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The Stony Stratford Cross

December 9, 2014

After some rather long posts, we move into much sparser territory.  The Stony Stratford Cross is the second of the “disappeared” Crosses, where not even a fragment remains.

But the Crosses nearer London are better documented in the builders’ records and have attracted more writers over the years, so at least there is no question about their existence or location.

The cross was another one made by John de Bello, this time between 1291 and 1293.  In terms of appearance, about all we know of it is that it did feature images of the Queen and also her coats of arms.

The most interesting question about Stony Stratford is why?  It was only about 16 miles further down the excellent Watling Street, and Woburn, the next stop was almost certainly reachable in one day.  The question is the more compelling because there was no very obvious place for the cortege to stay in the Stony Stratford, the best offering being Bradwell Priory, some way outside the town.  The answer to both questions may well lie (as answers about Eleanor so often do!) in her property holdings. Stony Stratford was a couple of miles from her Haversham holdings – now held by one of her de la Plaunche relatives, who had married the heiress, Matilda De Haversham, who was herself in Eleanor’s household in 1290. It is therefore likely that the cortege stopped there, and Eleanor’s body may have lain in vigil in the local parish church, St Mary's Haversham - photo Mr Biz at geograph.org.uk). 

It is possible that Edward and some of his associates had left the cortege temporarily to ride on to St Albans Abbey where the abbot had recently died, and a new one required to be at least elected, if not formally installed, before Eleanor was received there.

As for the Cross’s fate through the ages, the information is similarly limited.  Camden called it “not very splendid”, but by reference to what, is unclear.  As for its loss the evidence is also thin.  We know that in 1735 William Hartley, who was then nearly eighty, could recall the time when the base of the cross was still discernible.  This suggests that like so many of the Crosses, it met its end during the Civil War.

There is an unobtrusive memorial to the cross in Stratford.

Photo and close up above both Richard Croft at geograph.org.uk

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