The demolition of the Cheapside Cross (John Evelyn, 1643)

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On this day in 1643, John Evelyn wrote in his diary:

“I went from Wotton to London, where I saw the furious and zealous people demolish that stately Cross in Cheapside”.

A series of so-called Eleanor crosses were put up in the late thirteenth century by the then king, Edward I, in memory of his late wife, Eleanor of Castile (*).  There were two in London, one on Cheapside, and another at Charing Cross.  Both were destroyed by Parliamentarians during the Civil War, by which time they had come to be seen as symbols of royal oppression.  The one at Charing Cross was replaced by a replica in the Victorian period.

(*) Eleanor had died on a pilgrimage in the East Midlands in 1290, and Edward had then arranged for her body to be brought back to London for burial in Westminster Abbey, and for a cross to be put up at each of the twelve sites at which the cortege had to make  an overnight stop on the way.

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