Repair works will finally start on Northampton’s Queen Eleanor Cross on April 1, it has been confirmed.
The London Road cross, one of only three remaining in the country, marks one of the nightly resting places of the funeral procession of King Edward I’s wife, Queen Eleanor of Castile, between Harby, near Lincoln, and London.
The repair works, funded by Northampton Borough Council and matched by Historic England, include the reinstatement of loose stonework, conservation repairs to the fragile 13th-century stonework, and carefully selected shelter coatings to some more vulnerable areas. In several limited areas, new pieces of stone might be required.
Last autumn, experts brought in to assess the monument advised that there are iron cramps in some locations. These are thought to be corroding, and causing damage to the masonry. The borough council had faced criticism for delaying the 'urgent' works from the publication of the experts' report, but they are now just under three weeks away.
Councillor James Hill, a cabinet member on Northampton Borough Council, told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “It’s no April Fool’s Joke, weather permitting work will be starting on April 1. It’s likely that the scaffolding will go up then, and I’m sure it will look good when it’s all done.”
Back in January, more than 1,500 residents had signed a petition calling on the council to erect scaffolding or put a temporary cover over the cross to protect it during winter. But the council said to do so would go against advice from Historic England. Since then, the cross has remained in its current state.
But the news that the start of work is impending has been welcomed by Colin Wood, the chairman of Far Cotton Residents’ Association.
He said: “It seems to be heading in the right direction now.”