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Published: October 6th 2019
The swans on the Thames as we are leaving Windsor
17 September 2019, Tuesday
Day 16 on Thames Path, Windsor to Chertsey, day 31 of travel.
England. Day 16 on Thames Path
It is a beautiful day as we leave Windsor. The flowers in town are putting on their final show in a burst of pride. We have grand views of the castle, that is providing the distant backdrop, from across the Home Park, an open area that faces the castle
Today the highlights will be found in the meadows of Runnymeade. We find the two Lutyens gatehouses, one containing the Magna Carta Tea Room, and find Norma and Jo, having had their drinks, ready to take off.
We take a break and then head down the meadows. Just over 800 years ago weak King John set his seal on the Magna Carta, "Great Charter." This document was a formal acceptance of the demands of the barons. They were upset with the king as they had funded some military campaigns and the results were not to their liking. The Magna Carta essentially liberated the population from the power of absolute monarchy. These ideas were enshrined in English Law and formed the bedrock of national constitutions around the
The castle from east of Windsor along the Thames Path
First stop is The Jurors. This is a very moving work of art--12 bronze chairs, each decorated with images and symbols relating to past and ongoing struggles for freedom, rule of law and equal rights. The work challenges us to consider the ongoing significance and influences of Magna Carta. The chairs appear to be awaiting a gathering, discussion or debate of some kind; an invitation to discuss issues together, to reflect on the issues the chairs represent.
We next visit the domed classical temple, the Magna Carta Memorial, built at the foot of Cooper's Hill. The memorial was funded by US lawyers and built by the American Bar Association.
In 1965 the John F. Kennedy Memorial was unveiled. It is on a hill overlooking the meadows. An acre of land was given, in perpetuity, to the USA for the memorial. It is a memorial, built of Portland stone, to liberty and nationhood. It is said there are fifty steps going up the hill to the memorial, representing the fifty states. Harlan and I counted steps going up and coming back down but could only get a count of 49!
Sometimes a thought will go
The view of Castle from farther along
into your memory bank and you sense it is there forever. We had noticed a striking African woman with two cute kids in tow. It appeared they were having their own field trip at Runnymeade. She was talking quietly to the two in front of the memorial and the little boy, with a louder voice, perhaps, a six year old, asked the question, "But why did they kill him?" Why indeed.
We climb past the memorial, looking for another portion of the monument, which is hard to locate. Deciding we are on the wrong trail, as we encounter a tractor going by us, we decide to descend. Coming up the path are the threesome. The boy has a stick he is using to walk. We stop to say hello and I ask him if he would like to see one of my sticks. They are collapsible and he is duly impressed, as am I when I realize what a difference one of those sticks make! We chat a few minutes. They are from Zimbabwe. I think from what a different background the mother is viewing the memorial. Just that week Mugabe, the ancient president of her country, had died.
Our path diverts from the river along this stuble field to Victoria bridge where we cross to the opposite bank
What a totally different form of government and restrictions she has experienced. In one of those strange coincidences I am walking with Wendy, the Toronto botanist, several days later and find out that she, too, had a conversation on the hill with this threesome.
We pass a camper park with a lovely statue of a young Queen Elizabeth II.
It is now a pleasant walk into Chertsy. We pass Staines with several interesting markers. Staines has been a river crossing point since Roman times and it was the gathering point for the barons before their historic meeting with King John at Runnymeade.
We arrive at Chertsey to find our hotel is still about a mile walk from the river. Have a good dinner in the pub bar and restaurant of BBQ ribs.
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