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Runnymede Explored: A Brand New National Trust Project

Last year the National Trust announced their brand new National Heritage Lottery Funded project, Runnymede Explored. Over the next 5 years the project aims to transform the way in which visitors experience these ancient meadows. Here’s a roundup of what’s involved and what’s going to change…

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Uniting Runnymede and Ankerwycke

Just across the River Thames you’ll find the Ankerwycke Yew. At an impressive 2,500 years old, it’s the National Trust’s oldest tree, a tree which has witnessed countless days throughout history. Some claim that King Henry courted Anne Boleyn under the tree and maybe even proposed there too. It’s currently divided from the main National Trust site by the River Thames and can only be reached by a slightly tricky drive around near the M25.

Which is why we’re delighted to hear that plans are now in place to unite these two unique sites with a ferry crossing, which will operate daily allowing visitors to experience both sites within one visit. The ferry will start next to the North Lodge and transport people over the river and back again.

Learning more

The project will put in place brand new learning panels around the themes of liberty, Magna Carta and Runnymede as a site of commemoration.

This will be a way to teach everyone who walks through about Magna Carta, an incredible document which was signed on site on 15th June 1215, which then paved the way for modern democracy.

The meadows are also home to a number of memorials along with two public artwork pieces. The Jurors is a series of 12 bronze chairs, each incorporating symbols and imagery representing concepts of law and equal rights. If you wander further on through the meadow, you’ll come across Writ in Water, an award winning architectural work by Mark Wallinger which is themed on clause 39 of Magna Carta, reflecting the words into a central pool in the middle of the piece. Interpretation panels will help visitors to discover these beautiful artworks and make them part of their visit.

Access for all

Runnymede Explored will include new and improved paths, boardwalks and trails. So whether you’re coming with pushchairs, you’re in a wheelchair or you’d prefer a level pathway, there will be access across the meadow for you.

Community connections

The project will also offer volunteering opportunities for local people. The National Trust will be looking for volunteers at every step along the way, whether it’s a photography volunteer to document the project or archaeology volunteers to join in with excavations planned over the next few years. If you’d like more information get in touch via runnymede@nationaltrust.org.uk

The project has been funded by the National Heritage Lottery Fund but the National Trust is still looking to raise an additional £300,000 to bring their vision to life. To find out more or to donate visit their website.

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