A farewell to Geddington
On this day in 1290 Eleanor of Castile left one of her favourite places, the royal hunting lodge at Geddington, for the last time. The lodge/palace was situated to the north East of the church in Geddington - perhaps somewhere near modern Wood Street.
The royal family's northern tour had started in August, after the marriages of Eleanor and Edward's daughters Joan and Margaret to Gilbert, Earl of Gloucester and John, heir to the Duke of Brabant. But Eleanor's failing health had made progress painfully slow, and a journey which in previous years would have taken scant days had now taken the best part of a month.
Eleanor may well have sensed that she would never greet the dogs in her extensive hunting kennels here again; hunting with dogs was Eleanor's favourite form of this favourite pastime. Geddington, very close to the royal forest of Rockingham as well as to many of Eleanor's key properties was an exceptionally good place to combine business and pleasure, and it had been visited by the royal pair repeatedly since 1274.
(Artist's impression of the hunting lodge at Geddington, taken from geddington.net)
So poor was Eleanor's health, indeed, that the cavalcade only made it a few miles up the road to Pipewell en route to her dower property of Rockingham, where they were to stay a few days before moving on.
Eleanor did of course return, in some state, later that year; Geddington featured on her funeral procession, a visit commemorated by the beautiful Geddington cross.
Without Eleanor, Edward was to visit Geddington only once more. In 1300 he took his new young wife Margaret of France north via the Eleanor Cross sites. It may be that Edward found the sight of the cross, with its veiled images of Eleanor too poignant, or it may be that Margaret, who apparently preferred real castles to informal hunting lodges, indicated a preference. Be that as it may Edward never went back again - and the palace fell from favour. By 1385 it had all but disappeared ...