I am fascinated by the creation, marking and use of public space. The centre of many towns and cities had Market or High Crosses which were the focus for communities. This is from Francis Watkins and the Dollond Telescope Patent Controversy describes the region near Charring Cross/Trafalgar Square in central London. The latter continues to be the centre of the city for public events, demonstrations, protests. The following quote shows it is the space, not what’s in it that matters, and that use is surprisingly consistent. Or perhaps not surprising.
The shops,taverns, coffee houses and residences that made up the local community had, as their principal focus, the famous bronze equestrian statue of Charles I – the oldest statue in the capital still in situ today – erected by Christopher wren in 1674 on the former site of an Eleanor Cross. Proclamations were read from here, even as late as 1901 when the death of Queen Victoria was announced. Congregations were common on these public occasions
The Eleanor Cross was the last resting place for Queen Eleanor, wife of Edward I in 1292 but was destroyed by The Commonwealth. As can be seen from the image, it has a wreath on it, so acts as a war memorial, as well as being the point from which all distances from London are measured. You can see Nelson’s column & Trafalgar Square behind.
Image Richard Croft, used under Creative Commons licence