Thousands turn out for Magna Carta celebrations

Magna Carta Festival at Clare Country Park. Medieval family, Jenny, Lee, Sam (7) and Joseph (4) Doherty. ANL-150614-164847009
Magna Carta Festival at Clare Country Park. Medieval family, Jenny, Lee, Sam (7) and Joseph (4) Doherty. ANL-150614-164847009

Despite less than inviting weather conditions the crowds still turned out to see two villages mark the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta.

Clare and Castle Hedingham both have closely connected histories to the famous document, with Richard de Clare, Earl of Clare, and his son Gilbert de Clare along with Robert de Vere, Earl of Oxford who lived in Hedingham Castle, among the twenty-five barons who in 1215 forced King John to seal Magna Carta in Runnymede after growing dissatisfaction with his rule.

In Clare heavy rain on the Saturday morning threatened to put a dampener on nearly two years worth of preparations, but the procession started on time with 150 school children part of the grand cavalcade from the town centre to Clare Castle Country Park where the festival was held.

Spectators lined the streets before heading to the festival where 2,500 people enjoyed the medieval reenactments and the many craft stalls and stands run by local community groups promoting their activities and raising funds.

Keith Haisman, a member of the organising committee, was delighted with the turnout and how smoothly the day ran.

He said: “Everyone had a great time. I am really pleased with the number of community groups that stepped up.”

These groups will be in line for a share of any profits made from the different events that have been run in the last few weeks.

At Hedingham Castle a number of reenactments took place on the Sunday, recreating the events at Runnymede and medieval battle scenes.

Simon Orr general manager at the castle said despite the weather the event was a great success. “It was really good, we had four different reenactment groups and had lots of things going on,” he said.

“There was a lot of excitement, it was not just a history lesson. The inner bailey looked fantastic with all the tents and the arena.”

Mr Orr admitted the weather had seen expected visitor numbers drop but said the 750 spectators that did arrive were full of praise.