Imagine a time when Barnes was no more than a collection of small farms, a rural enclave a boat ride from the centre of London, where Plantagenet kings reigned and the Archbishop of Canterbury was, of course, a catholic.
Barnes is mentioned in the Domesday book so can date its origins as being before 1086, but it also has a link to another medieval date of huge significance in both British and world history – the signing of the Magna Carta in 1215.
It is said that immediately after the signing of the document Archbishop Steven Langton (who negotiated the historic agreement between King John and his Barons) travelled by boat from Runnymede to Barnes to dedicate the newly enlarged St Mary’s Church.
The 800th anniversary of the signing will be celebrated throughout Britain this year and St Mary’s is marking the occasion with a Magna Carta festival. Between May 20 and 23 the church will be filled with Magna Carta displays including flowers arranged by local groups and schools and hand-painted representations of the Magna Carta Barons’ insignia. The churchyard will be displaying planted pots throughout the festival made by local primary school children. The display also forms part of ‘Barnes In Bloom’. And a spectacular planted design by Ross Alan will be on show by the church porch.
There will be a display of Magna Carta embroidered panels, created by Rhoda Nevins, prior to being displayed by Runnymede Borough Council. Also on display will be a new altar cloth and vestments commissioned for the 800th anniversary, from the prison-based charity Fine Cell Work.
The festival which will be opened by Melvin Bragg will also include talks about the Magna Carta aimed at both adults and children. You can find out more about what’s on by clicking here to download the programme.