Saturday, 18 March 2017

The Gaveston Cross

Having read Rob's comment on the previous post - as to whether there is a way of raising funds to restore the Gaveston Cross - I had a quick look back through my notes and photos on the day I found it.  I was reminded of the difficulty I had searching from it, being armed with a map and a very patient friend who saw it as some sort of quest!  We left Warwick by bus and soon arrived at the village of Leek Wootton.  On arrival, we soon discovered there were no signposts or any information on the Gaveston Cross.  Thankfully, we were able to ask some of the locals, who initially seemed puzzled and then asked 'do you mean the old monument?'  They did their best to direct us, and I was excited as I found a sign with Gaveston Lodge.   We trekked along a path.  And here's what we were greeted with - yes, somewhere, in that wood, was the Gaveston Cross!
 We walked across the field - luckily it wasn't raining!   The wood was fenced off but there were gaps in the fence.  It was these gaps that gave us a clue.   The monument used to be a local place for gangs of youngsters to meet.
 This was my first glimpse of the Gaveston Cross.  I can't tell you the excitement I felt.
 The monument is very tall, so the cross on the top is undamaged.

Even from this view, it looks in good condition.  It's the bottom of the monument that has suffered, where people have sat at it's base and scrawled graffiti on it.  There were lots of drinks cans around it.

On contacting the local council, to complain that there were no signposts/information on the monument, I was sent an e-mail with a link about trespassing!  Whilst the monument is a Grade II listed monument, the land on which it stands belongs to a farmer who I've since discovered is not a local.   It is not his responsibility to maintain the monument.     It's a strange situation - a monument dedicated to Piers some 500 years after his death - it was erected in 1821 - but officially no-one can access it and no-one has to maintain it - and neither can it be demolished.  It makes me wonder just how many other such monuments exist, hidden away.  Of course, we can't know whether this is exactly the spot on which Piers was killed, but it must have been nearby.  I would like to know why the person who commissioned the monument, Bertie Greatheed, actually did so.  Why was he so keen to have the killing of Piers commemorated?   Especially with that awful inscription - 

'In the Hollow of this Rock, was beheaded, On the 1st Day of July, by Barons lawless as himself, Piers Gaveston, Earl of Cornwall;  The Minion of a hateful King:  In life and death, A memorable Instance of Misrule'

Greatheed didn't write the inscription, the local curate did, but he agreed to it.  No doubt Piers would be delighted to be remembered as Earl of Cornwall.  The day I visited the monument, it was a pleasant summer's day, and looking around at the greenery of the wood, it was hard to believe that such a violent crime has been carried out there.