Charing Cross (/ˌtʃærɪŋ ˈkrɒs/) is a junction in London, England, where six routes meet. Clockwise from north these are: the east side of Trafalgar Square leading to St Martin's Place and then Charing Cross Road; the Strand; Northumberland Avenue; Whitehall; The Mall leading to Admiralty Arch and Buckingham Palace; and two short roads leading to Pall Mall.
The junction takes its name from the medieval Eleanor cross that stood on the site from the 1290s until its destruction on the orders of Parliament in 1647. It gives its name in turn to the immediate locality, and to landmarks including Charing Cross railway station, on the forecourt of which stands the ornate Queen Eleanor Memorial Cross of 1864–1865. This was once the heart of the Westminster hamlet or neighbourhood of Charing.
Until 1931, "Charing Cross" also referred to the part of Whitehall between Great Scotland Yard and Trafalgar Square. Drummonds Bank, on the corner with The Mall, retains the address 49 Charing Cross (not to be confused with Charing Cross Road).
Since the early 19th century, Charing Cross has been the notional "centre of London" and the point from which distances from London are calculated.
Charing Cross roundabout, with a Statue of Charles I on the site of the original Eleanor Cross, once a three-way junction.
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|Ceremonial county||Greater London|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
"Erect a rich and stately carved cross,
Whereon her statue shall with glory shine;
The addition of the name "Cross" to the hamlet's name originates from the Eleanor cross erected in 1291–94 by King Edward I as a memorial to his wife, Eleanor of Castile, and placed between the former hamlet of Charing and the entrance to the Royal Mews of the Palace of Whitehall (today the top of Whitehall on the south side of Trafalgar Square). Folk etymology suggests the name derives from chère reine – "dear queen" in French – but the original name pre-dates Eleanor's death by at least a hundred years.
This wooden sculpted cross was the work of the medieval sculptor, Alexander of Abingdon. It was destroyed in 1647 on the orders of the purely Parliamentarian phase of the Long Parliament or Oliver Cromwell himself in the Civil War. A 70 ft (21 m)-high stone sculpture in front of Charing Cross railway station is a copy of the original cross. Erected in 1865, it is situated a few hundred yards to the north-east of the original cross, on the Strand. It was designed by the architect E. M. Barry and carved by Thomas Earp of Lambeth out of Portland stone, Mansfield stone (a fine sandstone) and Aberdeen granite. It is not a faithful replica, being more ornate than the original.
A variation on the name appears to be "Charyngcrouche", near St Martin in the Fields, in 1396.
Since 1675 the site of the cross has been occupied by a statue of King Charles I mounted on a horse. The site is recognised by modern convention as the centre of London for the purpose of indicating distances by road in favour of other measurement points (such as St Paul's Cathedral which remains as the root of the English and Welsh part of the Great Britain road numbering scheme). Charing Cross is marked on modern maps as a road junction, and was previously a postal address denoting the stretch of road between Great Scotland Yard and Trafalgar Square. Since 1 January 1931 this section of road has been designated part of the Whitehall thoroughfare.
The cross has given its name to a railway station, a tube station, police station, hospital, a hotel, a theatre, and a music hall (which lay beneath the arches of the railway station). Charing Cross Road the main route from the north (which becomes the east side of Trafalgar Square) was named after the railway station, which was a major destination for traffic, rather than for the original cross.
At some time between 1232 and 1236, the Chapel and Hospital of St Mary Rounceval was founded at Charing. It occupied land at the corner of the modern Whitehall and into the centre of Northumberland Avenue, running down to a wharf by the river. It was an Augustinian house, tied to a mother house at Roncesvalles in the Pyrenees. The house and lands were seized for the king in 1379, under a statute "for the forfeiture of the lands of schismatic aliens". Protracted legal action returned some rights to the prior, but in 1414, Henry V suppressed the 'alien' houses. The priory fell into a long decline due to lack of money and arguments regarding the collection of tithes with the parish church of St Martin-in-the-Fields. In 1541, religious artefacts were removed to St Margaret's, and the chapel was adapted as a private house and its almshouse were sequestered to the Royal Palace.
In 1608–09, the Earl of Northampton built Northumberland House on the eastern portion of the property. In June 1874, the whole of the duke's property at Charing Cross, was purchased by the Metropolitan Board of Works for the formation of Northumberland Avenue.
