Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Cheapside Cross

‘2d May, 1643. I went from Wotton to London, where I saw the furious and zealous people demolish that stately Cross in Cheapside.’

John Evelyn (diary) witnessed the destruction of the last Cheapside Cross in 1643.  The cross was built for the memory of Edward I of England’s wife, Eleanor of Castile, during the 1290’s.  It was also known as the Eleanor Cross.  The cross was an important feature of Cheapside, a place which figures in Walter Scott’s “Fortunes of Nigel”.  From that novel:

“She has got a godfather, however, Sir Mungo,” said George Heriot, again interfering; “and I hope you will allow him interest enough with you, to request you will not put his pretty godchild to so deep a blush.”

“The better — the better,” said Sir Mungo. “It is a credit to her, that, bred and born within the sound of Bow-bell, she can blush for any thing; and, by my saul, Master George,” he continued, chucking the irritated and reluctant damsel under the chin, “she is bonny enough to make amends for her lack of ancestry — at least, in such a region as Cheapside, where, d’ye mind me, the kettle cannot call the porridge-pot —”

The damsel blushed, but not so angrily as before. Master George Heriot hastened to interrupt the conclusion of Sir Mungo’s homely proverb, by introducing him personally to Lord Nigel.

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