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Odiham: Magna Carta Festival

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The Odiham Magna Carta Festival Weekend is a community project led by the Odiham Society with which we intend to mark this seminal moment in our villages’ history.

The celebrations are planned for 22nd –25th May 2015 and will involve the entire community, local organisations and schools, and of course visitors will be most welcome to join in, learn and enjoy.

Planned activities include:

  • Choral concert in All Saints’ Church featuring the first public performance of a specially commissioned Magna Carta Anthem
  • Flower festival
  • Art festival
  • Medieval market
  • Boat rally & canal trips on the Basingstoke Canal
  • Guided walks around King John’s Castle
  • Hog Roast
  • Archaeological dig
  • Clog & Morris dancing
  • Medieval ale festival
  • Archery contest

On 6th June 2015 a walking event will recreate King John’s journey from Odiham to Runnymede, using the Basingstoke Canal towpath and ending in a picnic beside the Thames. Sequential bell ringing on 14 June 2015 will begin at Odiham with successive towers along the way joining in until bells are ringing all the way to Wraysbury, Windsor and Runnymede.


The Odiham Embroidery

A principal focal point of our plans is the Odiham Embroidery. The design for this magnificent embroidered panel depicting key events in Odiham’s rich history was officially unveiled in March, and stitching is now well under way by around 70 volunteers from the local community. It is likely to take around 18 months to complete.

The complex embroidery, designed by Odiham-based artist Mary Turner, depicts 800 years of local history from the time of Magna Carta and reflects the history of England as it was played out in our parish. It features King John and the barons setting off for Windsor and Runnymede, visits by both Queen Elizabeth I and II, the meeting in Odiham that led to the founding of the veterinary profession in Britain, French prisoners of war held on parole at Odiham and North Warnborough during the Napoleonic war, and the great heavyweight boxing match between Mendoza and Humphreys in 1788 – among many other scenes. Eleanor de Montfort, King John’s daughter, is also shown, along with her husband Simon de Montfort who returned to join her at Odiham Castle following the first Parliament with elected representatives in 1265.

The panel has been divided into individual parts that are being worked on separately by volunteer stitchers. Once completed, all the parts will be stitched on to the main canvas to complete the design.

Considerable research and planning has gone into the project. It is being stitched in traditional materials and techniques that have been recommended by the Royal School of Needlework at Hampton Court and the National Needlework Archive in Newbury.

The embroidery will be finished and framed in time to be unveiled at the Odiham Magna Carta Festival on 23 May 2015.

For more information, please contact  John Champion (Chair, Odiham Society)  [email protected]