Early April start of work planned for Eleanor Cross

Published: Wednesday, 13 March 2019

Skillington Workshop has been commissioned to carry out conservation work on Northampton’s Eleanor Cross, with work scheduled to start on Monday April 1.

The Lincolnshire firm will spend the first few weeks or so setting up the site office and scaffolding the monument before getting down to the main phase of work.

This will be overseen by specialist consultants Acanthus Clews and conservation and repairs will be complete before next winter closes in.

Northampton Borough Council commissioned the work and Cllr James Hill, Cabinet member for planning, said: “We said we would start work as soon as possible and that’s precisely what we’re doing.

“The Council sought the advice of the specialist conservator team regarding when the works should be undertaken and the start date reflects the advice received.

“We also listened to concerns from those who felt the monument was at risk during the most recent winter and proposed that it be shielded or wrapped for protection.

“Our specialists raised significant concerns over this suggestion, explaining that early scaffolding might encourage mischief, while wrapping could trap moisture against the stone or become loose in high winds, both potentially leading to unintended damage.

“The exciting project we are set to embark upon will see the sensitive and cautious repair of this beautiful and important monument, preserving it for future generations.”

Historic England (HE) has been consulted throughout the project and last year added the monument to its Buildings at Risk register which enabled the Council to apply for funding. HE has agreed to cover half of the project costs.

Since then, the Cross has been fully assessed by expert conservators and a specialist engineer, revealing issues with degraded iron cramps which were more than a century old.

These were last weatherproofed in the 1980s and might now need to be replaced with more durable stainless steel equivalents.

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

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