Eyewitness testimony - Dunstable Priory
With Dunstable we come to a new thrill in the procession – actual eyewitness testimony! Because while the cross itself is numbered amongst the disappeared, there is an account of the cortege in Dunstable.
“Her body passed through Dunstable and rested there for one night, and we were given two precious cloths called baudekyns and more than eighty pounds of wax. And when the body of the queen passed through Dunstable, her bier lay in the centre of the market place until the king’s chancellor and the nobles who were there with it chose a suitable place, for there to be built … a wonderfully large cross; and our prior sprinkled holy water to bless the chosen place.”
Later accounts of the cross also confirm that it was consistent with the pattern discerned so far – a cross with statues and coats of arms: The Dunstable cross, also from the same stable, is described as “having engraven on it arms of England, Castile and Ponthieu and adorned with statues”.
Again the cross was one of the John de Bello series and payments for it ran from 1291 to 1293.
The location of the cross is also quite clear – it was in the centre of the town, close to the current town hall.
Meanwhile the cortege stayed at the Abbey – a substantial establishment where Edward and Eleanor had previously stayed, and where a King’s Room had even been constructed.
But while the cross is gone, it should not be thought that Eleanor is forgotten in Dunstable. There is a plaque near the site of the original cross, and there is a modern homage in a shopping precinct named after the cross ….