Runnymede “Festival For Democracy” ends under the Ankerwycke Yew tree with call for citizen-led constitutional convention

Images copyright Drew McFadyen:


  • Eco-village to appeal to High Court after judge grants luxury property developer eviction order

Runnymede “Festival For Democracy” [1] ended on Monday evening under the 2,500 year old Ankerwycke Yew tree where the Magna Carta was sealed 800 years ago to the day. Participants called out the official celebrations as “hollow” and “hypocritical” and called instead for a citizen-led constitutional convention to create a new constitution that is written by and for the people.

At Ankerwycke people shared examples of charters that could help refresh and upgrade our democracy [2]. Julie Timbrell a spokeperson for New Putney Debates – one of the organising groups along with supporters of Occupy Democracy and the members of the Runnymede Eco-village community – said:

“We need a new constitution or charter that protects our ecological commonwealth, one that enables us to share our common resources fairly, and sustain both ourselves and generations to come.”

“Today, rather than go to the concrete monument built by the Americans, we chartered a ferry and crossed to the the other side of the river to gather under the 2500 year-old Ankerwycke tree, where the charter was actually sealed 800 years ago. This spot is hardly marked. Just as we have forgotten the Magna Carta‘s companion Charter of the Forest, we have also forgotten our heritage and connection with ancient sacred trees that our ancestors venerated, and the truth that it is ultimately nature, not money, that sustains all life.”


The “Festival For Democracy” continued for four days as planned despite the authorities’ attempts to shut it down and large numbers of people being turned away by the police on dubious legal grounds [1].

Julie continued: “Over the last few days Officers of the Crown have over-reached their powers by routinely turning people away from a peaceful pro-democracy festival in an interference with our right to assemble proving that the abuse of arbitrary power is not something that happened only in mediaeval times.”


Eco-village to appeal to High Court after judge grants luxury property developer eviction order

At the hearing at Guildford Law Courts on Monday the judge ignored the Eco-villagers defence and gave a possession order to Orchid Runnymede Limited a company registered offshore who seem to be acting on behalf of luxury property developers Art Estates [1] [3].

One of the defendants, Phoenix Rainbow said: 

“Today on the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta we saw a travesty of justice. The judge in the case completely ignored the arguments we put forward relating to our rights under the Magna Carter and Charter of the Forest. He failed to even mention the phrase “Magna Carta” in his judgement. He did not answer our claim that we have the right to subsist under the Charter of the Forest. When pushed, all he could say was that the Charter was interesting and provided background information. He didn’t answer our common law argument. We will make an appeal to the High Court as soon as possible. We will continue to dig in to raise awareness for the need for disused land to be used to grow food and create off-grid, low-impact homes.”

“We hope that people will follow the example of Runnymede to take back disused land and continue to build the network of eco-villages that are examples of the kind of low-impact living we will need more of in the future. If anyone has any land to donate for an eco-village, please get in touch.”

Anthony Barnett founder of OpenDemocracy [4] and author of This Time: Our Constitutional Referendum who spoke at Ankerwycke said:

“The eco-village is a beautifully inventive, energetic and eccentric, utterly English settlement in a corner of woodland that should should be celebrated not cleansed. It is a grotesque scandal that on the day the high and mighty, queen and premier, gathered at Runnymede meadow to cover themselves in self-congratulation at giving the entire world the rule of law, the law should be used to destroy the woodlands of Runnymede for foreign registered property developers.”

Professor Guy Standing, author of A Precariat Charter said who spoke at the Festival on Saturday said:

“The eco-village in Runnymede represents the latest in a long and distinguished line of occupations of the commons that has marked the defence of common rights from before Magna Carta came into existence. We have to defend the commons from corporate commercialisation. Our common land must be protected for the ordinary folk of this land. Please understand the symbolism of what is at stake.”



[1] For more information see our three previous press releases archived here:

[2] These included the Universal Declaration for the Rights of Mother Earth (Cochabamba 2010), Charter & Principals of the Commons (Commons Rising),  Charter for Freedom from Global Debt Slavery (Global People Power), Charter for a Free and Democratic Press (Occupy The Media) and Internet Rights and Principles Charter (IRPC).



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