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.

eleanor cross

 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.

eleanor growth 3

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.

eleanor patching

Earlier low grade repairs. Photo Matthew Lewis

Next Talk: 27 April 2017 – 7:30pm

It is the welcome return of Mike Brown. This time talking about the medieval pilgrim. Mike has walked all the pilgrim routes of Europe dressed as a medieval pilgrim and will tell their story and play some of tunes of the time on authentic instruments.

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

Location: Marriott Hotel, Northampton  https://www.marriott.co.uk/hotels/maps/travel/ormnh-northampton-marriott-hotel/

mike brown

Talk Thursday 23 March Arms and Armour in 14th and 15th Century England

7:30pm

Location : Marriott Hotel, Northampton. https://www.marriott.co.uk/hotels/maps/travel/ormnh-northampton-marriott-hotel/

£5.00 on the door. Free to full NBS members

Thom Richardson FSA is Curator Emeritus at the Royal Armouries.
He is former Research and Collections Advisor (2015–2016), Deputy Master and Head of Collections (2014–2015), and Keeper of the Armour and Oriental Collections (1996–2014).

Thom joined the staff of the Tower Armouries in 1984 having previously worked for the British Museum and Manchester City Art Gallery. He completed his PhD on ‘The medieval inventories of the Tower armouries 1320–1410’ at the University of York in 2012.

He is former Research and Collections Advisor (2015–2016), Deputy Master and Head of Collections (2014–2015), and Keeper of the Armour and Oriental Collections (1996–2014).

Thom joined the staff of the Tower Armouries in 1984 having previously worked for the British Museum and Manchester City Art Gallery. He completed his PhD on ‘The medieval inventories of the Tower armouries 1320–1410’ at the University of York in 2012.

His new book The Tower Armoury in the Fourteenth Century has been recently published. https://shop.royalarmouries.org/books-and-dvds/royal-armouries-publications/royal-armouries-publications/the-tower-armoury-in-the-fourteenth-century-by-thom-richardson.html

Talk by Phil Steele – Medieval Battle in Contemporary Illustration

Thursday 29 September 2016 at 7:30 pm at the Marriott Hotel, Eagle Drive, Northampton.

http://www.marriott.com/hotels/maps/travel/ormnh-northampton-marriott-hotel/

Phil is Vice-Chair of NBS and Honorary Life President of The Society of Ancients, as well as a Trustee of the Battlefields Trust

1460 Battle of Northampton timeline 2

9 July 1460

The Yorkist army approaches Northampton through Blisworth and probably camps for the night at Hardingstone.

The Lancastrian camp begins to swell with men as towns answer the King’s summons. Twenty men from Beverley arrive after their mayor threw a party for them before they left. Men from Shrewsbury are also there too. Northampton’s leading gentry and their men such as the Wake’s, Catesby’s, Vaux’s and Tresham’s all come in support of the King. The Duke of Buckingham, as earl of Northampton draws men from his local estates, as does the Queen who owns Kingsthorpe Village. The town itself calls out the militia which fights under the town’s ‘Wild Rat’ banner.

The Yorkists send Heralds and Bishops ahead to the Lancastrian camp to negotiate, still maintaining they do not want to fight, only talk with the King.

Battle of Northampton timeline 1.

26 June 1460.

The Calais Lords, Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick; Edward, Earl of March; and William Neville, Lord Fauconberg landed at Sandwich with 2,000 men.

27 June 1460.

The Calais lords arrive at Canterbury. Robert Horne, John Scot and John Fosse and their men, sent by King Henry to stop them change sides and help negotiate the surrender of the city.

28 June 1460

Yorkists send out letters summoning help from the Cinque Ports. At least Rye and Winchelsea send men. After paying respects at the shrine of St. Thomas, a growing number of Yorkists leave Canterbury heading for London via Rochester and Dartford.

29 June 1460

The Common Council of London agree to resist the rebels but refuse to let the Lancastrian Lord Scales to act as the cities Captain. Men at Arms are placed on London Bridge. A deputation is sent to the advancing Yorkists warning them they would be refused entry to the city. Thousands flock to the Yorkist standard ‘like bees to the hive’.

1st July 1460

The Yorkist army reaches London and camps at Blackheath. As well as the Calais Lords it was said to include ” the many footmen of the commons of Kent, Sussex and Surrey”. By this time, according to some observers their number was between 20,000 and 40,000.

