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Eleanor of Castile (1241-1290)

Eleanor of Castile was a Spanish Princess, born in Burgos, Castile in the year 1241. As the wife of King Edward 1st, she was also Queen of England. Eleanor was a well-educated and successful businesswoman. Edward and Eleanor had a good marriage and were devoted to one another.

In 1290 aged 49 Eleanor was in the north of England visiting her properties, the progress was slow as she was not in the best of health. It is thought she was suffering the ill effects of malaria. Her final stop was the village of Harby a few miles from Lincoln. It was here on the evening of 28 November 1290 she died. Her body was taken to St. Catherine’s Priory in Lincoln for embalming, it was then taken to Lincoln Cathedral where her visceral were buried. 

 As Queen, her final resting place was to be Westminster Abbey. The long journey from Lincoln to London took many days and at each of the twelve places the cortege stayed overnight King Edward ordered that crosses bearing the statue of his Queen should be erected. Each cross was to be a reminder to people to pray for the soul of Eleanor, the “Queen of good memory”.

The first of the crosses was built near St Catherine’s Priory Lincoln close to Cross o’ Cliff Hill Lincoln. It was destroyed during the Civil War by Oliver Cromwell and his Parliamentary Army. A fragment of the statue survived and can be seen in the grounds of Lincoln Castle.

Crosses at Grantham and Stamford in Lincolnshire were also destroyed during the Civil war. The final cross is at Charing Cross Station London. This cross is a replica of the most elaborate of all the crosses and was finished in 1863. The original was sited where Whitehall meets Trafalgar Square. Eleanor’s long journey ended with her being laid to rest in Westminster Abbey.

  Written by Vanessa Thorne
  Posted: 1st September 2021