The frontage of the Rounceval property caused the narrowing at the end of the Whitehall entry to Charing Cross, and formed the section of Whitehall formerly known as Charing Cross, until road widening in the 1930s caused the rebuilding of the south side of the street, creating the current wide thoroughfare.
In 1554, Charing Cross was the site of the final battle of Wyatt's Rebellion. This was an attempt by Thomas Wyatt and others to overthrow Queen Mary I of England, soon after her accession to the throne and replace her with Lady Jane Grey. Wyatt's army had come from Kent, and with London Bridge barred to them, had crossed the river by what was then the next bridge upstream, at Hampton Court. Their circuitous route brought them down St Martin's Lane to Whitehall.
The palace was defended by 1000 men under Sir John Gage at Charing Cross; they retreated within Whitehall after firing their shot, causing consternation within, thinking the force had changed sides. The rebels – themselves fearful of artillery on the higher ground around St James's – did not press their attack and marched onto Ludgate, where they were met by the Tower Garrison and surrendered.
At the Restoration eight of the regicides were executed here, including the notable Fifth Monarchist, Colonel Thomas Harrison. A statue of Charles I was later erected on the site. This statue had been made in 1633 by Hubert Le Sueur, in the reign of Charles I, but in 1649 was ordered to be destroyed by Parliament. Subsequently, after being hidden by the man charged with destroying the statue, it resurfaced at the Restoration, and was erected here in 1675.
A prominent pillory, where malefactors were publicly flogged, was situated next to the statue of King Charles. To the south of Charing Cross was the Hungerford Market, established at the end of the 16th century; and to the north was the King's Mews, a royal stable. The area around the pillory was a popular place of street entertainment. Samuel Pepys records in his diaries visiting the surrounding taverns and watching the entertainments and executions that were held there. This whole area was transformed when Trafalgar Square was built on the site in 1832.
A famous inn called the "Golden Cross" – first mentioned in 1643 – stood in the former village of Charing. From here, in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, coaches departed by various routes to Dover, Brighton, Bath, Bristol, Cambridge, Holyhead and York. The inn features in Sketches by Boz, David Copperfield and The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens. In the last, the dangers to public safety of the low archway between the inn to the street were memorably pointed out by Mr Jingle:
"Heads, heads – take care of your heads", cried the loquacious stranger as they came out under the low archway which in those days formed the entrance to the coachyard. "Terrible place – dangerous work – other day – five children – mother – tall lady, eating sandwiches – forgot the arch – crash – knock – children look round – mother's head off – sandwich in her hand – no mouth to put it in – head of family off"
The story was based on an incident of 11 April 1800, when the Chatham and Rochester coach was emerging from the gateway of the Golden Cross: "a young woman, sitting on the top, threw her head back, to prevent her striking against the beam; but there being so much luggage on the roof of the coach as to hinder her laying herself sufficiently back, it caught her face, and tore the flesh in a dreadful manner"
The inn was demolished for the creation of Trafalgar Square and a new Golden Cross Hotel was built in the 1830s on the triangular site now fronted by South Africa House. Though this hotel is now also gone, the memory is preserved in commercial offices facing the Strand named Golden Cross House.
The railway station opened in 1864, fronted on the Strand with the Charing Cross Hotel. In 1865, a replacement cross was commissioned from E. M. Barry by the South Eastern Railway as the centrepiece of the station forecourt. It is not a replica, being of an ornate Victorian Gothic design based on George Gilbert Scott's Oxford Martyrs' Memorial (1838). The Cross rises 70 feet (21 m) in three main stages on an octagonal plan, surmounted by a spire and cross. The shields in the panels of the first stage are copied from the Eleanor Crosses and bear the arms of England, Castile, Leon and Ponthieu; above the 2nd parapet are eight statues of Queen Eleanor. The Cross was designated a Grade II* monument on 5 February 1970. The month before, the bronze equestrian statue of Charles, on a pedestal of carved Portland stone was given Grade I listed protection.
Fragments of the medieval original remain in the Museum of London.
