Market Cross


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1012658

Date first listed: 24-Jul-1995


Ordnance survey map of Market Cross
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2019. 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 - 1012658 .pdf

The PDF will be generated from our live systems and may take a few minutes to download depending on how busy our servers are. We apologise for this delay.

This copy shows the entry on 18-Jan-2019 at 03:19:53.


The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Staffordshire

District: Staffordshire Moorlands (District Authority)

Parish: Leek

National Grid Reference: SJ 98390 56544


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 market cross in Leek is a good example of a post-medieval standing cross with an ornamental socket-stone and a complete cross-head. While much of the cross survives from post-medieval times, subsequent restoration has ensured that the historical context of the cross as a focal point and public amenity within Leek town centre has continued to the present day.


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


The monument includes the Market Cross, a standing stone cross located in the southern part of the marketplace in the town of Leek. The cross is Listed Grade II and includes a 19th century plinth, and a socket-stone, shaft and head, which are post medieval in date. The plinth is cross-shaped in plan and dates from the 19th century restoration of the cross when it was moved from its original position in the town centre to Leek cemetery. In 1986 the cross was returned to the town centre and erected in a different location within the marketplace. The socket-stone rests on the central part of the plinth and has a circular section with a scalloped decoration around its base. Set into the middle of the socket-stone is the shaft, square in section and fluted on all four sides. The shaft tapers upwards to a knop; above which, is the cross-head. The head takes the form of a crucifix with a raised central boss on the north and south faces. During the 19th century the name `JOLIFFE' (the family name of the Lords of Leek during the 16th century) was visible on one arm of the cross-head. The shaft and the head, together, stand approximately 3.6m high. The modern paving around the cross and the street furniture 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 2 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: 21608

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Sleigh, J, The History of Leek, (1862), 28

End of official listing