Monday, 1 May 2017

Eleanor

Some further exploring today.  There was an opportunity to go east and slightly away from the canal network.

The plan was to visit Lyveden, a National Trust property.

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The website states this is an incomplete Elizabethan Lodge and gardens that were started by Sir Thomas Tresham to symbolise his catholic faith.  Work stopped on his death in 1605.

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At aged 10 Thomas inherited significant estates and was much despised for his enclosure policies.  He was also High Sheriff of Northampton and after executing 50 rioters was considered by many to be odious.  He had strong religious convictions and refused to attend Anglian services.  For this and other acts of conscience he was both fined heavily and imprisoned.  

His eldest son was involved in the Gunpowder Plot but died before he could be executed.  His body was decapitated anyway and his head displayed as a traitor.

On the return leg of  the journey I noticed a large house in the distance.  It wasn’t a National Trust property and wasn’t open to the public.  Eventually I identified it as Boughton House which is owned by a charity.  Apparently it is sometimes referred to as England’s version of Versailles

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I was almost geographically embarrassed when I stumbled into the small village of Geddington to come upon an Eleanor Cross.

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For those that don’t know the story Eleanor was the wife of Edward I (Edward Longshanks, Hammer of the Scots).She left Spain aged 10 to become Edwards Queen.  She and Edward had 16 children, the first when she was 20.  This provides clear evidence there was no TV in England at this time!

Edward was up fighting in Scotland when Eleanor suddenly died in Northamptonshire on her way north to join him.  On hearing the news Edward raced south to arrange her funeral In London.  Edward must have loved Eleanor as he ordered the erection of a stone cross at each location where Eleanor’s body rested for the night on her journey back to London.  Only three of the original 12 crosses still exist and one is on Geddington.  Whilst there is no longer a cross at the final stop in London it still has a famous name Charing Cross. She was buried in Westminster Abbey in 1290.

You can see the route her body took in the map extract below.  It’s obvious from the funeral route that the modern road and rail network didn’t exist.  Actually it now appears to be a rather obscure secondary route.

eleanor

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