landscape. The wild meadow flowers are in full bloom, so beautiful without even trying. They are beautiful in their natural state. Life is like this. When we reach our season to bloom, we just exude beauty and inspiration without trying. Be patient with yourself and with your life. Patience is a virtue…
You are now in the woods. Out from the baking sun for a moment. Feel the cooling breeze of the woods, note how they revive your energy for a while. Enjoy the beauty of the canopy as well as the undergrowth, they all enjoy the woodlands as much as you do.
Take note the different tensions exerted on your leg and thigh muscles as you climb up and down these steps. You needed the tension, its good for your physique.
Also note the sweet sound of your boots as it crunches the dirt path. Its satisfying to the ears.
The woods are also full of wildlife…of squirrels…of butterflies…of moss…of fungi…and of birds. Take note of their sounds and of their presence. Thank them and wish them well. For like them, we shall all soon rejoin Mother Nature when our earthly life has passed. Be gentle with your soul. Mother Nature is successful without imposing and punishing. Be gentle to yourself always. There isn’t any need to be tough. Always be fluid. Learn to gently move with the ever-changing seasons of life.
Take note of the pockets of spaces in the canopy and in between the trees. What a lovely space for fresh air to circulate. The woods are nature’s lungs. We are so close to the urban hustle and bustle but so far in spirit. We are at one with nature.
We can’t see inside of our lungs but anatomy will let you appreciate that they indeed look like trees. They have trunks, branches, and leaves, that take in the old air from your system and gives you clean filtered oxygen. There is wisdom in nature. It is a creation of a Divine Creator afterall.
Take note of the juxtaposition…of the natural and the artificial…of man-made and of nature.
There is beauty because of the contrast.
Both signify life…one of lives lost, one of thriving life.
But soon when winter comes, the only standing sign of life here will be the memorial.
Where the ferns once stood will be a barren earth, perhaps covered with snow and frost.
Appreciate the cycles of life.
To fight it would be vanity.
As the book of Ecclesiastes says, vanity of vanities, all is vanity.
Here you can appreciate the struggle for height. Is nature really on a struggle? Life in the natural world seems to struggle in their fight for sunlight. Trees, ferns, vines, weeds, all spread out their leaves and appears to grow taller to outdo each other. Perhaps its survival of the fittest.
Also take note, there seems to be a natural order in nature. Though as much as the flora try to outdo each other for the season being, winter will soon self-correct everything. The ferns would have grown very tall, the blackberries would have encroached the undergrowth, but no matter how fast they grow, their stems are not designed to progress with height.
The natural world is teaching us economics here. One can leverage growth by investments or debts, but if the foundation of the economy is not designed to grow slow and steady like a tree, the winters (recessions, depressions) will soon reset everything.
You could be a fern, seeming plump in your pace of outgrowing a tree, but it won’t be long before winter. Be the best of what you can be. You are a successful fern. Comparing yourself to a tree will make you feel empty, so lost in your quest.
Perhaps you imagine yourself as a tree. Be happy in your growth. Grow slowly and steadily, for with time you will soon reach your prime. You can’t be a tree and wish to grow as fast as a fern. We all have our cross to carry. Choose your battles. Have peace of mind in whatever you do. Put alot of thought in your actions. Half of the battles you have engaged in are battles that shouldn’t have happened in the first place.
YinYang teaches us that there is a time for thought…and for action…time to be busy…time for contemplation…time for planting…time for waiting.
To be engaged in eternal busyness is unhealthy…unsustainable…a state of imbalance.
Nurture your soul because from the dark unlit places of your being will soon bring forth the seed of a dream. Be gentle. Be patient. You can’t control life…for then you’d be God.
THE RUNNYMEDE MEMORIAL
This memorial commemorates by name those who lost their lives during the Second World War while serving with the Air Forces of the Commonwealth at bases in the United Kingdom or in NorthWest Europe and who have no known grave. They came from all parts of the Commonwealth or from countries of continental Europe which had been overrun and whose airmen continued the fight as members of the Royal Air Force.
