St. Mary Magdalene
Geddington, Kettering NN14 1AH
Performance in the church
Saturday 2nd December 2017
Be transported back to medieval world of Queen Eleanor and Edward 1st and the court of King Arthur as we weave together the real history of Queen Eleanor, and a legend of Camelot. In 1290 Eleanor died near Lincoln, and her body was taken back to Westminster in a splendid cortège, a heartbroken Edward following behind his Queen. The Cortège passed through the lands she owned allowing her tenants and stewards to pay their respects.
Eleanor's cortege stopped overnight in Geddington, a village in Rockingham forest on December 7th 1290. Geddington was one of Edward and Eleanor’s favourite hunting lodges, they spend many happy hours here and would have worshipped in the church. Her bier now rested here as a Requiem mass was held for the hundreds of members of the royal household that accompanied the funeral procession on its journey south. There is an annual service still held in St Mary Magdalene each year in memory of Eleanor. In the years following her death Edward ordered the best craftsmen in the land to build 12 stone crosses in the places Eleanor’s body had rested overnight stretching from Lincoln to Westminster.
The Geddington cross is the best preserved of them all, built on the site of an ancient well, erected outside the hunting lodge, behind the church that they loved so much. After her death Edward refused to return to the lodge which soon fell into disrepair. The cross shows multiple statues of her; hair loose, head gently inclined, quiet smile, dressed simply with a shift and mantel, hand sometimes playing with the chord – showing the opulence of the fabric and the modesty of the woman. The other hand holding a sceptre. The Geddington cross is the work of a mason called "Garcia of Spain.” It is different to the other surviving crosses as it has a triangular plan, it is taller and thinner, the lower tier is covered with rosette diapering, instead of the arch-and-gable motif which can be seen on both the others. The cross survived the Civil War however it was apparently damaged during the eighteenth century during the Easter squirrel bating – a ‘sport’ where the squirrels would take refuge in the cross from the stone throwing locals! Through the ancient art of storytelling you will enter Edward and Eleanor’s world, seeing the contradictory and glorious powerhouse she was; property magnate, mother, lover, bookworm, huntress, crusader and chess champion. This dramatic, tender and captivating performance is touring the monument locations – come and be part of the story!