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The Wishing Chair Cross cross base at junction of Stakesby Road and Westbourne Road

List Entry Summary

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 Culture, Media and Sport.

Name: The Wishing Chair Cross cross base at junction of Stakesby Road and Westbourne Road

List entry Number: 1009851

Location

The monument may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: North Yorkshire

District: Scarborough

District Type: District Authority

Parish: Whitby

National Park: Not applicable to this List entry.

Grade: Not applicable to this List entry.

Date first scheduled: 13-Jan-1995

Date of most recent amendment: Not applicable to this List entry.

Legacy System Information

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

Legacy System: RSM

UID: 25646

Asset Groupings

This list entry does not comprise part of an Asset Grouping. Asset Groupings are not part of the official record but are added later for information.

List entry Description

Summary of Monument

Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

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 Wishing Chair cross survives as a base only but its position is original and so marks an important land boundary of Whitby Abbey.

History

Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Details

The monument includes a cross base known as the Wishing Chair situated on the pavement at the south side of the junction of Stakesby Road and Westbourne Road in Whitby. This was the base for a mile cross of the medieval period defining the approach to the abbey at Whitby. The cross base survives as a block of local fine yellow sandstone with an oblong depression cut into the top to serve as a socket and the north edge of the socket broken away to form what looks like a chair. The block measures 0.58m across and 0.55m deep and is 0.49m high from the surface of the pavement. The socket is 0.34m by 0.25m and 0.24m deep. There is a strong local tradition that a child seated in the chair will have their wish come true. The modern cross set up on the opposite side of the road in 1957 is a commemoration of the Festival of Britain and also defines the mile bounds of the abbey. Such crosses were common in the medieval period to mark the entrance of the holy precinct of a religious house. The place name Stoupe Cross Farm to the south east of the abbey may mark the location of another cross. The surface of the pavement, the telephone box and the wall on the south side are excluded from the scheduling but the ground beneath the cross is included.

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.

Selected Sources

Books and journals
Woodwark, T H, Crosses of the North York Moors, (1923), 25

National Grid Reference: NZ 88499 10981

Map

Map
© Crown Copyright and database right 2017. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2017. All rights reserved. Licence number 102006.006.
Use of this data is subject to Terms and Conditions.

The above map is for quick reference purposes only and may not be to scale. For a copy of the full scale map, please see the attached PDF - 1009851 .pdf

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This copy shows the entry on 25-Nov-2017 at 07:55:16.

End of official listing