chapter  6
The destruction of Cheap Cross, London (1643)
ByChristine Stevenson
Pages 14

On 2 May 1643, ten months after the first military action of the English Civil War, workmen began demolishing the City of London’s most prominent monument, the medieval Cross in Cheapside.The Cross had stood under military guard since a serious, and illegal, defacement in January the previous year, but now the ‘many souldiers and a troope of horses’ were there only to ‘keepe the peace’.1 The destruction, which took two or three days, was widely described, with approval or disgust, as a popular action. ‘Vox populi’ had spoken; ‘and when any of the images were pull’d downe’, a diarist reported, ‘the trumpets sounded and there was great shouting’.2 All of those present surely appreciated that the date chosen was, in the established Church of England’s Book of Common Prayer, that of the Invention (discovery) of the Cross, a feast day that many would have despised as ‘superstitious’. None of them would have disqualified the providential significance of the coincidence merely because it was humanly engineered.3