A series of events have been held to mark a village’s connections with the sealing of the Magna Carta 800 years ago.
Villagers in Long Crendon only realised its significance with the event two years ago, when they were contacted by the Magna Carta Baron’s Assocation.
They learned that William Marshal, the Lord of the Manor in Crendon at that time. and his son, were heavily involved with the creation of the iconic document.
The father, who supported King John was widely known as ‘the Greatest Knight in Christendom’ and his son was one of the rebel barons.
This gave rise to the idea to celebrate the connection with a medieval themed gala which featured a special pageant, horse jousting, and a street party.
Despite the wet weather on Saturday June 13 a thousand people enjoyed the spectacle of live Knights jousting on horseback, falconry and archery.
There were also more traditional fete type stalls such as village stocks, a coconut shy and skittles, along with rope making skills and shield decorating organised by the local scouts, and hobby horse jousting and face painting organised by the preschool.
Visitors could also enjoy a special 1215 beer created by the local XT Brewery, that nearly a thousand people still came out to support the event on the village recreation ground.
The other main attraction was the two part pageant, specially written by villager Andrew Ormanroyd, and performed by other Long Crendon residents, many of whom had previously acted in the village’s mystery plays in the past.
Mr Ormanroyd said: “When I volunteered to write a pageant for the Magna Carta celebrations I had little idea what a fascinating era of political intrigue and chivalric prowess I was about to delve into - an era so clearly encapsulated in the life of William Marshal,
“My research revealed a man of great integrity and courage who rose from relatively humble origins to become one of the most influential men of the late 12th and early 13th century.
“The challenge in attempting to portray such a long and eventful life in a short play, has been daunting, so we are delighted that our dramatic offering has been so well received and that people enjoyed seeing our village’s most famous ancestor being brought to life.”
The guest speaker at the event was Buckingham MP, John Bercow, who, with his role as Speaker in the House of Commons, was able to comment on the continued significance of the Magna Carta to the House of Parliament and the British legal system today.
John Hooper, the chair of the organising committee for the weekend’s events said: “We are very proud of Long Crendon’s association with this important piece of history, and such a great man.
“And we are thrilled with how everyone in the village has engaged with the celebrations in so many different ways.”
The a celebrations continued into the evening with a barn dance in the village centre while on Sunday special services were held in both the parish church of St Mary’s and the baptist church, followed by a special peal of bells at midday and then an afternoon LiberTea street party.
In addition to the weekend activities the children at Long Crendon school and members of the Preservation Society enjoyed special talks, to learn about the history right on their doorstep, and a team of local ladies spent many hundreds of hours creating a cross-stitch embroidery which will be a lasting commemoration.
The events were organised by Long Crendon’s Preservation Society on behalf of the parish council and supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Magna Carta 800th Anniversary Committee.
Long Crendon has also received a replica of the original Magna Carta, which is to go on display in the village library, and a small garden of special ‘Magna Charta’ roses has been planted in the middle of the village which will be completed in the autumn with the addition of an oak sapling, currently being grown from grafts taken from a ‘King John’ oak tree thought to have been alive 800 years ago.
The Magna Carta, which is Latin for “the Great Charter was a written agreement from the monarch to safeguard the rights, privileges and liberties of the clergy and the nobles – and it was sealed by King John of England at Runnymede, near Windsor, on June 15 1215.
For more information on the weekend’s events and the village’s historical links with the Magna Carta visit www.longcrendonmagnacarta.com.