A rare medieval monument, built by a grieving king for his lost queen, won’t now be repaired until spring next year. The Eleanor Cross at Hardingstone in Northamptonshire will undergo restoration work from April 2019 but campaigners have raised concerns that that will be too long to stop more damage being done.
The 13th century stone cross has been deteriorating for some time with chunks falling off and intricate carving losing its shape and structure. Those campaigning to have the cross repaired say they are deeply concerned that another winter without any work could result in further damage.
Repair work had been delayed earlier after a debate broke out over who was responsible for the cross and its upkeep. It now comes under the auspices of Northampton Borough Council who will be working alongside Historic England on the restoration project.
The council has announced that one of the main problems lies with iron cramps holding the stones together. They haven’t been treated since the 1980s and are now decaying. The council says its experts have advised starting work in April as the process will involve using lime mortar which settles better in warmer weather.
Councillor Tim Hadland, Cabinet member for regeneration and enterprise at NBC, said ‘’undertaking the work during the winter months could result in the failure of the repairs and the need to undertake the works again in a short space of time’’.
However, campaigners say another winter without any help for the cross could prove to be the last straw. Author Matt Lewis, who spoke to Royal Central about the campaign to preserve the cross in the summer, has led calls for the monument to be covered or wrapped over the winter months to stop frost, ice and snow causing more problems. So far, the council hasn’t commented on those calls.
The cross is one of twelve that were built on the orders of King Edward I following the death of his beloved wife, Eleanor of Castile. She passed away in November 1291 and her grieving husband had the crosses built at the spots where her body rested on its journey from Lincoln to London. The cross at Hardingstone is one of just three originals still standing in the site it was originally built.