By the late 18th century, the Charing Cross district was increasingly coming to be perceived as the "centre" of the metropolis (supplanting the traditional heartland of the City to the east). From the early 19th century, legislation applicable only to the London metropolis used Charing Cross as a central point to define its geographical scope. Its later use in legislation waned in favour of providing a schedule of local government areas and became mostly obsolete with the creation of Greater London in 1965.
|Metropolitan Police District||The Metropolitan Police Act 1829 made provision that all parishes within 12 miles of Charing Cross could be added. This was expanded to 15 miles by the Metropolitan Police Act 1839.|
|Metropolitan Buildings Office||The London Building Act 1844 allowed that any place within 12 miles of Charing Cross could be added to the area of responsibility.|
|Hackney carriage licensing and The Knowledge||The London Hackney Carriage Act 1831 and subsequent legislation set the radius within which cab drivers were obliged to take a fare. Streets within a six-mile radius of Charing Cross are still included in taxi driver training.|
|Street Trading||The Metropolitan Streets Act 1856 gave the Commissioner of Metropolitan Police the power to control various activities within a six-mile radius of Charing Cross. Powers to license shoeblack pitches are still in force but in practice are superseded by individual London boroughs' street trading arrangements.|
Road distances from London continue to be measured from Charing Cross. Prior to its selection as a commonly agreed central datum point, various points were used for this purpose. John Ogilby's Britannia of 1675, of which editions and derivations continued to be published throughout the 18th century, used the "Standard" (a former conduit head) in Cornhill; while John Cary's New Itinerary of 1798 used the General Post Office in Lombard Street.
The milestones on the principal turnpike roads were generally measured from the terminus of the individual road, mostly on the perimeter of the metropolitan area: these points included Hyde Park Corner, Whitechapel Church, the southern end of London Bridge, the southern end of Westminster Bridge, Shoreditch Church, Tyburn Turnpike, Holborn Bars, St Giles's Pound, Hicks Hall (the terminus of the Great North Road), and the Stones' End in The Borough. Some roads into Surrey and Sussex were measured from St Mary-le-Bow church. Some of these structures had been moved or destroyed, but their former locations continued to be used for distances. The result was that "all the Books of Roads ... published, differ in the Situation of Mile Stones, and instead of being a Guide to the Traveller, serve only to confound him". William Camden speculated in 1586 that Roman roads in Britain had been measured from London Stone, a claim that was subsequently widely repeated, but that is unsupported by archaeological or other evidence.
To the east of the Charing Cross road junction is Charing Cross railway station, situated on the Strand. On the other side of the river, connected by the pedestrian Golden Jubilee Bridges, are Waterloo East station and Waterloo station.
The Archdeacon of London is a senior ecclesiastical officer in the Church of England. She or he is responsible for one of two archdeaconries (the other is the Archdeacon of Charing Cross) within the Two Cities (London and Westminster) episcopal area of the Diocese of London – that episcopal has no area bishop but is under the direct care of the diocesan Bishop of London.Camden Town tube station
Camden Town is a London Underground station on the Northern line. It is a major junction for the line and one of the busiest stations on the London Underground network. It is particularly busy with visitors to the Camden markets at weekends, and is exit-only on Sundays to prevent overcrowding.
Northbound, the next stations are Chalk Farm on the Edgware branch and Kentish Town on the High Barnet branch. Southbound, the next stations are Mornington Crescent on the Charing Cross branch and Euston on the Bank branch. The station is in Travelcard Zone 2.Charing Cross, Euston and Hampstead Railway
The Charing Cross, Euston and Hampstead Railway (CCE&HR), also known as the Hampstead Tube, was a railway company established in 1891 that constructed a deep-level underground "tube" railway in London. Construction of the CCE&HR was delayed for more than a decade while funding was sought. In 1900 it became a subsidiary of the Underground Electric Railways Company of London (UERL), controlled by American financier Charles Yerkes. The UERL quickly raised the funds, mainly from foreign investors. Various routes were planned, but a number of these were rejected by Parliament. Plans for tunnels under Hampstead Heath were authorised, despite opposition by many local residents who believed they would damage the ecology of the Heath.
