"Charing Cross / Eleanor Crosses" Top 5 Page for this destination London Off The Beaten Path Tip by toonsarah

London Off The Beaten Path: 1,703 reviews and 3,058 photos

  Charing Cross
by toonsarah
 
 

Travelling around London there?s a good chance you?ll find yourself using Charing Cross station (the tube station here is the nearest to Trafalgar Square) and walking along busy Charing Cross Road. If you?re in the area, spare a minute to check this out. This is the Charing Cross, to be found just outside the station. And yes, I know it doesn?t look like a cross ? it is in fact an ornate Victorian reconstruction of an earlier simpler monument, and that monument a replacement for the original wooden cross that was placed near here (actually on the south side of Trafalgar Square) in the late 13th century. And there?s a lovely story attached to it ...

Charing Cross was one of twelve so-called "Eleanor Crosses". These were erected by a grief-stricken King Edward I when his wife Queen Eleanor of Castile died in 1290. The couple had been very happy and were devoted to each other (unusual in those days of arranged marriages) and her death came as a genuine blow to the king. He ordered her embalmed, and her entrails were buried at Lincoln Cathedral, near where she had died. Her body was then carried in a sombre procession to Westminster Abbey in London, the traditional site of royal graves. Progress was of course slow, and at each place where the procession stopped for the night, Edward ordered a memorial cross to be built in her honour. The locations of the twelve crosses were: Lincoln, Grantham, Stamford, Geddington, Northampton, Stony Stratford, Woburn, Dunstable, St. Albans, Waltham, Westcheap, and Charing.

The first simple wooden crosses were later replaced by ornate stone monuments, still known as crosses despite no longer retaining that shape. Today only the crosses at Waltham Cross (Hertfordshire), Geddington, and Hardingstone (both Northamptonshire) remain, while the cross at Charing is remembered only in the name Charing Cross and this overblown reconstruction.

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  • Written Feb 27, 2011
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