Waltham Cross – Eleanor Cross

I’ve discovered another gap in my historical knowledge, as I had never heard of the Eleanor Crosses before today. These were twelve stone monuments erected by King Edward I in honour of his wife, Eleanor of Castile, which marked where her body laid in rest overnight when being taken to London from Harby in Nottinghamshire. The end point in London was Charing Cross, later named after their cross, although their stone monument was destroyed on the instructions of Parliament in 1647.

Of the original twelve monuments, only three survive, which are the one in Waltham Cross and at Geddington (in Northamptonshire) and Hardingstone (also in Northamptonshire). The monument here has been repaired many times over the centuries, but it still dominates the entrance to the tower centre. The statues of Eleanor aren’t original, they’re 1950s reproductions which were placed here as the originals were being damaged by the environment. The originals were initially placed on display in the town’s library, but they’re now at the Victoria & Albert museum. It’s probably now been a little over-restored so not much of the original is left, but the town is fortunate that they are one of the locations where the monument has survived at all.