Villagers ready for Magna Carta fever

Clare's Magna Carta festival at the country park will feature medieval reeanactments ANL-150306-135727001

Clare's Magna Carta festival at the country park will feature medieval reeanactments ANL-150306-135727001

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Two villages with historic links to the Magna Carta are readying themselves for major celebrations to make 800 years since the historic document was signed by King John.

Clare and Castle Hedingham both have action-packed weekends organised as part of the celebrations including banquets, parades and reenactments.

Two de Clares were on the Committee of 25 who sealed the document in 1215.

The elder, Richard de Clare, was Earl of Clare and also Earl of Hertford while his son Gilbert de Clare, was Earl of Clare, Earl of Hertford and Earl of Gloucester.

Immensely rich with properties in as many as 23 English counties, the de Clares were two of a number of nobles that were unhappy with King John, forcing him to sign the document, which brought historic change, including the introduction of the right to trial by jury.

To celebrate this link a series of events have been organised in the town.

On Saturday there is a study day at Stour Valley Community School, while the Tastes of 1215 and medieval banquets have both sold out. The main event will be the country park festival on Saturday, June 13.

This will begin with a procession including 100 pupils from local schools, leading from the town centre across to Clare Castle Country Park.

The park will provide the backdrop for an afternoon of festivities with marquees displaying 13th Century arts and crafts and a medieval re-enactment group providing military displays.

Local organisations are being invited to run stalls to raise funds for their own groups and these will include herbs and plant sales, raffles and draws, while games are also being arranged for both adults and children, designed with a 13th Century twist.

After more than a year of hard work Keith Haisman, one of the organising committee, said the team was ready for its hard work to come to fruition.

“The only thing we can’t control is the weather,” he said. “I think it’s going to be a really good event, we are really looking forward to it.”

He hopes the festival will bring new visitors to the town and boost its tourism trade.

It is also hoped the festival will provide a legacy, with further events to be held at the country park in future years.

For more information visit www.magnacartafestival.org/.

To commemorate the close involvement of rebel baron, Robert de Vere, third Earl of Oxford and Lord of Hedingham Castle, the castle will be staging its own day full of history, rebellion and battles on Sunday, June 14.

There will be knights will be on horseback, close quarter fighting and excommunication, while the inner bailey surrounding the castle will be a medieval camp-site.

There also a number of events taking place in the village.

Visit www.castlehedingham.org/events to find out more.