Historians plead with council: 'Save Northampton's Eleanor Cross before it falls apart'

History groups are appealing for the borough council to step in and carry out long-awaited repair work.
History groups are appealing for the borough council to step in and carry out long-awaited repair work.

History groups fear it is now a question of not-if-but-when a 13th-century monument in Northampton will "fall to pieces" after finding new cracks in the stonework.

Fresh cracks and fallen chips of stone have been found at the base of Eleanor's Cross, in London Road, after one of the worst winters on record in the UK.

New pictures show how cracks are appearing in the stonework of the Eleanor Cross, in London Road.

New pictures show how cracks are appearing in the stonework of the Eleanor Cross, in London Road.

Now, historians and action groups are concerned the 700-year-old cross will not survive another year unless the borough council follows up on long-awaited repair work.

Northampton Borough Council says they aim to begin work by autumn - or, if not, take "remedial measures" against another winter.

Matthew Lewis, who runs the Save Eleanor Cross Twitter account, said: "I visited last week and found cracks I hadn't seen before and chips of stone fallen off.

"How long until chunks fall off? The Cross is a 700-year-old monument to love. We shouldn't be the generation that allows it to crumble away."

Survey work was carried out last year.

Survey work was carried out last year.

The Cross, situated at the southern end of London Road close to Delapré Wood, was commissioned by Edward I between 1291 and 1294.

Each of the original twelve monuments marks one of the nightly resting places of his wife, Queen Eleanor of Castile’s, funeral procession between Harby, near Lincoln, to London.

The borough council says the Cross is in the process of being added to Historic England's Buildings At Risk register and is applying for funding from Historic England to repair it.

Councillor Tim Hadland, cabinet member for regeneration, said: “We know this work needs to take place urgently and we are doing everything within our power to make that happen.

“The potential for a contribution toward the work from Historic England is very welcome, given the pressures local government budgets are currently under.”