The year 1788 marked the 100th anniversary of the Glorious Revolution. For 18th-century Whigs, that event had heralded a new era in the history of English liberty, comparable with the granting of Magna Carta, since it replaced Stuart absolutism with a new monarchy that was considered to be more responsive to Parliament. To celebrate this centenary, the followers of the statesman, Charles James Fox (1749–1806), proposed that a column dedicated to the Glorious Revolution should be constructed at Runnymede. Although some £1300 was immediately subscribed to fund this scheme, the enthusiasm for it quickly dissipated, leaving this plan as the only material legacy. Drawn by William Thomas, it depicts King William III (r. 1689–1702) atop an enormous Doric column. On the pedestal a lion and unicorn flank two seated female figures; some scale is provided by the drawings of visitors to the monument, standing at its base.
- Article by:
- Alex Lock
Dr Alexander Lock discusses Magna Carta’s relationship to parliamentary reform and to radicals fighting oppressive government. Find out how this medieval peace settlement was reinvented as a potent symbol of liberty and justice.