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The start of things to come

Today isEpiphany, or Three Kings’ Day, whichmarks not only the end of the twelve days of Christmas holidays but also the build up to Mardi Gras, when we feed on pancakes covered with lemon and sugar to sustain us for the forty days to the celebrations of Easter. The gifts given by the Magi reflecting our own giving during the festive period. Today, then, is not simply a Tuesday in the first full working week of the year, it is a passing from one celebration to our looking forward to the next. In between, we have the promise of whatever snow might make an appearance in the south this season and then, the loveliness of a new spring as nature reminds us of its beauty, following a long winters rest. Of all the excitements and anticipation of the year ahead, I for one, am trying not to peak too early with too many thoughts given yet to the General Election towards the end of spring. There is so much to enjoy in the months ahead, in many ways it is the best part of the year. Spring officially starts on 20th March and Summer on 21st June but nature doesn't know this and we will have to wait and see. A few weeks before the start of summer, some eight hundred years agoKing John, in the meadow of Runnymede , sealed the document now known as the Magna Carta. Whilst the Great Charter is full ofsuch terms as wainageand distraint. And, some of its chapters appeartrivial, such as one calling for the removal of fish weirs from the Thames. There are also chapters which still have a very clear contemporary relevance. Chapters 12 and 14 prevented the king from levying taxation without the common consent of the kingdom. Chapter 39 stated “No free man is to be arrested, or imprisoned, or diseised, or outlawed, or exiled, or in any way destroyed, nor will we go against him, nor will we send against him, save by the lawful judgement of his peers or by the law of the land.” In chapter 40 the king declared that “To no one will we sell, to no one will we deny or delay, right or justice.” The Magna Carta asserted a fundamental principle – the rule of law. The king was beneath the law, the law the Charter itself was making. He could no longer treat his subjects in an arbitrary fashion. The principles of the charter have been put to use by the opponents who eventually executed Charles I and also bythe founding fathers of the United States. In his 1964 trial, Nelson Mandela appealed to Magna Carta, alongside the Petition of Rights and the Bill of Rights, “documents which are held in veneration by democrats throughout the world”. Chapters 39 and 40 are still on the statute book of our country today. Whilst the feeling following the peasants' revolt of the fourteenth century has been attributed withthe breakdown of the feudal system, the peasants of Bocking in Essex also appealed to Magna Carta in a struggle against their lord’s bailiff. In the 1350s, legislation defined the “no free man” as “no man of whatever condition”. And as the tide turned, whathad worked so well during the early Middle Ages, was now becoming outdated as attitudes were beginning to change. The fundaments of so much of our society can be traced back to this eight hundred year old document, the best kept copy of which is in Salisbury. Although long and in parts irrelevant, the founding principles of this historic charter have kept true and are relied upon to this day. Afterall, in the words of prehaps our greatest Briton“If you have ten thousand regulations you destroy all respect for the law.” Winkworth Salisbury  

Today isEpiphany, or Three Kings’ Day, whichmarks not only the end of the twelve days of Christmas holidays but also the build up to Mardi Gras, when we feed on pancakes covered with lemon and sugar to sustain us for the forty days to the celebrations of Easter. The gifts given by the Magi reflecting our own giving during the festive period.

Today, then, is not simply a Tuesday in the first full working week of the year, it is a passing from one celebration to our looking forward to the next. In between, we have the promise of whatever snow might make an appearance in the south this season and then, the loveliness of a new spring as nature reminds us of its beauty, following a long winters rest.

WINKWORTH_autumn country life

Of all the excitements and anticipation of the year ahead, I for one, am trying not to peak too early with too many thoughts given yet to the General Election towards the end of spring. There is so much to enjoy in the months ahead, in many ways it is the best part of the year.

Spring officially starts on 20th March and Summer on 21st June but nature doesn't know this and we will have to wait and see. A few weeks before the start of summer, some eight hundred years agoKing John, in the meadow of Runnymede , sealed the document now known as the Magna Carta. Whilst the Great Charter is full ofsuch terms as wainageand distraint. And, some of its chapters appeartrivial, such as one calling for the removal of fish weirs from the Thames. There are also chapters which still have a very clear contemporary relevance. Chapters 12 and 14 prevented the king from levying taxation without the common consent of the kingdom. Chapter 39 stated “No free man is to be arrested, or imprisoned, or diseised, or outlawed, or exiled, or in any way destroyed, nor will we go against him, nor will we send against him, save by the lawful judgement of his peers or by the law of the land.” In chapter 40 the king declared that “To no one will we sell, to no one will we deny or delay, right or justice.”

The Magna Carta asserted a fundamental principle – the rule of law. The king was beneath the law, the law the Charter itself was making. He could no longer treat his subjects in an arbitrary fashion.

The principles of the charter have been put to use by the opponents who eventually executed Charles I and also bythe founding fathers of the United States. In his 1964 trial, Nelson Mandela appealed to Magna Carta, alongside the Petition of Rights and the Bill of Rights, “documents which are held in veneration by democrats throughout the world”. Chapters 39 and 40 are still on the statute book of our country today.

Whilst the feeling following the peasants' revolt of the fourteenth century has been attributed withthe breakdown of the feudal system, the peasants of Bocking in Essex also appealed to Magna Carta in a struggle against their lord’s bailiff. In the 1350s, legislation defined the “no free man” as “no man of whatever condition”. And as the tide turned, whathad worked so well during the early Middle Ages, was now becoming outdated as attitudes were beginning to change.

The fundaments of so much of our society can be traced back to this eight hundred year old document, the best kept copy of which is in Salisbury.

Although long and in parts irrelevant, the founding principles of this historic charter have kept true and are relied upon to this day. Afterall, in the words of prehaps our greatest Briton“If you have ten thousand regulations you destroy all respect for the law.”

Winkworth Salisbury

 

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