Sunday, 7 June 2015

The Wraysbury Magna Carta Flower festival.

 Here's St. Andrew's church in Wraysbury and, no, I haven't suddenly got religion. We're here partly because there you don't get too many chances to see inside these days - it's 11th century.
The bells were ringing out for us in a great peal on a gloriously sunny day.
It was perfect.
But most of all the church is the villiage centre piece for Wraysbury's Magna Carta celebrations. In 1215, the Magna Carta was signed in Wraysbury between 25 barons and the king.
Effectively it was a peace treaty between two opposing armies camped across the river in Runnymede.
 We went in to see 'The Wraysbury Magna Carta Flower Festival' and it was very impressive, not least because all the skills on display wouldn't have been too out of place back in 1215.
So, the path through the churchyard was lined with flower pots made by local schoolchildren and playgroups.
Inside, the church was transformed with flower arrangements;
The shield made of yellow and red flowers in chevrons is the coat of arms of Robert de Montfitchet, one of the 25 barons and also (before the king took away his lands) the owner of Runnymede, Ankerwycke and Wraysbury.
The shields of all the barons were up on the walls;

And a crown for the king (boo!);

And there was even a display sent by a school in Florida;

It's a really nice thing to do although they have got a bit carried away. Robert de Montfitchet not only owned all the lands around here but also the serfs as well; every man women and child.

That meant that he had the right to buy and sell them, to conscript them as soldiers. In short he held their lives in his hands.

None of them could own property or take advantage of the 'rights' set out in the Magna Carta - those were rights for Barons. It took a thousand years of battles before the likes of us won the few rights and freedoms we now have.

Anyway, a couple of years ago about twenty ladies in the village got together and started work on 'The Wraysbury Wall Hanging' to commemorate The Magna Carta; 

It's something really impressive and while the beautiful flowers will wilt, I rather like to think this will be around in another hundred years or even more.

And if you don't believe me how about this banner from 1969;

Made by the evening Women's Institute (my mum used to go to the afternoon W.I. back then) it's lasted 47 years, so a hundred?
Embroidery, scenes, flower arrangements - everything in that church would have had it's place there 800 years ago when the original celebrations wouldn't have been that different.
It was very impressive.
Neil Harris
(a don't stop till you drop production)

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