Charing Cross denotes the junction of the Strand, Whitehall and Cockspur Street, just south of Trafalgar Square in central London. It gives its name to several local landmarks, including Charing Cross railway station, one of the main London rail termini.
Trafalgar Square commemorates Horatio Nelson’s 1805 victory at the Battle of Trafalgar.
Trafalgar Square was built around the area formerly known as Charing Cross
The site of Trafalgar Square had been a significant landmark since the 13th century and originally contained the King’s Mews. After George IV moved the mews to Buckingham Palace, the area was redeveloped by John Nash, but progress was slow after his death, and the square did not open until 1844. The 169-foot (52 m) Nelson’s Column
at its centre is guarded by four lion statues. A number of commemorative statues and sculptures occupy the square, but the Fourth Plinth, left empty since 1840, has been host to contemporary art since 1999.
The square has been used for community gatherings and political demonstrations, including Bloody Sunday, the first Aldermaston March, anti-war protests, and campaigns against climate change. A Christmas tree has been donated to the square by Norway since 1947 and is erected for twelve days before and after Christmas Day.
The square is a centre of annual celebrations on New Year’s Eve. It was well known for its feral pigeons until their removals in the early 21st century.
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Charing Cross is named after the now demolished Eleanor cross that stood there, in what was once the hamlet of Charing. It was where King Edward I placed a memorial to his wife, Eleanor of Castile.
It was one of twelve places where Eleanor's coffin rested overnight during the funeral procession from Lincolnshire to her final resting-place at Westminster. At each of these, Edward erected an Eleanor cross
, of which only three now remain.
The original site of the cross has been occupied since 1675 by an equestrian statue of King Charles I. A Victorian replacement, in different style from the original, was later erected a short distance to the east outside the railway station.
Formerly, until 1931, Charing Cross also referred to the part of what is now Whitehall lying between Great Scotland Yard and Trafalgar Square. At least one property retains a Charing Cross postal address: Drummonds Bank, on the corner of Whitehall and The Mall, which is designated 49 Charing Cross
(not to be confused with the separate Charing Cross Road).
Since the second half of the 18th century, Charing Cross has been seen by some as the exact centre of London, being the main point used for measuring distances from London.
The railway station opened in 1864, fronted on the Strand with the Charing Cross Hotel. The original station building was built on the site of the Hungerford Market by the South Eastern Railway, designed by Sir John Hawkshaw, with a single span wrought iron roof arching over the six platforms on its relatively cramped site.
Charing Cross tube station has entrances located in Trafalgar Square and The Strand. The station is served by the Northern and Bakerloo lines, originally separate tube stations called Strand
and Trafalgar Square
, and provides an interchange with the National Rail network. The station was served by the Jubilee Line between 1979 and 1999, acting as the southern terminus of the line during that period.