Queen Eleanor’s Cross – The story so far

When Edward I’s queen, Eleanor died in 1290 at Harby, her viscera, less her heart, were sent to the Angel Choir of Lincoln Cathedral for burial, and her body was then taken to London, taking 12 days to reach Westminster Abbey. Crosses were erected at the twelve places where her funeral procession stopped overnight. Today only three crosses still stand, at Geddington, Northampton, and Waltham Cross. The top of the Northampton Cross was missing in 1460 at the time of the battle.

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 Northampton’s Queen Eleanor Cross. Photo Nicola McKenna
In July 2016, Northamptonshire Battlefield Society began to express concerns about the deteriorating condition of the Northampton Cross in meetings with Northampton Borough Council and other stakeholders in Delapre park. NBS continued to bring it up at subsequent meetings but got no further than a than a dispute of who was responsible for its upkeep. Frustrated at the lack of action, NBS made their concerns public which were then taken up by BBC Radio Northampton. Starting Monday 24 April, for three days in succession it was headline news and the chair of NBS, author Sara Cockerill and others were interviewed on the radio. As a result, the Borough Council issued the following statement.

“We are aware of the many references to the cross on our website and sadly whilst this seems contradictory we still believe this isn’t proof of our ownership of the cross, however we have carried out extensive maintenance on the cross in the past we now intend to carry out further work to tidy up what is undoubtedly a fantastic monument of national importance”

And this was despite the cross being listed on the council’s asset register. So, on Wednesday 26 April this page was launched. The threat to the cross sparked outrage within the local community and further afield. Support grew rapidly and a twitter feed was greeted with a similar response, also gaining celebrity support from the likes of Tony Robinson and Al Murray. The cross’s plight made TV and interviews with the NBS Chair, plus Marie Dickie and Adrian Bell from the Hardingstone History Group was shown on BBC Look East on 2 May.

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Some of the growth on the Cross. Photo Matthew Lewis

Then on the afternoon of 2 May, Northampton Borough Council released the following statement

“We are moving ahead as quickly as possible to get the permission we need to carry out work on the Eleanor Cross. We have met with Historic England and taken their advice and have already approached three accredited restoration and conservation companies with the experience of working on such important monuments. Two have already responded and when we have heard from the third, we will appoint a contractor to carry out a condition survey, commission initial works and advise on what further work is needed going forward.
“We have formally made an application to work on a scheduled monument and once we have received the permission necessary from Historic England work will begin straight away. We are well aware of the importance of the Eleanor Cross and how our plans for Delapré Abbey will raise its profile even further.”

There is a way to go yet. Support continues to grow and NBS will continue to monitor the situation to ensure that the council sticks to its promise. Responsibility needs to be confirmed and a long term maintenance program needs to be sorted. Better access to the site and some signage are also priorities. We will continue to report progress.
But all in all, not bad for little over a week. Thank you everybody.

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Earlier low grade repairs. Photo Matthew Lewis

Speakers for 2017

Jan 26: Dom Smee and Richard Knox – Richard III armour
Feb 23: Mike Ingram – The Earls and Kings of Scotland and Northamptonshire
March 23: Thom Richardson (curator emeritus, Royal Armouries) – Arms and armour in England in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries
April 27: Mike Brown – The medieval pilgrim
June 1: Bob Woosnam-Savage (Curator of European Edged Weapons, Royal Armouries) – The reality of 15th century warfare – Tis but a scratch
June 29: Andy Chapman – Neolithic, Bronze and Iron Age Northants
July 27: Peter Brearley – The story of archery
September 28: Mathew Morris – Revealing Greyfriars. The search for Leicester’s lost Franciscan friary.
October 26: AGM plus Matthew Lewis – Henry III
November 30: Prof Steven Upex. Medieval Field Systems in Northants

All start 7:30pm except AGM (7:00pm)

See our Facebook page under events for more details of individual talks.

All free to full Northampton Battlefields Society members otherwise £5.00 on the door.

Venue: Marriott Hotel, Eagle Dr, Northampton NN4 7HW http://www.marriott.co.uk/hotels/maps/travel/ormnh-northampton-marriott-hotel/

Northampton Battlefield Society – Forthcoming Events

 

29 September – Phil Steele, Medieval Battle in contemporary illustrations.

20 October – AGM and talk Richard Brooks, William Marshal: The Knight who saved England

24 November – Paul Blinkhorn, Anglo-Saxon Northamptonshire

December – No talk

26 January – Dominic Smee and Richard Knox, The armour of Richard III

All talks at the Marriott Hotel, Eagle Drive, Northampton. 7:30pm start and are free to full NBS members otherwise £5.00 on the door.

