In June 1215, King John met his barons in this field, 3 miles southeast of Windsor; over the following days they hammered out an agreement on a basic charter of rights guaranteeing the liberties of the king's subjects and restricting the monarch's absolute power. The document they signed was the Magna Carta, the world's first constitution. Today the field remains much as it was, yet adorned with several modern-day memorials and two 1929 lodges, designed by Edwin Lutyens.
The Magna Carta formed the basis for statutes and charters throughout the world's democracies. Both the national and state constitutions of the USA, drawn up more than 500 years later, paraphrase it. To recognise its importance, the American Bar Association erected the Memorial to Magna Carta here in 1957 in the style of a Greek temple, across the field from the car park. A short uphill path nearby leads to the 1965 President John F Kennedy Memorial , which sits between trees on an acre of land gifted to the US. In the middle of the main field stands The Jurors , a 12-bronze-chair memorial honouring the Magna Carta's 800th anniversary (2015).
After stomping through the muddy field to these three memorials, it's possible to continue uphill on a 1.5-mile loop track to the moving Commonwealth Airforces Memorial , where the names of 20,000 WWII airmen without graves from the UK, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, India and South Africa are inscribed.
Bus 71 from Windsor (£4.20, 10 minutes) stops 0.5 miles northwest of Runnymede, on Windsor Rd (A308).