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Waltham Cross


Although famous for it's Eleanor Cross in the centre of the town, Waltham Cross gets it's name from the stone cross brought the the district many years earlier by Tovi the proud in the 11th century.

The Eleanor Cross was erected by the King Edward I in 1291 to mark one of the resting places of his wife Queen Eleanor's body on it's journey from Harby in Lincolnshire to Westminster Abbey, following her death late the previous year. It is one of only three remaining from the twelve built along the 160 mile route (the other two are at Hardingstone and Geddington in Northamptonshire).

The Cross has not always looked as good as it does now. After being neglected during the 18th century it received an unsympathetic restoration in 1833, much of which was put right fifty years later by the architect C.E. Ponting. During the first few years of the 1950's further work was carried out and the Cross, which is a grade I listed structure, is now once again a fitting tribute to a Queen. The figures on the Cross are 1950's replicas, the originals now being housed indoors at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London.

Apart from the cross itself the town has very few buildings of historical interest, Waltham Cross having been almost totally rebuilt in the last hundred years. The gallows sign of the old Four Swans Inn survives though across the High Street. The Inn was one of the original "post houses" set up in the 1500's where men carrying mail, and later the regular mail coaches, could change horses. It was sadly demolished in the late 1960's to make way for the Pavilion shopping centre and multi storey car park. The other old inn next to the cross, The Falcon, survived another ten years before it too was demolished and eventually more new shops built on the site.

The tramways reached Waltham Cross High Street in early 1900's, stopping just south of the Eleanor Cross. The old cross was surrounded by wires for a while when trolleybuses replaced the trams just before the war, but these fortunately went when motor buses took over in 1961.

Today's town centre is built around the Pavillion Shopping Centre and the mostly pedestrianised High Street, which still has market days on both Wednesdays and Fridays. Following the development of both Waltham Cross and nearby Cheshunt, the two towns have merged into one, with the boundary probably defined by the railway line at Theobalds Grove station.