St Ives Cross


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


Ordnance survey map of St Ives Cross
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

South Holland (District Authority)
Sutton St. James
National Grid Reference:
TF 38906 18154

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.

St Ives Cross is a good example of a medieval standing cross with a stepped base. It is rare in having angle brackets, an unusual feature of standing crosses. Situated at a road junction on the west side of the village of Sutton St James, it is believed to stand in or near its original position, which the local name `Butter Cross' may indicate was the site of a market. It is documented from the 16th century onwards and the limited activity in 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 continued in use as a public monument and amenity from medieval times to the present day.


The monument includes St Ives Cross, a standing stone cross located on a small green at the road junction on the western edge of the village of Sutton St James. The cross, also known as the Butter Cross, is of stepped form and is principally medieval in date. The monument includes the base, comprising four steps and a socket stone, a fragment of the shaft and three supporting buttresses.

The base of the cross includes four steps, all octagonal in plan, constructed of large slabs of worn limestone. The lowest step is surrounded by a layer of flagstones, also octagonal in plan, visible on the east, south and west sides to a depth of nearly 0.5m. On the north side the top of the lowest step is nearly level with the present ground surface. Set onto the top step with mortar is the socket stone, a single limestone block of square section. The upper edge of the stone is chamfered. Rising from the centre of the socket stone is the shaft fragment, of octagonal section with chamfered corners and reaching a maximum height of 0.51m above the socket stone. Resting against the chamfers on three sides of the shaft are three crocketed stone brackets in the form of small flying buttresses. Those on the north east and south east are broken off below the top of the shaft fragment, while that on the north west stands to its original height of 0.64m. In the upper surface of the socket stone on the south west side of the shaft is a small hole into which a fourth bracket was formerly fixed. The full height of the cross is nearly 2m. St Ives Cross is Listed Grade II.

The modern surface of the road and adjacent kerb on the north side of the cross are excluded from the scheduling although the ground beneath these features 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.


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), 687
'Kelly's Directory' in Kelly's Directory of Lincolnshire, (1909), 153
Davies, D S, 'Lincolnshire Notes & Queries' in Ancient Stone Crosses in Lindsey and Holland Divisions of Lincs, , Vol. XIII no7, (1915), 218
Stukeley, W, 'Itinerarium Curiosum' in Ivy Cross by Romans bank in Sutton St James Parish Holland Lincs, ()
details of maps seen 16th c + later, Losco-Bradley, P.M., FMW Report, (1988)


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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