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Eleanor's Crosses

Part 1: The final journey

Queen Eleanor of Castille died on 28th November 1290 at Harby, near Lincoln. After the queen’s body had been eviscerated and embalmed, and, while her entrails remained in Lincoln awaiting burial in the cathedral, the monarch organized a solemn procession to carry the remains to London. To commemorate the memory of the woman "whom living we dearly cherished, and whom dead we cannot cease to love", the king also staged a sumptuous funeral and endowed an elaborate anniversary service at Westminster abbey.

Most importantly, he ordered that memorial crosses be erected at every place where the funeral cortege stopped overnight while on the way from Lincoln to the capital. These amounted to twelve monuments created between 1291 and 1294 and placed at Lincoln, Grantham, Stamford, Geddington, Northampton (at Hardingstone), Stony Stratford, Woburn, Dunstable, St Albans, Waltham, West Cheap in the City of London, and finally at the royal mews at Charing. Only three of these survive, at Waltham, Hardingstone and Geddington, but fragments of the Cheapside cross are in the collection of the Museum of London, and both Cheapside and Charing can be reconstructed from existing drawings.

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