Abbots Bromley market cross


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


Ordnance survey map of Abbots Bromley market 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.

East Staffordshire (District Authority)
Abbots Bromley
National Grid Reference:
SK 08039 24573

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.

Abbots Bromley market cross survives well and is a good example of a structure which has its origins in the medieval period. The cross stands in 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 are likely to survive intact. The buried remains of the original market house and cross which date from at least the early 14th century are thought to survive beneath the ground surface and, together with the present structure, these remains will provide important information for the historical development and form of this type of monument. The restoration of the market cross itself illustrates its continued function as a public monument and amenity from at least the 17th century to the present day.


The monument includes the 16th or 17th century market cross of Abbots Bromley which is Listed Grade II*. It stands within the market place and takes the form of a hexagonal timber structure with a tiled roof and is surmounted by a timber finial. A market was first established in Abbots Bromley in 1222 when the abbots of Burton were empowered to hold a weekly market here; this was confirmed by royal charter in 1227. During the early 14th century a stone market house, described as a new building, stood in the market place and a cross is mentioned in the mid 14th century. These structures are thought to be the predecessors to the present structure and will survive as buried features. The market cross, or butter cross as it is also known, is an open-sided structure with an hexagonal plan. It has a patterned cobble floor and this is included in the scheduling. The pyramidal tiled roof has lead flashings and is supported by curved braces and seven timber stanchions or pillars, several of which have been partly restored. They are hexagonal in section and sit on stone pads at each angle of the building with one pillar in the centre. This central pillar continues above the roof where it forms an ornamental finial. The surfaces of the road, pavement and adjacent car park are excluded from the scheduling although the ground beneath these features is included. The noticeboard attached to the central pillar is also excluded.

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.

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Books and journals
Rice, M A, Abbots Bromley, (1939), 11


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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