Charing Cross is an area of London that denotes the junction of Strand, Whitehall and Cockspur Street in central London. It is so named after a monument that was built in the late Thirteenth Century by King Edward I in memory of his late wife, Eleanor of Castile. The cross was one of twelve that were erected to mark the places where those that carried Eleanor’s body rested overnight, on the long journey from Lincoln to Westminster Abbey. The site of the cross that was in the hamlet of Charing is now home to a statue of King Charles I on horseback. The locations of all of the Eleanor Crosses were: Lincoln, Grantham, Stamford, Geddington, Hardingstone, Stony Stratford, Woburn, Dunstable, St Albans, Waltham (Now Waltham Cross), Westcheap (Now Cheapside), and Charing (Now Charing Cross). The crosses were originally wooden, but were eventually exquisitely decorated stone monuments.
Only three of the crosses remain today, and none of them are fully intact. The Eleanor Cross that was situated in Westcheap was destroyed in 1642 by an act of parliament, led by Sir Robert Harley. Sir Robert served as Master of the Mint for King Charles I, which was an important position in the Royal Mint. Many others have held this position, until it was abolished in 1870, including Sir Isaac Newton, British Prime Minister William Ewart Gladstone and Sir John Herschel, son of the astronomer William Herschel. With Sir Isaac Newton’s inclusion in the list (he was born in 1642), and the destruction of the cross itself, I have found another link within my quest for information regarding 1642, and quite possibly my first connection.
1642 was the start of the Civil War in England which pitted Parliamentarians (Roundheads) against Royalists (Cavaliers). However, this wasn’t the only civil war to take place in the land. Other civil wars have taken place in the Twelfth, Thirteenth, Fifteenth and Seventeenth Centuries, and one of them, the Second Baron’s War in the mid-Thirteenth Century saw a number of barons led by Simon de Montfort take on Royalist forces of the day, led by Prince Edward, who would later become King Edward I. Incidentally, the First Baron’s War (1215 – 1217) came about due to King John’s refusal to accept and abide by a charter known as the Magna Carta that he was forced to put his seal on, on 15th June 1215.
Simon de Montfort was an Anglo-Norman nobleman. His father, also Simon de Montfort was a French nobleman. Anglo-French connection.
So, now, my possible first link. Very, very random…
I discovered today that I have an Anglo-French connection, through my Mother’s Maiden Name, my Grandfather’s surname. Norris, as it was, is said to have been derived from the Norman-French word norreis, which means northerner, or north man. Or, to be more precise Norseman… Viking.
Normandy in France was settled in the Eighth Century by Vikings, and means ‘place of the north men’. Normandy was taken from the English, and King John, in 1204, by King Philip II of France, and King Philip’s son Louis was a major participant in the First Baron’s War..
Back in 1642 again, a Mediæval Icelandic manuscript called the Codex Regius, which contains the Poetic Edda (a collection of Old Norse poems) was discovered, in Iceland. It’s whereabouts before then are, to this day, a mystery. The poems hold a lot of information about Norse mythology. Even writing Norse now, I can instantly see the connection to Norris, which wasn’t evident to me before.
So, my quest has led me on a rather interesting journey this time. From a Thirteenth Century funeral, through an English civil war or two, over to Normandy in France and back to England again, introducing the Magna Carta to my search, and finally settling back on Iceland. And, I’m a northern man too… I think I’m being told something here.
My quest will continue.
My connection to 1642 will be found!
What else is waiting for me?
Only time will tell!