General articles

Magna Carta Ringing

by Malcolm Loveday (Chairman, The Chertsey Society and ringer at Chertsey) and Kate Flavell (Chairman, CCCBR Public Relations Committee)

Bell ringers everywhere are being encouraged to ‘Strike A Blow For Democracy’ in June 2015 to commemorate the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta which was sealed at the Runnymede Meadows between King John and 25 Barons at an event supervised by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Stephen Langton.

Hundreds of bell ringers looked at the display stand close to the registration desk at the Ringing Roadshow at Newbury Racecourse on 6th September 2014. The display stand included a continuous slide show of photographs of Runnymede meadows and other items relating to Magna Carta, including the blue lines of Runnymede Surprise Major, Magna Carta Delight Major and Magna Carta Surprise Royal. Many ringers are already making plans for special ringing over the weekend Friday, 12th June to Monday, 15th June 2015, with Sunday, 14th June nominated as ‘The Big Ring Day’. Ringing could be co-ordinated with Parish events, such as ‘Liber-Teas’ or tower open days followed by Magna Carta themed evening services.

Hopefully ringers everywhere will participate in a) general ringing, b) special touches of 800 changes, c) quarter peals or d) peals. It would be great if a photograph could be taken of all who take part and sent to The Ringing World for a special issue to be published shortly after the weekend as a permanent record of all the ringing events. Please do take the opportunity to get some local publicity, perhaps with a view to recruiting new ringers. And do contact the Public Relations Committee ( This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ) or see our website if you need any help with this (www.cccbr.org.uk/pr/advice/). As Magna Carta mania sweeps the country with special TV programmes, lectures, history phone apps, concerts, exhibitions, books et c. we hope that the ringing fraternity will make the best use from publicity associated with the celebrations. It is understood that plans are already in hand to ring peals at a number of places including a) Worcester Cathedral, the resting place of King John, b) Guildford Cathedral (Magna Carta Surprise Maximus) in the Diocese in which Runnymede resides and c) Long Crendon which was the home of William Marshall the Younger (one of the Barons).

Plans are also progressing nationally and internationally to mark the anniversary, as the Magna Carta is widely regarded as the cornerstone for the foundation of the British system of democracy which has spread throughout the world, see http://magnacarta800th.com. Sadly, as far as we are aware, no bells have yet been commissioned from the founders to be cast commemorating the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta.

The Church of England General Synod passed a resolution on 14th July 2014 that included:

‘Synod welcomes with enthusiasm the events throughout 2015 already being organised by dioceses, deaneries, parishes and local authorities to mark the Magna Carta and encourage dioceses, deaneries, parishes and other church bodies to undertake further local initiatives around the Anniversary – which might include street parties, community fairs or pageants, and the ringing of Church and Cathedral bells.’

The Magna Carta Barons Association has held several meetings and is liaising with the bell ringers in their towns to co-ordinate ringing with other special events taking place to highlight the role undertaken by their local Baron, see www.magnacartabarons.info/index.php/magna-carta-barons-association.

Surrey County Council working in conjunction with The National Trust are taking the lead for events associated with Runnymede Meadows, which includes installing a pedestrian crossing on the road and legacy plans for ‘Magna Carta Country’. However, many of their plans are hampered by the failure in September 2014 of their Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) grant application because the fund was oversubscribed. HLF have suggested that the application be resubmitted in January.

Runnymede Borough Council is slowly releasing details of local events which mainly focus on Royal Holloway College, University of London, in Egham, including lectures, history, phone apps and a flower festival. A new Magna Carta embroidery will be displayed and a special illustrated Borough Guide will be circulated to all households in Runnymede. We understand that HM The Queen, as Patron of the Magna Carta Trust, will visit Runnymede Meadows, on 15th June, probably accompanied by leaders of countries whose constitutions are loosely based on the Great Charter. Some local Runnymede Councillors are planning to have a new statue of The Queen made if they can raise the £350k for its manufacture. The statue was originally designed for The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee but funds were not forthcoming for its construction. The irony will not be lost on democratically elected Presidents of the free world as a Monarch’s statue is unveiled to mark the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta.

King John stayed at Odiham Castle, Hampshire prior to travelling to Runnymede to meet the barons. The Odiham ringers are planning for the towers on the route to be progressively rung on Sunday, 14th June 2015 starting with Odiham (6) at 12 noon. Possible towers along the route could include:

Winchfield (3), Yately (8), Sandhurst (6), Hawley (8), Camberley (York Town) (8), Bagshot (8), Egham (10), Old Windsor (8), Windsor (8), Curfew Tower, Windsor Castle (8), Wraysbury (8), Staines, St Mary (8), Staines, St Peter (8), Thorpe (4), Chertsey (8) and Ottershaw (6). In addition it is planned that the BBC’s Bells on Sunday will feature Odiham bells on Sunday, 14th June 2015.

A contact list is being compiled for reporting Magna Carta ringing events so please let us know your contact eMail address so that we can keep you informed as plans develop; please respond to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

For more information about ringing activities and a list of towers with Magna Carta connections please look at the two previous articles published in The Ringing World – see RW 23rd August 2013 and 13th December 2013.

Acknowledgements

Thanks are expressed to Cllr Chris Norman, the Surrey County Councillor for Chertsey, who sponsored the Ringing Roadshow stand through his member’s allocation via a grant to The Chertsey Society.

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