Monday, 11 January 2010

Queen Eleanor Cross, Northampton (a love story)

This is an unused card, dating from before 1918 but after 1902 though more likely after 1907.  Reasoning for this: the postage rate is stated as 1/2p for inland postage which was the rate in place until 1918. The card does have a divided back which was allowed in the UK from September 1902.  However many of the earlier cards with divided backs caution against using them for foreign countries.  This doesn't so I'm assuming it dates from some time after the majority of other countries accepted divided backs which seems to be around 1907.

Back to the subject matter of the card.  It shows one of the 12 Eleanor Crosses originally built between 1291 and 1294.  They were erected by Edward I in memory of his wife, Eleanor of Castile.  Theirs was an arranged marriage as was so common in the Middle Ages, but unlike many, it was a happy marriage.  They were rarely separated and Eleanor accompanied Edward on military campaigns.

When she died in Nottinghamshire in 1290, after a fever, her body was taken for burial to Westminster Abbey, a journey lasting 12 days, stopping each night along the way.  Edward accompanied her body.  He ordered crosses to be built at each of the stopping places in honour of the wife "whom living we dearly cherished, and whom dead we cannot cease to love.".

Of the 12 crosses only three remain, one of them being the Northampton cross at Hardingstone.
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  1. This is a lovely card and history. How wonderfully romantic.

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  3. I've just been reading more about the crosses on Wikipedia, fascinating. I remember seeing the remains of the cross at Lincoln Castle a couple of years ago. I wish I'd taken a photo.

  4. I admire your knowledge about postcards and how you can date them - fascinating! I always like to know the approximate year of a card and the history behind it. And there's a lovely romantic story behind this one. Fabulous!

  5. It's my Eleanor! Hmm, I should steal this one from you!

    John, yes there is the remains of an Eleanor statue at Lincoln Castle, I do have a photo of, I should update my website...


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