Take part in the Queen Eleanor Cycle Ride through Grantham
Charity cyclists will pass through Grantham as they take part in the 11th annual Queen Eleanor Cycle Ride to London this year.
Organisers are looking for more cyclists to take part over the August bank holiday weekend, raising money for The Connection at St Martin’s, supporting homeless and vulnerable people in central London.
The four-day ride takes place from Friday to Monday, August 23 to 26. The first overnight stop is in Grantham after the group sets off from Harby where Edward 1’s Eleanor Queen of Castille died in 1290.
Accommodation is in church halls, with all food and back up transport for luggage and emergencies provided. This year the aim is to top a grand total of £200,000 since the very first bike ride.
King Edward 1 arranged for Eleanor’s body to be carried to London with crosses bearing statues of the Queen - the Queen Eleanor Crosses - to be erected at places where the procession stopped overnight. Retracing the route of the funeral cortege, the ride pays a visit to Eleanor’s tomb in Lincoln Cathedral with a fine tea at Brant Broughton Quaker Meeting House.
In Grantham the cyclists will stay at Harrowby Lane Methodist Church, visiting the site of the Eleanor Cross, now occupied by a statue of Isaac Newton. Organisers hope that by the end of this summer Grantham Civic Society will have pinpointed the exact location of the base of the Eleanor Cross on St Peter’s Hill Green. They have been awarded a grant of £2,000 by InvestSK through South Kesteven’s Heritage Alive! Fund to carry out a community archaeological geophysics investigation of the site.
Saturday’s route takes in Stamford where all that remains of the original cross is a stone rose in the local museum. Then it’s onwards to Fotheringhay and Geddington, where one of the three surviving crosses still stands proudly in the centre of the village. There’s a grand arrival in style, flanked by ‘Queen Eleanor’, a 1953 vintage fire engine maintained by the Geddington Volunteer Fire Brigade.
Next stop is the Methodist Church in Stony Stratford (the site of another Cross, long gone thanks to Oliver Cromwell), before the route follows Milton Keynes’ cycle paths. There’s the challenge of cycling up Bow Brickhill, not for faint hearted, the steepest climb of the trip and on to Woburn passing the site of the Woburn Cross. Sunday night is spent resting aching limbs sleeping on the floor of Dunstable Methodist Church, across the road from the site of yet another cross and a shopping centre named after Queen Eleanor.
Monday’s itinerary includes St Albans, where the Clocktower stands on the site of the Cross and Waltham Cross, which after heavy restoration the Queen Eleanor Cross now adorns the shopping precinct.
Finally the cyclists will ride down the Lea Valley Navigation tow path to Westminster Abbey, with a short service by Eleanor’s tomb in the shrine of St Edward the Confessor. The final leg is via the last of the 12 Eleanor Crosses, Charing Cross, a Victorian replica built in the nineteenth century to market a new hotel, and into The Connection at St Martin-in-the-Fields, the object of the fund-raising.
Charles Woodd, Chair of the Friends of the Connection, said: “The number of people sleeping rough in central London every night sadly keeps growing. It’s doubled in just five years. The Connection at St Martin’s provides a range of vital services to help homeless and vulnerable people take the steps they need to in order to get back into society.”
Keith Busfield, from Stamford, added: “As someone who doesn’t need to worry about having a roof over my head nor food to eat, I am very proud to be able to support those who go out and help homeless people to rebuild their lives.”
For every £100 raised it gives someone homeless two nights in the warmth and safety of an emergency Night Centre, with showers, hot nutritious food, and a 1-2-1 support session with a keyworker.
Anybody who would like to take part in this year’s cycle ride can register by visiting www.queeneleanorcycleride.org.uk