2 July 1460

11 Aldermen of London rebel in support of the Yorkists. The Yorkists enter London and are met by the Bishops of Ely and Exeter in Southwark. There is a crush on London Bridge and 13 Men at Arms are trampled when they fell.

3 July 1460

The Calais Lords make an oath of allegance to King Henry on the cross of Canterbury at St. Pauls. Warwick announces that they had come with the people to declare their innocence or else die in the field.

4 July 1460

Francesco Coppini, Bishop of Turin and Papal Legate joined the Yorkists at Calais. His official mission from the Pope was to persuade the English to join a crusade. However, he has a secret mission from Francesco Sforza, Duke of Milan (If you have seen “The Borgias” on TV you will get the idea), to help put the Yorkists on the throne. The French were becoming heavily involved in Italy and Margaret of Anjou’s brother wanted to be King of Naples, thereby threatening Milan. If the Yorkists were kings of England they might be persuaded to invade France and take the pressure of of Italy. At St. Pauls and by letter, Coppini issues a chilling warning to King Henry… ‘….out of the pity and compassion you should have for your people and citizens and your duty, to prevent so much bloodshed, now so imminent. You can prevent this if you will, and if you do not you will be guilty in the sight of God in that awful day of judgement in which I also shall stand and require of your hand the English blood, if it be spilt’

Warwick’s Uncle, William Neville, Lord Fauconberg, advances north from London, with according to one chronicler, 10,000 men. Faucoberg was the Yorkist’s most experienced soldier having taken part in many of the later battles of the 100 Year War. He appears to have been heading for Ware. Warwick secures a loan of £1,000 from London to finance the coming campaign.

5 July 1460

The main Yorkist army commanded by Warwick leaves London heading north along Watling Street. They bring with them a train of artillery.

The Lancastrian’s make plans to leave their base at Coventry. Summonses are sent out to towns and to lords to assemble their forces. They too have a large train of artillery which they had been stockpiling at Kenilworth Castle.

Salisbury and Cobham stay in London to lay siege to the Tower

July 7 1460

The Lancastrians reach Northampton and begin to build a fortified camp in fields between Hardingstone and Delapre Abbey. Bishop of Winchester and Lord Chancellor of England , William Waynflete, surrenders the Great Seal to the King in ‘Hardingstone Field’ Then he and a number of other senior members resign and flee.

In the meantime the two separate Yorkist armies join at Dunstable where they wait for the artillery and slower foot soldiers to catch up.

NBS recieves Battlefields Trust Presidents award

We are proud and pleased to announce that yesterday Mike Ingram and NBS was awarded the Battlefields Trust’s Presidents Award for outstanding battlefield preservation, conservation and interpretation. It will be formally presented by Sir Robert Worcester at the battle anniversary event at Delapre Abbey on the morning of 9 July.

If you have not brought the new book on the battle it is available direct from NBS or Amazon https://www.amazon.co.uk/Battle-Northampton-1460-Mike-Ingram/dp/099307779X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1466329476&sr=8-1&keywords=mike+ingram 13178704_1336243056391728_3784066177715858635_n

Talks

23 June. Anthony Rich – The Battle of Mortimers Cross

THE BATTLE OF MORTIMER’S CROSS (2 Feb. 1461), was fought near Wigmore in Herefordshire, between the Lancastrians under Jasper Tudor, and the Yorkists under Edward, Earl of March (later Edward IV).According to legend, on the morning of the battle, Edward witnessed a conjunction of three suns in the sky; after the victory, Edward, now Duke of York, took the white rose-en-soleil as his personal badge in remembrance. Anthony is an NBS committee member and  badged member of the Guild of Battlefield Guides. He has done considerable work on the site of the Battle of Mortimers Cross

21 July. Harvey Watson – The First Battle of St. Albans

The First Battle of St Albans, fought on 22 May 1455 at St Albans, 22 miles north of London, traditionally marks the beginning of the Wars of the Roses. Richard, Duke of York and his allies, the Neville Earls of Salisbury and Warwick, defeated a royal army commanded by Edmund Beaufort, Duke of Somerset, who was killed. With King Henry VI captured, a subsequent parliament appointed Richard of York Lord Protector.
Harvey is co-author of the book “The battles of St. Albans” published by Pen and Sword, currently editor of the Battlefields Trust’s quaterly magazine Battlefield, and Chair of their London and South East Region.

All 7:30pm start. Free to full NBS members otherwise £5.00 on the door

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