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.
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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.