When opened in 1907, the CCE&HR's line served 16 stations and ran for 7.67 miles (12.34 km) in a pair of tunnels between its southern terminus at Charing Cross and its two northern termini at Archway and Golders Green. Extensions in 1914 and the mid-1920s took the railway to Edgware and under the River Thames to Kennington, serving 23 stations over a distance of 14.19 miles (22.84 km). In the 1920s the route was connected to another of London's deep-level tube railways, the City and South London Railway (C&SLR), and services on the two lines were merged into a single London Underground line, eventually called the Northern line.
Within the first year of opening, it became apparent to the management and investors that the estimated passenger numbers for the CCE&HR and the other UERL lines had been over-optimistic. Despite improved integration and cooperation with the other tube railways, and the later extensions, the CCE&HR struggled financially. In 1933 the CCE&HR and the rest of the UERL were taken into public ownership. Today, the CCE&HR's tunnels and stations form the Northern line's Charing Cross branch from Kennington to Camden Town, the Edgware branch from Camden Town to Edgware, and the High Barnet branch from Camden Town to Archway.Charing Cross, Glasgow
Charing Cross is a major road junction in the Scottish city of Glasgow. It is situated north of the River Clyde at the intersection of Sauchiehall Street, St George's Road, Woodlands Road, North Street and Newton Street, as well as being at a major interchange of the M8 motorway. Formerly the gateway from the shopping area of Sauchiehall Street to the more prosperous Woodlands area, its architectural qualities were largely razed by the building of the motorway. It still marks the boundary between the City Centre and the West End of the City. Nearby landmarks include the Mitchell Library.
Charing Cross was also part of the so-called Square Mile of Murder, the location of a series of sensational murders which scandalised Victorian society.It includes Charing Cross (Glasgow) railway station.Charing Cross (Glasgow) railway station
Charing Cross (Glasgow) is a railway station close to the centre of Glasgow, Scotland, serving the district of the same name. It is managed by Abellio ScotRail and is served by trains on the North Clyde Line. It should not be confused with the Charing Cross station in London.
Dating from 1886, it was originally part of the Glasgow City and District Railway, the first underground railway in Scotland. The station was built using the cut and cover method, with the original walls being visible on the open air section at the western end of the platforms. Nearby points of interest include Sauchiehall Street and the Mitchell Library, and the station (along with nearby Anderston - a stop on the Argyle Line), serves the city's financial district, making this station popular with commuters.
The original surface buildings of the station were removed in the late 1960s during the construction of the M8 motorway, and replaced by the current structure as part of the adjoining Elmbank Gardens commercial development in 1970 - the building was designed by the Richard Seifert Co-Partnership. In 1995 it received a minor refurbishment when lifts were provided down to platform level. The present station contains a staffed ticket office and a small branch of WHSmith.
Automatic ticket gates have now been installed and came into operation on 3 June 2011.Charing Cross Bridge (Monet series)
Charing Cross Bridge is a series of oil paintings by French artist Claude Monet. Painted in between 1899 and 1904, they depict a misty, impressionistic Charing Cross Bridge in London.Charing Cross Hospital
Charing Cross Hospital is an acute general teaching hospital located in Hammersmith, London, United Kingdom. The present hospital was opened in 1973, although it was originally established in 1818, approximately five miles east, in central London.
It is part of Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust and is a teaching hospital of the Imperial College School of Medicine. It is a tertiary referral centre for neurosurgery, and is a national centre of excellence for gestational trophoblastic disease. It currently houses the serious injuries centre for West London. In recent times, the hospital has pioneered the clinical use of CT scanning.
The hospital is host to the West London Neuroscience Centre. In addition, a day surgery unit, the Riverside Wing, was recently added. The West London Mental Health NHS Trust also has buildings on site. The hospital hosts the largest and oldest gender identity clinic in the country, with 150 operations performed annually.Charing Cross Road
Charing Cross Road is a street in central London running immediately north of St Martin-in-the-Fields to St Giles Circus (the intersection with Oxford Street) and then becomes Tottenham Court Road. It is so called because it leads from the north in the direction of Charing Cross at the south side of Trafalgar Square, which it connects via St Martin's Place and the motorised east side of the square.Charing Cross Theatre
The Charing Cross Theatre is a theatre under The Arches off Villiers Street below Charing Cross station. Founded in 1936, the venue occupied several premises in the West End of London before locating to its present site. The current site was once a famous Victorian music hall The Players' Theatre. It was refurbished in 2005 and reopened under new management in 2006 as The New Players Theatre, before being taken under new management by Broadway producer Steven M. Levy and Sean Sweeney in 2011 and the theatre once again had its name changed to the Charing Cross Theatre, with the Players Bar & Kitchen.
