Climbing Charing Cross

Old friends will know I have more than just a passing obsession with the Eleanor Crosses, the memorials built by Edward I to his Queen Eleanor after she died in 1290. Last Thursday I was fortunate enough to climb the Charing cross, a 1865 replica designed by E.Barry, currently under a scaffolding being restored by PAYE. It was a real privilege seeing the sculptures and intricate canopies close up and stonemasons at work replicating original gothic details, chip-chip-chipping away at limestone up scaffolding whilst the rest of London busies itself below. They’re making sure they replace at least one of each feature in pristine condition so they can be referred to in future years. On-site, they use clay molded over worn-away parts to mock-up gargoyle details before committing the design to stone. Here’s what the cross normally looks likes on the left, a view over St Martin’s in the Field and the National Gallery from the top of the scaffolding. A century and a half of weathering and pollution have left it heavily weathered, such as this rather faceless angel. And here’s one of the eight queens that watch over the city close-up.