Waltham in Hertfordshire was one of twelve places at which Edward I built memorial crosses marking the resting-places along the route taken by the cortège bringing the body of his Queen, Eleanor of Castile, from Harby, Leicestershire, to Westminster Abbey. Waltham Cross was erected in 1291. By the end of the eighteenth century it had become celebrated as an antiquarian monument of great interest, and was drawn by a number of topographers. The study on this sheet records its appearance before a succession of restorations during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
A finished watercolour by Turner based on this drawing was with the Palser Gallery in 19051 and Messrs Leger in 1981. Although Finberg considered that it ‘looked like’ Edward Dayes’s work and suggested that this drawing was also by Dayes (1763–1804), there seems to be no internal evidence to support that attribution, though it should be noted that the inscription on the verso (D40240) is not in Turner’s hand. Another drawing of Waltham Cross is Tate D00356 (Turner Bequest XXII C).
Finberg 1909, I, p.35.