The number commemorated is made up as follows:
Royal Air Force: 15462
Royal Canadian Air Force: 3050
Royal Australian Air Force: 1397
Royal New Zealand Air Force: 576
South African Air Force: 17
Royal Indian Air Force: 7
Women’s Auxiliary Air Force: 10
Ferry Command: 9
Air Transport Auxiliary:8
British Overseas Airways Corporation:7
Air Training Corps: 4
THIS MEMORIAL WAS BUILT AND IS MAINTAINED BY THE COMMONWEALTH WAR GRAVES COMMISSION
ARCHITECT: SIR EDWARD MAUFE
THEIR NAME LIVETH FOR EVERMORE
Meditate on this scene for a while. Names of people forever lost but never forgotten. The granite of permanence bearing the names of our glorious heroes having succumbed to the impermanence of life. Have peace in your soul. This is your gift to your person.
All is not lost. One lifetime’s loss is another generation’s gain. Our fallen heroes will never be forgotten. Their memory lives on.
For like the fallen leaves on a forest floor, the loss is just for a season. The loss of one season makes up for the springing forth of a healthy and strong beginning the next.
Their legacy lives on.
THEY DIED FOR FREEDOM IN RAID AND SORTIE OVER THE BRITISH ISLES AND THE LANDS AND SEAS OF NORTHERN AND WESTERN EUROPE
We have now left the Air Forces Memorial. Hope you have appreciated the lives of those fallen heroes.
Pause here for a while. Notice the unique architecture of the windows on the top floor. It is a stark contrast to its Georgian counterparts which were well known for symmetry and geometric architecture.
Perhaps this is a celebration of fluidity, of curves, is more abundantly found in nature. The aesthetics of a building reveals the predominant philosophy of its creator, which more often than not is influenced by the predominant philosophy of the age.
As we can glean from history, there was a time in Europe that formal gardens of geometric lines and strictly controlled and maintained topiary were all the rage. This philosophy reflects the mindset of man controlling nature. It was a time when gardens all over France, Netherlands, and England were fashioned to this strict formality.
But man can not forever subdue nature. Man’s need of controlling nature perhaps stems from man’s deep need to control fate. Or perhaps, to prove nature who is king!
If we are to greatly benefit from history, let us perhaps appreciate that nature itself is a living history. Experience is the best teacher they say, and nature has billions of years in terms of that.
Respect for nature…
Realise that you are out in the open, in the meadows. As exposed as you are to the elements, there is a cosy feeling from deep within you saying I feel comforted by nature.
The lazy swaying of the blades and flowers of the grass reminds you its summer. It’s a time for making the most of the season, the weather, the great outdoors.
Cast your worries behind. It’s the season to commune with nature. For such a season only last for a short period of time. Here today, gone tomorrow. Also appreciate that though the seasons don’t last forever, you can also count on them for their regularity. That you can expect summer to come every year for a long long time.
It’s perhaps a very deep realisation that our life is part of nature itself. That though nothing ever is permanent, we can always count on something regular such as the changing of seasons.
You can be feeling low now, but realise that with time, you can be at your happiest and telling yourself I wish this time will never end…
Absorb this scene for a while. Isn’t it beautiful how the long & tall summer grass frame the foreground of such a beautiful architecture. It really is just a small piece of building but it does bring joy to the soul.
If you can find beauty in everything, you will soon realise that there is beauty in your trials and tragedies.
Life is a matter of perspective. Learn to live on whatever little you have.
Though vibrant flowers can survive here, sometimes too much loud and vibrant colours can be intoxicating to the senses.
Let the soft and calm golden hue invite you to a more contemplative state. The modern age has programmed us to be continually seeking for stimulation. Boredom now becomes the exact opposite of ‘there isn’t anything to do’.
Sometimes in our addiction for ‘doing’, we neglect that part of ‘thinking’…of thinking deeply how things and events find their meanings in our lives.
We feel frazzled despite our attempts to make life more comfortable. The world that we live in is going faster. We don’t have to keep pace. Slow down…or better yet stop for a while…
Contemplate on how life seems to be slower by the river. Note the sense of calm and peace.
Make a commitment to look after your mental health with regular doses of nature therapy. You’ll be glad you did.
45 minute trips on the Lucy Fisher
Explore the River Thames along the historic Runnymede rich with views of the memorials and Ankerwycke. Take a 45 minute trip from here on board the famous Lucy Fisher, star of the films “Tarzan Greystoke” and “Chaplin”.
Lucy Fisher is suitable for all, including groups, with very good access for those with accessibility issues including wheelchair users.