Special visitors for Northampton's Eleanor Cross

Published: Monday, 10 June 2019

This year’s Scholars from the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB) visited Northampton’s Eleanor Cross last week as part of their national tour.

The SPAB Scholarship is a prestigious nine-month programme of site, workshop and studio visits for young architects, surveyors and engineers to gain on-site conservation experience and craft skills.

Surveyor Daniel Shemming and architects Christian Montez, Holly Spilsbury and Bethan Watson visited on Tuesday (4 June) to see the stone conservation repairs to this important monument.

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

Only three of twelve original monuments remain, and each marked one of the nightly resting places of the funeral procession between Harby and London, for the King’s wife, Queen Eleanor of Castile.

During their visit the Scholars had an opportunity to gain hands-on experience of conservation with staff from Skillington Workshop, Northampton Borough Council’s contractor carrying out repairs at the site.

The Scholars have so far also visited a wide variety of sites including Westminster Abbey, Rennie Mackintosh’s Hill House in Helensburgh and Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire.

Cllr Tim Hadland, Northampton Borough Council Cabinet Member for regeneration and enterprise, said: “It’s heartening that the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings felt the cross worthy of a visit by this year’s Scholars.

“They will have gained some invaluable advice and hands-on experience, and their presence demonstrates how important the Eleanor Cross is in terms of its place in British history.”

SPAB is Britain’s oldest conservation body. Founded by William Morris in 1877 to care for the UK’s architectural heritage, today its remit is to advise, educate and campaign for old buildings.

Its annual Scholarship is a unique training scheme designed to help ensure the future of the UK’s built heritage. A group of young architects, surveyors and engineers committed to conservation are awarded a nine-month learning placement to gain practical building repair skills from the UK’s foremost craftspeople and architectural professionals.