Queen Eleanor of Castile

 plaque_Queen EleanorEleanor of Castile was the wife of King Edward 1 of England. They were married for 36 years when Eleanor died at Harby in Nottinghamshire on 28 November 1290. The funeral procession journeyed to London. King Edward decided that the resting place of the cortege each night should be marked by the erection of a memorial cross. The longest stage of the journey was the 23 miles to Grantham stopping on the night of 4 December. Our Grantham cross is one of three where there are no records of the construction, design and payments. We think this is because it was erected 4 years later in 1294 on St Peter’s Hill next St Peter’s Chapel where the present Green took its name. The cross survived for 351 years until it was pulled down on the orders of a Colonel Rossiter. He was one of Cromwell’s men who did not like monarchs or statues to them. Only three crosses remain with the most magnificent original being at Geddington near Kettering and Corby on the A43.

Ruby Stuckey MBE inspired Grantham Civic Society to consider having a replica cross built on St Peter’s Hill. We discovered an approved design from some years ago but cost ruled that out and we decided to go for a plaque instead. St Wulfram’s church architect and GSC Vice Chairman Graham Cook took to his drawing board and came up with a magnificent Ancaster stone plaque featuring the heads of Queen Eleanor and King Edward. The plaque was made Head Stone Mason Derren Ross of our local firm the Skillington Workshop Company and paid for by public donations. Listed Building consent was received as the plaque was to be placed on the wall of the Guildhall and on Saturday 29 August 2015 the plaque was unveiled by Ruby Stuckey in the presence of a great crowd of townspeople and cyclists from St Martin in the Fields on their 8th annual charity cycle ride to continue their wonderful work of helping under privileged people.

South Kesteven District Council was an enthusiastic supporter of the project. We added a small brass plaque of explanation. The historians say that the crosses might be as much a public display of royal status as affection for a much loved wife, but we prefer the love story that has come down through the ages.

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