Reasons for Designation
A standing cross is a free standing upright structure, usually of stone,
mostly erected during the medieval period (mid 10th to mid 16th centuries AD).
Standing crosses served a variety of functions. In churchyards they served as
stations for outdoor processions, particularly in the observance of Palm
Sunday. Elsewhere, standing crosses were used within settlements as places for
preaching, public proclamation and penance, as well as defining rights of
sanctuary. Standing crosses were also employed to mark boundaries between
parishes, property, or settlements. A few crosses were erected to commemorate
battles. Some crosses were linked to particular saints, whose support and
protection their presence would have helped to invoke. Crosses in market
places may have helped to validate transactions. After the Reformation, some
crosses continued in use as foci for municipal or borough ceremonies, for
example as places for official proclamations and announcements; some were the
scenes of games or recreational activity.
Standing crosses were distributed throughout England and are thought to have
numbered in excess of 12,000. However, their survival since the Reformation
has been variable, being much affected by local conditions, attitudes and
religious sentiment. In particular, many cross-heads were destroyed by
iconoclasts during the 16th and 17th centuries. Less than 2,000 medieval
standing crosses, with or without cross-heads, are now thought to exist. The
oldest and most basic form of standing cross is the monolith, a stone shaft
often set directly in the ground without a base. The most common form is the
stepped cross, in which the shaft is set in a socket stone and raised upon a
flight of steps; this type of cross remained current from the 11th to 12th
centuries until after the Reformation. Where the cross-head survives it may
take a variety of forms, from a lantern-like structure to a crucifix; the more
elaborate examples date from the 15th century. Much less common than stepped
crosses are spire-shaped crosses, often composed of three or four receding
stages with elaborate architectural decoration and/or sculptured figures; the
most famous of these include the Eleanor crosses, erected by Edward I at the
stopping places of the funeral cortege of his wife, who died in 1290. Also
uncommon are the preaching crosses which were built in public places from the
13th century, typically in the cemeteries of religious communities and
cathedrals, market places and wide thoroughfares; they include a stepped base,
buttresses supporting a vaulted canopy, in turn carrying either a shaft and
head or a pinnacled spire. Standing crosses contribute significantly to our
understanding of medieval customs, both secular and religious, and to our
knowledge of medieval parishes and settlement patterns. All crosses which
survive as standing monuments, especially those which stand in or near their
original location, are considered worthy of protection.
The churchyard cross at Stapleford is a good example of the chamfered
quadrangular base of a medieval standing cross. Situated on the south side of
the church, it is believed to stand in or near its original position. Limited
disturbance of the area immediately surrounding the cross indicates that
archaeological deposits relating to the monument's construction and use are
likely to survive intact. The cross has not been restored and has continued in
use as a public monument and amenity from medieval times to the present day.
The monument includes a standing stone cross located in the churchyard of All
Saints Church, Stapleford, approximately 10m south of the nave. The cross is
medieval in date and is constructed of limestone. The monument includes the
base, comprising a socket-stone, and a fragment of the shaft.
The cross stands in a slight hollow in the churchyard, which slopes away to
the south. The socket-stone is roughly 0.74m square in section with moulded
and chamfered corners rising to an upper surface of octagonal section. It now
reaches a maximum height of 0.32m above the present ground surface, the lower
part of the stone being buried. On the upper surface of the stone is a hole
of rectangular section into which the shaft fragment is placed. The shaft
fragment is narrower in section than the hole in which it stands and reaches a
maximum height of 0.25m.
This cross is also Listed Grade II.
The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 1 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.