Jolly Olde England, Salisbury Cathedral and Stonehenge!

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May 20th 2016
Published: May 25th 2016
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Jolly Olde England, Salisbury Cathedral and Stonehenge!

Tony Hayter, our driver,, picks us up at the docks in Southampton and we are off to Salisbury Cathedral to see the Magna Carta. What the heck is the Magna Carta you may ask? Well… (You can skip this part if you don’t care ;-)

Originally issued by King John of England (r.1199-1216) as a practical solution to the political crisis he faced in 1215, Magna Carta established for the first time the principle that everybody, including the king, was subject to the law. Although nearly a third of the text was deleted or substantially rewritten within ten years, and almost all the clauses have been repealed in modern times, Magna Carta remains a cornerstone of the British constitution. Most of the 63 clauses granted by King John dealt with specific grievances relating to his rule. However, buried within them were a number of fundamental values that both challenged the autocracy of the king and proved highly adaptable in future centuries. Most famously, the 39th clause gave all ‘free men’ the right to justice and a fair trial. Some of Magna Carta’s core principles are echoed in the United States Bill of Rights (1791) and in many other constitutional documents around the world, as well as in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) and the European Convention on Human Rights (1950).

The cathedral itself is one of the prettiest we have seen (and we’ve seen a lot ;-). Very imposing and beautiful with incredible history, and the original of the Magna Carta (one of only four remaining out of 20 original copies). It is displayed under a tent in the cathedral. The writing was teeny tiny and almost illegible and we were told it was written in ancient Latin. Around the room, outside the tent were translations and highlights of the document. When King John was pressed by the nobles in his realm for changes to the taxation system levied upon them, he granted certain freedoms and the Magna Carta outlines them. From the story we heard, he really had no intention of honoring them all, but signed the document anyway, and this is the basis for English law, and consequently some of the laws in the US as well.

There was an art exhibition on the grounds of the cathedral displaying whimsical animals in the form of humans. They were huge and made out of tons and tons of wire. They were beautiful but strange. We hated to leave but… On our way to the cathedral we passed through a forest with wild ponies. The story of the ponies is really similar to that of the Chincoteague ponies of Virginia. Ponies that roam wild. Lovely to see. If you haven’t read Misty of Chincoteague, put it on your reading list and get out the Kleenex ;-)

Now, back in the car, we are off to Stonehenge…we had seen Stonehenge before but Sharon and Dave had not. A lot has changed since we were here 6 years ago. There is a new, large modern, visitor center and you now need to ride a shuttle to the “stones” as the locals call them. The weather was good so we enjoyed an hour of wandering around them. Within a few miles of the “stones”, there are lots of gigantic burial mounds which are clearly evident as we look around the green and rolling countryside. We understand some of these mounds hold keys to the history of the Stonehenge, and we will look forward to reading of the x-ray efforts to determine what might be underneath the burial mounds. The “stones” are gigantic and no one really knows how the “ancients” really got them here. They are aligned to the winter and summer solstice and just fascinating to contemplate here on the plains all by themselves.

Tony found us a place for lunch at a pub, The Boot Inn, which was a real treat. This was a small pub in the village of Wiltshire, run by Giles and Cathy Dickinson. During our lunch of fish and chips and other assorted yummies, Tony shared stories about how his successful cruise terminal transport business grew. We could have sat there all afternoon, as families came and went, laughing and visiting.

By the time we left it was after two and there was a 3 hour journey into London, but in Tony’s Mercedes passenger van we were comfy while he drove. Next stop: London.

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25th May 2016

That would be cool to see an original Magna Carta. I was at Stonehenge by myself in 2000 and I remember lying in the grass at the outer rim of the stones and looking at the sky- it's such a mystical place.

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