Royal Wootton Basset Town Guide 2015 - page 9

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Royal Wootton Bassett - a Magna Carta town
King John I ascended to the throne of England in 1199 and his reign brought
ever-increasing taxes and war to the country, both at home and abroad.
King John continued in his over-taxation and refusal to listen to the growing discontent of
England’s nobles, including Alan Basset, Lord of the Manor of Wootton Bassett, High Sheriff
of Oxfordshire and Constable of Oxford Castle. In the spring of 1215 civil war broke out.
‘The Great Charter’, known by its Latin name of Magna Carta was drawn up following
an uprising which led to King John being compelled to negotiate. Drafted by the
Archbishop of Canterbury, a committee of nobles, leading churchmen and citizens,
John affixed the royal seal and signed the Magna Carta at Runnymede beside the
Thames between Staines and Windsor on 15th June, 1215.
Some of the 63 rights and freedoms won that day included that no
man shall be taken or unlawfully imprisoned, no taxes shall be raised
without the consent of parliament and no man shall be denied a fair
trial. Most of the clauses of the Magna Carta have been rewritten or
revoked since its creation. However, this important document was the
foundation of political reform in its time and remains so to this day.
John’s son and heir, King Henry III, granted Alan Basset the right to hold
a weekly market on Fridays on the 19th January 1219, by Royal Charter.
This tradition is still followed in Royal Wootton Bassett and you will find a market on our
High Street every Wednesday and a Farmers’ Market on the fourth Saturday of each month.
Owen Collier
Worth a visit ...
Royal Wootton Bassett Museum
High Street, Royal Wootton Bassett 01793 852656. Situated in the half-timbered 17th
century Town Hall, the museum contains an extensive photographic record of Wootton
Bassett life in the 19th & 20th centuries. Open Wednesdays and Saturdays, 10am-noon.
Closed on Wednesdays in December and January.
Jubilee Lake
Jubilee Lake provides a natural haven for wildlife including a variety of birds,
butterflies and ancient trees. Just a short distance out of town, the lake is a popular
spot for walkers and anglers.
Car parking and public toilets are available along with a children’s play area and Tea
Rooms (open from May – October). Special Jubilee Lake Nature Trail quiz leaflets can
be found at the Town Council office at 117 High Street.
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