The Kennedy Memorial, Runnymede, 1965

The Kennedy Memorial, Runnymede, 1965

This memorial is situated in three acres of meadow and woodland, opposite Magna Carta Island, Runnymede, Egham. It was erected to honour the memory of President John F. Kennedy who was assassinated in 1963. Designed by the architect G.A. Jellicoe C.B.E., the centerpiece is a seven-ton block of Portland stone, carved with the dates of the President’s life and a quotation from the Declaration of Freedom contained in his inaugural address of the 20th January, 1961. The inscription reads:

“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”.

The unveiling of the Kennedy Memorial, Runnymede, featuring from left to right: HRH Queen Elizabeth II, John Kennedy Junior, Mrs Jacqueline Kennedy, Caroline Kennedy, Bobby Kennedy and Ted Kennedy. 14th May 1965

The unveiling of the Kennedy Memorial, Runnymede, featuring from left to right: HRH Queen Elizabeth II, John Kennedy Junior, Mrs Jacqueline Kennedy, Caroline Kennedy, Bobby Kennedy and Ted Kennedy. 14th May 1965
On loan from the Oliver Trust
©: United Press International (UK) Ltd.

The memorial stone is accessed through a gate from the fields of Runnymede, at the end of a pathway and steps of irregular granite setts rising steeply through the woodland. The central stone plinth was unveiled by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on the 14th May 1965 in the presence of Mrs. Jacqueline Kennedy, the President’s two children, John Kennedy Junior and Caroline Kennedy, and his two brothers Bobby Kennedy and Ted Kennedy. The Queen formally handed over the land to Mr. Dean Rusk, the United States Secretary of State, in memory of President Kennedy. This gesture cemented a long-standing link between Britain and the United States, which has come to be symbolized by the site of the sealing of the Magna Carta at Runnymede, a cornerstone of British and American civil liberties.

The cost of the memorial was raised by public subscription through an appeal by the Lord Mayor of London; it is administered by the John F. Kennedy Memorial Trust, nine of whose members are British and three American.

References:

Runnymede, Commonwealth Air Forces, Magna Carta and John F. Kennedy Memorials, produced in association with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and the Ministry of Defence. published by Pitkin Pictorials Ltd., c.1965.