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Christmas 1223

It was Christmas 1223, the rebel alliance (the Schismatics) were on the run. They planned to meet in ‘great array’ at the castle of Northampton which was held by one of the rebels, Sheriff of Northampton, . However, they were beaten to it, and on 23 December, the young King Henry III arrived at Northampton Castle with Stephen Langton, Archbishop of Canterbury and many bishops, earls, barons and Knights intending to spend Christmas there. It was not the first time, the King had celebrated Christmas at Northampton, as de Breauté, had entertained him in the castle after the victory at the Battle of Lincoln Fair during Christmas 1217. The Dunstable annalist noted that neither in the days of his father (King John), nor afterwards, is such a feast known to have been celebrated in England. The next day Langton excommunicated all the rebels, and they were summonsed to appear before the King at Northampton on 30 December. When they arrived the Schismatics were shown letters from the Pope ordering the restoration of their castles to the King. They surrendered their castles and de Breauté and the Earl of Chester lost their sheriffdoms. It was not until mid Jan that Ralph de Trublevill was appointed as de Breautés replacement. The following June, de Breauté was convicted of 16 charges of seizing other peoples land. In reply he captured one of the judges Henry of Braybrook in Northants and threw him in the dungeon of his last surviving castle at Bedford. The King who had been at Northampton ordered his army to march on Bedford. It was to be one of the longest sieges during this period lasting eight weeks, with over 200 killed by the missiles of the defenders. After a fourth assault broke the walls de Breautés brother William and 80 knights were captured, refused pardon and hanged. De Breauté himself was exiled and died in 1226, allegedly from a poisoned fish.henry iii

Talk on Simon de Montfort by Richard Brooks

We are pleased to announce as part of our February meeting there will be Talk by historian Richard Brooks on Simon de Montfort – Martyr or Mountebank?

Thursday 25 Feb 2016 7:30pm start at the Marriott Hotel, Eagle Drive, Northampton. NN4 7HW

Richard Brooks is a freelance military historian with a particular interest in the intersection of naval and military history, and the use of hitherto untapped sources to develop fresh insights into past campaigns. Richard is the author of “Lewes and Evesham 1264-65: Simon de Montfort and the Barons’ War” and “The Knight Who Saved England: William Marshal and the French Invasion, 1217” both for Osprey. Previous books for Osprey include Solferino 1859 and Walcheren 1944. He was also Consultant Editor for The Times History of War.

Free to full members, otherwise £5.00 on the door.

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https://www.marriott.co.uk/hotels/maps/travel/ormnh-northampton-marriott-hotel/

Forthcoming talks

 

Thursday 28 January 2016 – Talk by Mathew Morris, the archaeologist who led the search to find Richard III’s grave. Thursday 25 Feb 2016 – Talk by Richard Brooks Simon de Montfort – Martyr or Mountebank?

Richard Brooks is a freelance military historian with a particular interest in the intersection of naval and military history, and the use of hitherto untapped sources to develop fresh insights into past campaigns. Richard is the author of “Lewes and Evesham 1264-65: Simon de Montfort and the Barons’ War” and “The Knight Who Saved England: William Marshal and the French Invasion, 1217” both for Osprey. Previous books for Osprey include Solferino 1859 and Walcheren 1944. He was also Consultant Editor for The Times History of War.

Free to full members, otherwise £5.00 on the door.

All 7:30pm start at the Marriott Hotel, Eagle Drive, Northampton. NN4 7HW

https://www.marriott.co.uk/hotels/maps/travel/ormnh-northampton-marriott-hotel/

Next talk – 25th June.

Ever wonder who the knights were? How they fitted into the nobility. How their armour and weapons change? These and many more questions (plus a bit of Northants medieval history) will all be answered in our talk “The Knights Tale”

25 June, 7:30pm The Marriott Hotel. Eagle Drive, Northampton

https://www.marriott.co.uk/hotels/fact-sheet/travel/ormnh-northampton-marriott-hotel/

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Next Talk – 28 May

28 May, our own Phil Steele will be giving a talk on the Battle of Bouvines – the battle that lost King John the Angevin Empire.

At the Marriott Hotel, Northampton 7:30pm Free to members, £5 non-members.

http://www.marriott.com/hotels/maps/travel/ormnh-northampton-marriott-hotel/#directionsBouvines Battle scene BL Royal 16 G Vi f.379