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Runnymede Eco-Village was founded in 2012 by a group of land activists known as the Diggers. They modelled themselves after Gerald Winstanley and the 1649 Diggers who had attempted to settle open, free, self-sustaining communities on the common lands of Britain during the English Civil War, but who were eventually defeated by Cromwell and his men after a year of increasingly brutal oppression. Like the 1649 Diggers, the Diggers of 2012 hoped to spark a land reform revolution and return to people their right to live freely on the land, to grow their own food and to build their own home.

The 2012 Diggers formed of a convergence between activists from the fragmented Occupy movement and former residents of the evicted Kew Bridge Eco-Community. They met at Syon Lane community allotment and began a walk down the Thames River to settle a piece of land and create a new eco-community. They had intended to squat Crown land in Windsor, but were stopped from entering Berkshire by police as they passed beneath the hills of Runnymede. After squatting and being moved on from several pieces of land, the group came upon and settled the disused former Brunel University campus, creating Runnymede Eco-Village.

Despite eviction threats and an on going legal process to remove the community from the land, the village has remained and will soon mark its third year anniversary on the 11th of June, 2015.

Art Estate Begins Process To Evict Runnymede Eco-Village

Art Estate Begins Process To Evict Runnymede Eco-Village

After informing the community the day before, Art Estates begins proceedings to remove the residents of Runnymede Eco-Village.

A court hearing has been scheduled for the 9th April in which the fate of the site will be decided.

Ex-Brunel Campus Squatted, Runnymede Eco-Village Born

Ex-Brunel Campus Squatted, Runnymede Eco-Village Born

After being moved on from several sites, the Diggers discover and settle in a disused woodland on the hillside overlooking the Magna Carta memorial, the Thames River and the City of London. Work begins on what will become Runnymede Eco-Village.

The site, once a campus for Brunel University, was sold in 2007 to Oracle Group and then in 2011 to Orchid who plan to develop the site. It extends to 67 acres (27 hectares) and is adjacent to the village of Englefield Green, lying north-west of Egham Town Centre.

Diggers Stopped By Police From Squatting Windsor

Diggers Stopped By Police From Squatting Windsor

From the moment the Diggers set out from Syon Lane, they were tailed and followed by the police, photographed and generally harrassed in a passive aggressive manner. The crown estate took out an injuction on ALL of the crown land in the whole of Windsor which, although a civil matter, would have made the process of having us removed by bailiffs or being arrested much quicker if the attempt on crown land was pursued. The Diggers settled on the banks of the Thames near the Magna Carta Memorial.

Diggers Meet at Syon Lane and Walk out to Windsor

Diggers Meet at Syon Lane and Walk out to Windsor

The Diggers, inspired by Gerald Winstanley, met at Syon Lane and began the 10 mile march to Windsor with the intention of occupying disused land on the Crown Estate in Windsor and using the land to grow food and cultivate lives reconnected in nature.

A Declaration from the Dispossessed

A Declaration from the Dispossessed

We: peaceful people, declare our intention to go and cultivate the disused land of this island; to build dwellings and live together in common by the sweat of our brows.

We have one call:  every person in this country and the world should have the right to live on the disused land, to grow food and to build a shelter. This right should apply whether you have money or not. We say that no country can be considered free, until this right is available to all.

With our current system in crisis we need a radically different way of growing our communities. We call on the government and all landowners to let those who are willing, make good use of the disused land. Land that is currently held from us by force.  By our actions, we seek to show how we can live without destroying the planet or ourselves. Free from the yoke of debt and rent, our labors can be directed to the benefit of all.

Though we may be oppressed for our actions, we will strive to remain peaceful. But we are committed to our cause and will not cease from our efforts until we have achieved our goal.

Gerald Winstanley and the 1649 Diggers

Gerald Winstanley and the 1649 Diggers

In 1649, Winstanley and his followers took over vacant or common lands in Surrey, Buckinghamshire, Kent, and Northamptonshire and began cultivating the land and distributing the crops without charge to their followers. Local landowners took fright from the Diggers’ activities and in 1650 sent hired thugs to beat the Diggers and destroy their colony. Winstanley protested to the government, but to no avail, and the colony was abandoned.

After the failure of the Digger experiment in Surrey in 1650 Winstanley temporarily fled to Pirton, Hertfordshire, where he took up employment as an estate steward for the mystic aristocrat Lady Eleanor Davies. This employment lasted less than a year after Davies accused Winstanley of mismanaging her property and Winstanley returned to Cobham.

Winstanley continued to advocate the redistribution of land. In 1652 he published another pamphlet called The Law of Freedom in a Platform, in which he argued that the Christian basis for society is where property and wages are abolished. In keeping with Winstanley’s adherence to biblical models, the tract envisages a communistic society structured on patriarchal lines.

From Wikipedia

Magna Carta Sealed

Magna Carta Sealed

John met the rebel leaders at Runnymede, near both the royal fortress of Windsor Castle and the rebel base at Staines, on 10 June 1215, where they presented him with their draft demands for reform, the “Articles of the Barons”. Stephen Langton’s pragmatic efforts at mediation over the next ten days turned these incomplete demands into a charter capturing the proposed peace agreement; a few years later, this agreement was renamed Magna Carta, meaning “Great Charter”. By 15 June, general agreement had been made on a text, and on 19 June, the rebels renewed their oaths of loyalty to John and copies of the charter were formally issued.

From Wikipedia