Monday, 15 June 2015

A Day in Runnymede - Photo Scavenger Hunt

Today is the 800th Anniversary of the signing of Magna Carta. The official celebrations started with a River Pageant yesterday, and the Queen will visit Runnymede today. I was there on Saturday, and although preparations for the events were in progress and the security presence was obvious, it was possible to wander the site freely.

I had high hopes of knocking off a few of the photos from Rinda's Summertime Photography Scavenger Hunt during my visit and I was not disappointed. I got my first photo, a person walking a dog, (no. 3 on the list) within moments of leaving the car park.

There are several waymarked routes around the site and I combined two of them for a walk that took in all the memorials and a stretch of the river. 

The most obvious event preparations for the Queen's visit were the rehearsals and sound checks on a stage in the middle of the meadow, a stage surrounded by tents (no. 9).

Going around this area, I had my first opportunity for a photo of at least two people wearing matching outfits or uniforms (no. 17) as I passed a pair of police officers on patrol.

Then I reached the Kennedy Memorial, sited on an acre of land which was given to the American people by the British in 1965. The 50 steps through the woods form part of the memorial and represent the 50 States. 

The memorial stone at the top is inscribed with words from President Kennedy's inaugural address in 1961, and lies in front of an American Scarlet Oak tree whose foliage turns red in November.

Returning to the meadow, I passed another link to our American cousins, an oak tree which was planted with soil from Jamestown, Virginia to commemorate the bicentenary of the US Constitution, which has its roots in Magna Carta.

A little further along I reached the Magna Carta Memorial itself, complete with architectural columns (no.5).

The third memorial that I wanted to visit was the Commonwealth Air Forces Memorial, which was built on the hill above Runnymede. A path runs up through Cooper's Hill Coppice, with steps in the steeper parts.

An outdoor stairway? No that was the 2012 hunt!
The path crosses below the back of the memorial,

before dipping back into the woods and taking you to the road that leads to the front.

The memorial is dedicated to the 20,456 men and women from British Empire air forces who were lost during World War II and who have no known grave. Their names are engraved on dozens of panels  around a central square.

More architectural columns
I was surprised by the number of tributes to the fallen airmen that have been left here. Many of the panels have poppies stuck next to certain names, and cards, flowers and photographs line the benches, including this bouquet (no. 1 on the list).

I climbed the spiral staircase up to the roof, for the panoramic view (no. 16) of Runnymede below me.

I descended back to the meadow, and crossed to Langham Pond, a natural body of water (no. 20) formed as an ox-bow lake from the River Thames.

On the other side of the meadow, I looked back at the rural landscape (darn, that was last year)

and crossed the main road to get to the River Thames, another natural body of water.

At this point, I should have turned left along the river bank to complete my circular walk but, with time to kill, I turned right and wandered towards Runnymede Pleasure Grounds instead. This was definitely a good decision as far as the Scavenger Hunt is concerned because I immediately passed a group of people eating outside (Alternative A). Luckily they all had their backs to the path, or I don't think I would have taken their photo.

The River Pageant will pass along here, and they are clearly expecting crowds of people, who will need to answer the call of nature during the day. I'm hoping that there were plans to erect steps for these public toilets (no. 12) before the big event.

A little further on, I spied my ticket booth (no. 19) too.

I retraced my steps, which took me back past a brand new statue of Queen Elizabeth II, due to be 'unveiled' as part of the Magna Carta commemorations. It had its own security guard, and he stopped me from taking a photo as I passed it the first time, but this time he was talking to someone else, and I was standing behind a tree. Naughty I know, but I couldn't resist a sneaky pic.

I'm sure I can't have been the only one though, and if they really didn't want people to take pictures they should have covered her up.

Back to my planned walk now, as I followed the Thames to complete the circle to the car park. There I visited an exhibition about the importance of Magna Carta, both at the time, and through the principles of freedom and equality that it has come to represent.

Facsimile of Magna Carta
The estate office and tea room at Runnymede are memorials too. The Fairhaven Memorial Lodges were commissioned by Lady Fairhaven to remember her husband Sir Urban Broughton, who bought Runnymede in 1928 to safeguard its future.

They lie one on each side of the main road, with a pedestrian crossing between them, perfect opportunity for a photo of a traffic signal (no. 14). I did check the lodges for a nice ornate door knocker, but no such luck!

However, while photographing the lodges, who should I notice approaching but another three people wearing matching uniforms. Three police officers are better than two, so I snapped another picture for the hunt.

My final photo was another repeat - one of the security officers with his sniffer dog, patrolling the perimeter fences.

So on the thirteenth day of the Summertime Photography Scavenger Hunt, I knocked off 10 of the 21 items, and one of the alternatives too. I don't know how many of these photos will make it into my final list come September, but it was a good day's hunting.


  1. a fantastic place to visit with all that history, great that you could tick so many photos off the hunt too!

  2. Such a great number of items ticked off the list. Well done :)
    And I love the 'rural landscape' reference :)

  3. I've really enjoyed seeing the photos and hearing all about it....I must pay a visit.

  4. wow- great blog post with the story and all the photos! You are half-way done your scavenger hunt already!

  5. You did well with the scavenger hunt!!..fab photos :)

  6. Fantastic job! What an enchanting ticket booth.