Village cross and lock-up, Deeping St James


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:


Ordnance survey map of Village cross and lock-up, Deeping St James
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

South Kesteven (District Authority)
Deeping St. James
National Grid Reference:
TF 15807 09490

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 medieval village cross at Deeping St James is a rare example of a cross which has been converted for another use. The steps of the cross were rebuilt in the early 19th century to create an internal chamber which served as a lock-up; both the interior and exterior of this structure survive in good condition, including chains and other iron fittings. The medieval cross-base which survives above the chamber is ornamented with well-preserved architectural panels. The cross is believed to stand in or near its original position, and limited disturbance of the area immediately surrounding the structure indicates that archaeological deposits relating to the monument's construction and use in this location are likely to survive intact. The restoration of the medieval cross as an unusual 19th-century building has resulted in its continued function as a public monument and amenity from medieval times to the present day.


The monument includes the medieval village cross of Deeping St James, which was rebuilt as a lock-up in 1819. It stands at the road junction south of the church and takes the form of a small stone-built chamber surrounded by two steps and surmounted by a medieval cross-base and modern terminal.

The steps are square in plan and are constructed of flat slabs resting on coursed limestone and sandstone. The lower step is about 3.7m square and stands up to 0.5m above the surrounding paving. Both steps terminate on the eastern side of the building, and there is a gap on the northern side at the entrance to the internal chamber, which is reached by a wooden door. The chamber is lined with whitewashed brick and there is a recess in each of the east, south and west walls forming a series of seats with chains. This chamber dates from 1819 when the cross was rebuilt as a lock-up. Immediately above the door lintel is the roof of the chamber, formed on the inside of a tapering, brick-built cone and on the outside of a chamfered plinth upon which the medieval cross-base rests. The cross-base consists of a quadrangular slab of worn limestone, the sides of which are ornamented with architectural panels in the Perpendicular style of the 15th century. This stone is now surmounted by a band of crenellation inscribed with crosses and the words 'REBUILT 1819'. Behind the crenellation is a chamfered plinth of quadrangular section upon which rests another slab, sharply chamfered, which tapers upwards to a carved architectural fragment and a modern street lamp. The height of the cross is about 4m.

The monument includes a 1m margin around the cross which is essential for the monument's support and preservation. The modern paving surrounding the cross is excluded from the scheduling although the ground beneath it is included.

The cross is also Listed Grade I.

MAP EXTRACT 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.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number:
Legacy System:


Books and journals
Pevsner, N, John, H, The Buildings of England: Lincolnshire, (1964), 511
Davies, D S, 'Lincolnshire Notes and Queries' in Ancient Stone Crosses in Kesteven, , Vol. XII no.5, (1913), 136-138
Listed Building Description, Village Cross Ref. TF 1409-1509 14/74, (1968)


This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

End of official listing

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