The Eleanor Cross
E. M. Barry
Thomas Earp, stonecarver
Portland stone, Mansfield stone and Aberdeen granite
Charing Cross Station forecourt, London WC2
This Gothic Revival monument has been described as "a work of reproduction rather than restoration" (Burnet and Blisset), but it is really neither. It represents Barry's attempt to recreate from the "scanty evidence of two or three scarce and indistinct prints" (Thornbury) the last of twelve memorial crosses that marked the spots at which Queen Eleanor's bier rested, when her funeral cortège travelled from Nottinghamshire to Westminster Abbey in 1290. Originally sited nearby, the cross traditionally also marked the spot from which distances to and from London were measured. When the replica was erected in the forecourt of Charing Cross Station, at the cost of the South Eastern Railway Company, the master-mason Thomas Earp was entrusted with the stone-carving. Its restoration was completed in 2010, allowing us to appreciate both Barry's and Earp's skills again.
Photograph, caption, and commentary by Jacqueline Banerjee, 2010.
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