Charing Cross denotes the junction of the Strand, Whitehall and Cockspur Street, just south of Trafalgar Square in Westminster within Central London, England. It is named after the site of a long demolished Eleanor cross (now occupied by a statue of King Charles I mounted on a horse) located at the former hamlet of Charing, at this point. It is the central datum point for measuring distances from London.
"Erect a rich and stately carved cross, Whereon her statue shall with glory shine; And henceforth see you call it Charing Cross." George Peele The Famous Chronicle of King Edward the First (1593).
The name originates from the Eleanor cross erected between the former hamlet of Charing and the entrance to the Royal Mews of the Palace of Whitehall in 1291-4 by King Edward I as a memorial to his wife, Eleanor of Castile. The cross was the work of the medieval sculptor, Alexander of Abingdon.
Originally built in wood, it was quickly replaced with a stone and marble monument. The name of the hamlet is derived from the old English word cierring, referring to the large bend in the River Thames, nearby.
Since 1675 the site of the cross has been occupied by a statue of King Charles I mounted on a horse.
That original position of the cross is recognised by modern convention as the centre of London for the purpose of indicating distances by road in favour of other previous 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 contemporary maps as a road junction, though it was previously also 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 as part of the Whitehall thoroughfare.
The Cross has given its name to a railway station, a hotel, a hospital - founded locally, a police station; and two places of entertainment, the Charing Cross Theatre and the Charing Cross Music Hall (which lay beneath the arches of the station). Charing Cross Road the main route from the north (which becomes the east side of Trafalgar Square) was named for the railway station which was a major destination for traffic, rather than for the original cross.
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