It is one of the smallest West End Theatres, rebuilt to meet the demands of national and international producers wanting a theatre which offers a degree of intimacy and is the equivalent of an Off Broadway space.
With the appointment of Thom Southerland as Artistic Director in 2016, Charing Cross Theatre announced it was turning into a producing house launching with a number of major musicals.Charing Cross railway station
Charing Cross railway station (also known as London Charing Cross) is a central London railway terminus between the Strand and Hungerford Bridge in the City of Westminster. It is the terminus of the South Eastern main line to Dover via Ashford. All trains are operated by Southeastern, which provides the majority of commuter and regional services to south-east London and Kent. It is connected to Charing Cross Underground station and is near to Embankment Underground station and Embankment Pier.
The station was originally opened by the South Eastern Railway in 1864. It takes its name from its proximity to the road junction Charing Cross, the notional "centre of London" from which distances from the city are measured. During the 19th century the station became the main London terminus for continental traffic via boat trains, and served several prestigious international services. It was badly damaged by engineering accident in 1905 and extensively rebuilt. It became an important meeting point for military and government traffic during World War I. By this time, Charing Cross station was seen as out of date by some politicians and proposals were made to replace Hungerford Bridge with a road bridge or road/rail combination, with the station moving to the south bank of the River Thames in the case of a road-only replacement. The station was bombed several times during World War II, and was rebuilt afterwards, re-opening in 1951. In the late 1980s, the station complex was redesigned by Terry Farrell and rebuilt to accommodate a modern office block, now known as Embankment Place.Charing Cross roof collapse
On 5 December 1905, the iron-and-glass overall arched roof of London Charing Cross railway station collapsed during a long-term maintenance project, killing six people.Charing Cross tube station
Charing Cross (sometimes informally abbreviated as Charing X) is a London Underground station at Charing Cross in the City of Westminster. The station is served by the Bakerloo and Northern lines and provides an interchange with Charing Cross mainline station. It has entrances in Trafalgar Square, Strand and in the mainline station. On the Bakerloo line it is between Embankment and Piccadilly Circus stations and on the Northern line it is between Embankment and Leicester Square stations. The station was served by the Jubilee line between 1979 and 1999, acting as the southern terminus of the line during that period. The station is in fare zone 1.
Charing Cross was originally two separate stations, known for most of their existence as Trafalgar Square and Strand. These were connected and given the current name when the Jubilee line opened.
The station is close to the National Gallery, the National Portrait Gallery, Admiralty Arch, St Martin-in-the-Fields, Canada House, South Africa House, the Savoy Hotel, The Mall, Northumberland Avenue and Whitehall.Embankment tube station
Embankment is a London Underground station in the City of Westminster, known by various names during its history. It is served by the Circle, District, Northern and Bakerloo lines. On the Northern and Bakerloo lines, the station is between Waterloo and Charing Cross stations; on the Circle and District lines, it is between Westminster and Temple and is in Travelcard Zone 1. The station has two entrances, one on Victoria Embankment and the other on Villiers Street. The station is adjacent to Victoria Embankment Gardens and is close to Charing Cross station, Embankment Pier, Hungerford Bridge, Cleopatra's Needle, the Royal Air Force Memorial, the Savoy Chapel and Savoy Hotel and the Playhouse and New Players Theatres.
The station is in two parts: sub-surface platforms opened in 1870 by the District Railway (DR) as part of the company's extension of the Inner Circle eastwards from Westminster to Blackfriars and deep-level platforms opened in 1906 by the Baker Street and Waterloo Railway (BS&WR) and 1914 by the Charing Cross, Euston and Hampstead Railway (CCE&HR). A variety of underground and main line services have operated over the sub-surface tracks and the CCE&HR part of the station was reconstructed in the 1920s. In 2014 major work commenced to replace the 80 year old escalators, they were refurbished once in the 1970. Work to replace them was difficult as they supported the station structure.Equestrian statue of Charles I, Charing Cross
The equestrian statue of Charles I at Charing Cross, London, is a work by the French sculptor Hubert Le Sueur, probably cast in 1633.
