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Essentially England News, February 2012 - Mementos of a Royal Love Story
February 23, 2012
Mementos of a Royal Love Story
Yay, it's like the first day of spring today! For once, the temperatures are moving towards tolerable and as I write the sun's coming out and the crocus and primulas are positively glowing!
Very different from two weeks ago, when Steve took this picture from our front door. It looked very beautiful, but that night it turned unusually cold and we woke to frozen water pipes. Good thing that someone invented hairdryers, is all I can say.
What else is new in England? Pancake Day's just been and gone and everywhere people give up indulgences for Lent. And while I understand some of that, where's the sense in an MP giving up Twitter for Lent? Oh, well...
And with Valentine's Day just gone and our 20th wedding anniversary just around the corner, I'm feeling a little romantic. So for this month's little bit of history I'd like to tell you a Royal love story... or what's left of it.
A Little History: Eleanor Crosses
Geddington has one. Northampton has one. Waltham Cross has one. The one in Charing Cross is a Victorian replica. What am I talking about? Eleanor Crosses – the monuments to his late wife, Eleanor of Castile, built by order of her husband, King Edward I.
Eleanor died on 28th November 1290 at Lincoln and it took a 12-day journey to convey her body to London’s Westminster Abbey for burial. A wooden cross was erected at each overnight stop to allow the local people to pray for the queen’s soul. And a year later, King Edward ordered all the wooden crosses to be replaced with crosses made from carven stone.
Edward and Eleanor had been married for 36 years when she died. By all accounts, both were devoted to each other and rarely apart. Far from being just a trophy wife, Eleanor had some political influence, joined her husband on crusade and even gave birth to one of their sons while on military campaign with him in Wales. In their years together, Edward and Eleanor had 16 children and – in a time where such conduct was common and accepted – Edward apparently had no extramarital affairs or bastard children.
Little wonder then, that the king not only mourned his wife, but remembered her, too. And the Eleanor crosses, twelve of them originally at Lincoln, Grantham, Stamford, Geddington, Northampton, Stony Stratford, Woburn, Dunstable, St Alban’s, Waltham Cross, Westcheap, Charing Cross, marking her last journey became a memorial of a English king’s love.
With the Queen's Jubilee and the Olympics, England's going to be one busy place this year and record numbers of visitors are expected. So if you're planning on being here during the summer, make sure you book early.
That's especially true if you want to stay somewhere really special like these two, for example:
For more great cottages check out Places to Stay. I'm slowly working my way round the counties, trying to find the prettiest, quirkiest and most historical cottages I can. (It's a hard job, but someone has to do it! :-)
Recipe of the Month
Still in the medieval vein, almonds were England’s biggest luxury import during that period. They were endlessly useful for thickening dishes and for making a milk substitute – on the many fast days when meat and dairy products were forbidden. And they contributed to some of the lavish puddings that medieval banquets were justly famous for.
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