Curiously erected by the American Bar Association

Magna Carta Libertatum (Medieval Latin for “the Great Charter of the Liberties”) [wikipedia] The Magna Carta, signed by King John on June 15, 1215 at Runnymede on the bank of the River Thames curtailed the power of the king and made him subject to the rule of law. He was pressured into signing it to prevent civil war. He was a deeply unpopular king. Great Britain does not have a constitution as Canada and the US have, it has a collection of documents and laws which outline the rights and responsibilities of citizens. Of course in the beginning these liberties were for the nobles, and have gradually come to include women and other “minorities” Not sure how 50% of the population can be a minority, but we certainly were under the law.

Another iteration of the Magna Carta, coming into our lock!

When I was studying Tudor history for my “O” levels, think Owls in the Harry Potter series, Thomas More made a deep impression on me. He advocated for freedom of speech. From In April 1523, he was elected speaker of the House of Commons. His position at court meant that he was to be the king’s advocate before parliament. But to More’s credit, he made an impassioned plea for greater freedom of speech in parliament. Such was his reputation that the the great universities – Oxford and Cambridge – made him high steward.

Sadly it did not prevent Henry VIII from beheading him when he refused to take the Oath of Supremacy confirming the King as the head of the Church of England. Thomas More was a devout Catholic. Henry hounded his Lord Chancellor Wolsey to death and beheaded both More and Cromwell after they had taken the job. It is a wonder that anyone was willing to take it on.

Today, as we cruised up the Thames towards Brentford and the Grand Union Canal we passed Syon House. Ironically it is the house in which Catherine Howard was housed before her execution by Henry VIII for adultery in 1541, but also the house that Henry’s body was lodged on the journey to his funeral in St. George’s Chapel, Windsor. His coffin burst open and dogs were found eating his body. The twists and turns of history.

Coming beside us in the lock

It has made me interested in finding out more about the formation of our constitutional history.

Yesterday we passed Windsor Castle, and you can see from the flag flying that the queen was in residence, it was Good Friday. I think that a plane went over the castle about once every 30 seconds

Windsor Castle and plane

Monarch liked to travel up and down the Thames to get to their castles, and today we passed Hampton Court. Built by Thomas Wolsey, Lord Chancellor of England and a papal Cardinal (talk about divided loyalties) he was bullied into giving it to Henry VIII as he was descending in power. If you have a chance to tour the Tudor kitchens it is worth the price of entry. Until recently it also housed minor royals who had fallen on hard times

Tudor Hampton Court
Georgian Hampton Court and the Magna Carta, again

Not just royals like living beside the Thames. It is a favourite of the 1% as well:

You get the picture

But we did also see more human scale homes for us ordinary folk, and some of them even looked affordable on a regular salary

New definition of a container ship.
Claims to be the worlds friendliest pub for dogs. There was a dog at nearly every table on the patio.

I have thoroughly enjoyed the last few days of cruising down the Thames with my sister Jane. It is wide, so it is difficult to bump into anything and easier to take pictures at the helm. It is a bit faster than the canal because you have to go just a bit faster than the river. The locks are all manned, or womanned, so all we had to do was hold onto the lines as the boat went down into the lock. However, finding a place to moor up was a little bit challenging. You turn in the river so that you are going up stream and hope that the place you saw is actually a mooring spot. One night we became quite grounded. However, we went up a bit and moored outside the above pub. Quite lovely. It was a hot day and we were able to have a meal outside overlooking the river.

Mistletoe not nests in the trees of Windsor Park. It is a parasite.
Delicious blue stilton. 220 grams, less than $3

The difference in prices for commodities between Canada and England are interesting. Here cheese is very cheap, but anything to do with energy, such as gas, electricity, and things that consume a lot of energy are expensive. The laundry is about $10 per load for wash and dry. Food in pubs and restaurants is more expensive, but the wages of the staff reflect the fact that tipping is not expected, and never more than 12%. Taxes are included in the price. So it is easy to see what you are spending. In contrast to Canada where you add 13% tax, and then up to 20% tip to the cost of each item. I think it works out about the same.

Last but not least, Jane and I went to the River and Rowing Museum appropriately situated in Henley on Thames. Part of the museum talked about the flotilla of boats that went to Dunkirk to save the servicemen on the beaches. The following is a quote from the 1600’s that still applies today.