Windsor & Eton

Over 800 years ago, in June 1215, King John met his barons in this unassuming field, 3 miles southeast of Windsor. Together they hammered out an agreement on a basic charter of rights that guaranteed the liberties of the king's subjects, and restricted the monarch's absolute power. The document they signed, the Magna Carta, was the world's first constitution. The field remains much as it was, plus a few modern memorials and two 1929 lodges, designed by Edwin Lutyens.

The Magna Carta formed the basis for statutes and charters throughout the world's democracies, and is paraphrased by both the national and state constitutions of the USA. The American Bar Association erected the Memorial to Magna Carta, across the field from the car park and styled to resemble a Greek temple, in 1957. A short uphill path nearby leads to the 1965 President John F Kennedy Memorial, which sits between trees on an acre of land gifted to the US. The main field also holds The Jurors, a 12-bronze-chair memorial that commemorates the Magna Carta's 800th anniversary in 2015.

After stomping through the mud to reach these three memorials, you can continue uphill on a 1.5-mile loop track to the moving Commonwealth Airforces Memorial, inscribed with the names of 20,000 WWII airmen without graves from the UK, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, India and South Africa.

Bus 8 from Windsor (£4.20, 10 minutes) stops half a mile northwest of Runnymede, on Windsor Rd (A308).

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Windsor & Eton attractions

1. Savill Garden

2.02 MILES

Created in the 1930s by Sir Eric Savill in the southern reaches of Windsor Great Park, this pretty 14-hectare garden includes ornamental beds, woodlands…

2. Windsor Great Park

2.69 MILES

Windsor Great Park stretches south from Windsor Castle almost all the way to Ascot, 7 miles southwest. It covers just under 8 sq miles and holds a lake,…

3. Windsor Castle

2.94 MILES

The world’s largest and oldest continuously occupied fortress, Windsor Castle is a majestic vision of battlements and towers. Used for state occasions, it…

4. Eton College

3.49 MILES

Eton College is England’s most famous public – as in, private and fee-paying – boys' school, and arguably the most enduring symbol of the British class…

5. World Rugby Museum

9.84 MILES

This museum at Twickenham Stadium boasts 41,000 items of rugby memorabilia, the most extensive collection in the world. Interactive exhibitions and events…

6. Strawberry Hill

10.11 MILES

With its snow-white walls and Gothic turrets, this fantastical and totally restored 18th-century creation in Twickenham is the work of art historian,…

7. Bushy Park

10.25 MILES

Hampton Court Palace presses up against 445-hectare Bushy Park, a semiwild expanse with herds of red and fallow deer.

8. Hampton Court Palace Maze

10.36 MILES

No one should leave Hampton Court Palace without losing themselves in the 800m-long yew maze, included in entry; those not visiting the palace can enter…