New conservation team will begin inspection of Northampton's Eleanor Cross next month

A conservation team and a lead consultant will draw up a schedule of repairs for the Eleanor Cross in London Road after the council was awarded a grant by Historic England.
A conservation team and a lead consultant will draw up a schedule of repairs for the Eleanor Cross in London Road after the council was awarded a grant by Historic England.

An expert conservation team and a lead consultant have been appointed to review the repairs needed to Northampton’s decaying Eleanor Cross.

The appointments have been made by Northampton Borough Council after the authority succesfully applied to Historic England to fund 50 per cent of the works in May.

The small team of experts will now conduct a week-long inspection of the Cross in London Road, starting on September 5.

Once the necessary repair works have been identified, the team will then prepare a schedule of the works needed and the borough will tender for a contractor to price them.

These next steps will all take place this coming autumn.

The grant application to Historic England came following recommendations by Cliveden Conservation, which carried out a shocking condition report on the Cross in February this year.

The council says it has has been working closely with Historic England since then.

Councillor Tim Hadland, cabinet member for regeneration, enterprise and planning, said: “Everyone is keen to see the repair works to the Eleanor Cross begin and we hope the appointment of this expert team is recognised as an important step forward.

“With the team’s help, we will be able to ensure that any works carried out will be informed, diligent and timely.

“Once we fully understand the works needed, we will of course progress them as quickly possible, including any precautionary measures that may be identified during the site visit during week beginning September 5.”

The Eleanor Cross is one of three remaining monuments in the country built in honour of Queen Eleanor of Castile.

Twelve were commissioned by King Edward I in 1291, but nine of the original crosses are no longer standing.

Dr Ben Robinson, principal adviser at Historic England, said: “Historic England recognises that the Eleanor Cross, a nationally important monument, is at risk.

"The progressive decay of its stonework over time needs to be addressed. To assist Northampton Borough Council in its care of the Eleanor Cross, we are pleased to have awarded a substantial grant towards repair costs.

“Appropriately qualified conservation professionals have now been appointed by Northampton Borough Council. Their first task is to fully investigate the problems that the Cross faces and to draw up a schedule of comprehensive repairs. The Eleanor Cross has had a complex history of previous repairs. New repairs must be carried out very sensitively and with a great deal of thought about the performance of repair materials in the future.

“The repairs will be carried out as soon as feasible. If temporary protective measures are necessary, they will be put in place.”