Sunday, 25 May 2014

The Runnymede Ecovillage - a place for a last stand maybe.


A chance meeting in The Hobgoblin last week led me into an adventure on Monday that helped me forget about my coming appointment down at Oncology the next day.


How beautiful is that view? It’s the view from the front door of the house of some new friends and comrades.

It’s also the view from the wooded escarpment that overlooks the ancient meadows of Runnymede by the banks of the River Thames.

That’s near where The Magna Carta was signed after a confrontation between the armies of the Barons and the army of the King – the start of the long battle for the rights we are still trying to win today.

High above, in the treetops are 'The Diggers 2012' – and they have been there, gloriously, for the last two years.

Here’s their communal kitchen by the front door;

Two years ago they marched from London to sieze some of the Queens lands for the people – they didn’t get where they were going because the police stopped them but they set up camp here.

And here they built their homes;

These are some of the terraced beds for vegetables and the beginning of a geodesic dome. Here are some of the well cared for chickens;


There are ducks too, a spring for water and soon a pig.

They are Diggers, inspired by Robert Winstanley who believed that the land was given by god to us all.

These Diggers of 2012 are secular like me - but they are still seizing unused land and protecting it from the rapacious capitalist developers who are all around.

Here’s one of the ecohouses they have built;


And this charming glade is one of the peaceful communal areas where I was welcomed;

Here are just a few of the homes – dappled in sunlight as it drifted through the treetops.

They have been evicted three times – the land 'belongs' to developers who 'bought' it from the University of London - who should never have sold it in the first place.

From the peace and quiet of the camp, you can hear the developers at work nearby;
As the weeks go by you will see more of the camp on this Blog and maybe they will let me be an occasional visitor – I used to love camping in wild places but I can’t get away to do that anymore.

This would be a last chance for me to spend a night or two under the stars and the trees – and also perhaps a chance of a last confrontation with ‘authority’ too – maybe a good place for a last stand. We will see what happens.

Here are Billy Bragg's lyrics to give you a history of The Diggers;

The World Turned Upside Down

In 1649
To St. George's Hill,
A ragged band they
called the Diggers
Came to show the people's will
They defied the landlords
They defied the laws
They were the
dispossessed reclaiming
what was theirs

We come in peace they said
To dig and sow
We come to work the lands in common
And to make the waste ground grow
This earth divided
We will make whole
So it will be
A common treasury for all

The sin of property
We do disdain
No man has any right
to buy and sell
the earth for private gain
By theft and murder
They took the land
Now everywhere the walls
Spring up at their command

They make the laws
to chain us as well

The clergy dazzle us with heaven
or they damn us into hell
We will not worship
The God they serve
The God of greed who feeds the rich

while poor folk starve

We work we eat together
We need no swords
We will not bow to the masters
Or pay rent to the lords
we are free man
Though we are poor
You Diggers all stand up for glory
Stand up now

From the men of property
The orders came
They sent the hired
men and troopers
To wipe out the Diggers' claim
Tear down their cottages
Destroy their corn
They were dispersed
But still the vision lingers on

You poor take courage
You rich take care
This earth was made a
common treasury
For everyone to share
All things in common
All people one
We came in peace
the orders came to cut us down

Original lyrics by Leon Rosselson.
Click on a picture for a slideshow.

Neil Harris
(a don’t stop till you drop production)

1 comment: