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Kennedy Memorial

A Grade II Listed Building in Runnymede, Surrey

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Latitude: 51.4453 / 51°26'42"N

Longitude: -0.5685 / 0°34'6"W

OS Eastings: 499580

OS Northings: 172778

OS Grid: SU995727

Mapcode National: GBR F91.742

Mapcode Global: VHFTH.3X9Y

Entry Name: Kennedy Memorial

Listing Date: 15 April 1998

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1031592

English Heritage Legacy ID: 469101

Location: Runnymede, Surrey, TW20

County: Surrey

District: Runnymede

Town: Runnymede

Electoral Ward/Division: Englefield Green West

Built-Up Area: Wraysbury

Traditional County: Surrey

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Surrey

Church of England Parish: Englefield Green

Church of England Diocese: Guildford

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Memorial to President John F Kennedy (1917-63). 1964-5 by Sir Geoffrey Jellicoe.


Memorial to President John F Kennedy (1917-63). 1964-5 by Geoffrey Jellicoe. Portland stone, 10 ft wide and 5 ft wide floating on a cyma-moulded granite base. The stone is imperceptibly curved in all directions to counter optical illusion. It weighs seven tons and was carved from a fourteen ton block. It is inscribed ' THIS ACRE OF ENGLISH GROUND WAS GIVEN TO THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA BY THE PEOPLE OF BRITAIN IN MEMORY OF JOHN F KENNEDY, BORN 29 MAY 1917: PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES 1961-63: DIED BY AN ASSASSIN'S HAND 22 NOVEMBER 1963: "Let every nation know whether it wishes us well or ill that we shall pay any price bear any burden meet any hardship support any friend or oppose any foe in order to assure the survival and success of liberty" - from the inaugural address of President Kennedy 10 January 1961'. Two stone seats by Jellicoe are set a short distance away in the side of the hill.

This list entry was subject to a Minor Amendment on 12/06/2015


Soon after Kennedy's assassination the British Government gave the land at Runnymede to the United States as a tribute, on which was built a memorial commemorating the life of the President. The memorial is representative of the trend from the 1960s towards simple slabs with beautifully carved lettering. But this example is more, demonstrating the perfect integration of architecture with landscape that makes this the consummation of Jellicoe's development as an architect turned landscape designer and perhaps his most intense work. He wrote that he had based his ideas on John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress, and that the piece is intended to be seen as a point in a journey thorugh the landscape. The stone must be seen as an element in this progression, which begins in the Runnymede meadows, then climbs a path of granite setts through the woods, and up a shallow stone stairway to the memorial. Behind the memorial stone is an American scarlet oak, which turns red in November, the month of Kennedy's death. The sequence continues as a paved walk or 'Jacob's ladder' leading to a pair of stone seats designed by Jellicoe set into the hillside at a point where he lets a view through the trees to the river and beyond. The two seats are placed unequally in a relationship Jellicoe calls 'familial' and in one drawing are marked as 'president' and 'consort'. The concept anticipates Jellicoe's later work at Sutton Place (partially destroyed).

Magna Carta, which means ‘Great Charter’, was sealed at Runnymede on 15th June 1215. This was an agreement between King John and his barons and clergy which, for the first time, made the monarch subject to the laws of the land. It also gave free men the right to justice and a fair trial. Over the subsequent 800 years it has influenced many constitutional documents including the United States’ Bill of Rights.

Runnymede today is a memorial landscape to the on-going struggle for democracy and liberty.

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