Its location at Charing Cross is on the former site of the most elaborate of the Eleanor crosses erected by Edward I, which had stood for three and a half centuries until 1647. Charing Cross is used to define the centre of London and a plaque by the statue indicates that road signage distances are measured from this point. The statue faces down Whitehall towards Charles I's place of execution at Banqueting House.The first Renaissance-style equestrian statue in England, it was commissioned by Charles's Lord High Treasurer Richard Weston for the garden of his country house in Roehampton, Surrey (now in South London). Following the English Civil War the statue was sold to a metalsmith to be broken down, but he hid it until the Restoration. It was installed in its current, far more prominent location in the centre of London in 1675, and the elaborately carved plinth dates from that time.Euston tube station
Euston is a London Underground station served by the Victoria line and both branches of the Northern line. It directly connects with Euston main line station above it. The station is in Travelcard Zone 1.
Euston was constructed as two separate underground stations. Three of the four Northern line platforms date from the station's opening in 1907. The fourth Northern line platform and the two Victoria line platforms were constructed in the 1960s when the station was significantly altered to accommodate the Victoria line. Plans for High Speed 2 and Crossrail 2 both include proposals to modify the station to provide interchanges with the new services.
On the Northern line's Bank branch the station is between Camden Town and King's Cross St Pancras. On the Charing Cross branch it is between Mornington Crescent and Warren Street. On the Victoria line it is between Warren Street and King's Cross St. Pancras. The station is near Euston Square station allowing connections at street level to the Circle, Hammersmith & City and Metropolitan lines.Hungerford Bridge and Golden Jubilee Bridges
The Hungerford Bridge crosses the River Thames in London, and lies between Waterloo Bridge and Westminster Bridge. Owned by Network Rail Infrastructure Ltd (who use its official name of Charing Cross Bridge) it is a steel truss railway bridge flanked by two more recent, cable-stayed, pedestrian bridges that share the railway bridge's foundation piers, and which are named the Golden Jubilee Bridges.The north end of the bridge is Charing Cross railway station, and is near Embankment Pier and the Victoria Embankment. The south end is near Waterloo station, County Hall, the Royal Festival Hall, and the London Eye. Each pedestrian bridge has steps and lift access.Leicester Square tube station
Leicester Square is a London Underground station in Theatreland and Chinatown, in the West End of London. It is located on Charing Cross Road, a short distance to the east of Leicester Square itself.
The station is on the Northern line, between Charing Cross and Tottenham Court Road, and the Piccadilly line, between Piccadilly Circus and Covent Garden. It is in Travelcard Zone 1.North Western and Charing Cross Railway
The North Western and Charing Cross Railway (NW&CCR) was a railway company established in 1864 to construct an underground railway in London. The NW&CCR was one of a large number of underground railway schemes proposed for London following the opening in 1863 of the Metropolitan Railway, the world's first underground railway, but was one of only a few to be authorised by Parliament. The company struggled to raise funding for the construction of its line and was twice renamed, to the Euston, St Pancras and Charing Cross Railway and the London Central Railway, before the proposals were abandoned in 1874.Queen Eleanor Memorial Cross
The Queen Eleanor Memorial Cross is a memorial to Eleanor of Castile erected in the forecourt of Charing Cross railway station, London, in 1864–1865. It is a fanciful reconstruction of the medieval Eleanor cross at Charing, one of several memorial crosses erected by Edward I of England in memory of his first wife. The Victorian monument was designed by Edward Middleton Barry, also the architect of the railway station, and includes multiple statues of Queen Eleanor by the sculptor Thomas Earp. It does not occupy the original site of the Charing Cross (destroyed in 1647), which is now occupied by Hubert Le Sueur's equestrian statue of Charles I.
Barry based the memorial on the three surviving drawings of the Charing Cross, in the Bodleian Library, the British Museum and the collection of the Royal Society of Antiquaries. However, due to the fragmentary nature of this evidence, he also drew from a wider range of sources including the other surviving Eleanor crosses and Queen Eleanor's tomb at Westminster Abbey. In this search for precedents Barry was assisted by his fellow architect Arthur Ashpitel. The coats of arms of England, León, Castile and Ponthieu appear on the monument.