The Land of Liberty is joining the nation in celebrating 800 years of the Magna Carta next week.
“We will have three commemorative ales on sales from the 15 – 20 June – Downton Brewery’s ‘Get Carta’, XT 1215 and Liberty Ale by Mighty Oak.” says barman Albert Stebbings.
The ‘Land’ has good reason to mark the anniversary – one side of their pub sign shows King John signing the Great Charter of Liberty as agreed by King John on 15 June 1215, a document which became a milestone of individual rights and freedoms.
“As far as we know we have one of the few Magna Carta related pub signs in the country “ adds Albert, “ there is one in Lincoln at the Magna Carta pub, presumably because there is an official copy of the Magna Carta in Lincoln cathedral.”
Local author and Land of Liberty regular Ian Foster has researched the background of the pub’s name and sign
“The Land of Liberty was first recorded as an ale house in the 1830s. The first settlers or Chartists in Heronsgate were expected to be abstainers and thus the ale house was a temptation… It acquired the name Land of Liberty Peace and Plenty because of its proximity to O’ Connorville and the Chartist connections with its aspirations of land of liberty, peace and plenty. It was some time before the Land had a significant sign, Dorothy Haig, naturalist, cartographer and artist painted a local with a foaming pint of beer and happy smile and a rather disconsolate ‘original’ Chartist settler empty handed and looking forlorn. The sign was knocked down by a lorry in the 1970s and a new sign put up in its place commissioned by landlady Vi Cornhill – a painting of the barons and King John signing the Magna Carta in 1215 representing the liberty of the people of Britain was drawn on one side and on the other a Chartist charter being presented to Parliament.”
History taken from Chorleywood, Chenies, Loudwater and Heronsgate, a social history by Ian Foster
The sign was skilfully renovated by local signwriter Bob Stebbings of Village Signs a few years later and remains to this day.
For Magna Carta 800 events in Runnymede and Egham ( 25 min drive from CW) over the anniversary weekend (15/16 June) including a food and wine festival, fireworks, music festival, street theatre, river relay and pageant find details at http://magnacarta800th.com/events/runnymede/