Churchyard cross 20m south of Chittlehampton church


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:


Ordnance survey map of Churchyard cross 20m south of Chittlehampton church
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

North Devon (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SS 63599 25553

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.

Although the original cross 20m south of Chittlehampton church was removed from the socket stone, the socket stone itself still remains in the churchyard at Chittlehampton and, unusually contains a precise replica of the original cross, now located elsewhere.


This monument includes a churchyard cross standing 20m south of Chittlehampton church and 5m north west of the lychgate. The monument survives as a socket stone, mounted upon a plinth with two brick steps to the eastern side, and a replica stone cross which replaces the original one. This was removed by the Rolle family and is now in a wayside location (Hudscott Cross) nearby. The socket stone is thought to date to the 14th or 15th centuries. It is a tall stone, square at the base, octagonal above and with corner shoulders, each of which is grooved down the centre. It measures 0.79m square by 0.52m high and the socket hole is 0.42m square. The socket stone seems to have a brick foundation and there are two brick steps up to it on the eastern side. This brick foundation measures 1.4m long by 0.82m wide and 0.33m high and is built into the sloping hillside of the churchyard. The socket stone now appears to have an inscription applied to the eastern side, probably dedicating the cross to a particular rector, although this is now almost illegible, and does not appear to have damaged the socket stone. Within the socket stone a replica of the nearby Hudscott Cross was placed in 1909. This is a Latin cross with a collar just below the arms, a tapering shaft and an incised Latin cross decoration on the eastern side. The cross is square at the base, approximately 0.42m thick and tapers upwards. Beneath the arms is the collar which is 0.32m thick. The arms are 0.56m wide, the width of the head is some 0.3m and the cross is 1.9m high. The cross shaped recess on the eastern side is 0.05m wide at the base, 0.2m wide at the arms, 0.3m long and 0.02m deep. The cross is Listed Grade II.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.


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

Legacy System number:
Legacy System:


Books and journals
Masson Phillips, E M, 'Transactions of the Devonshire Association' in The Ancient Stone Crosses of Devon, Part 2, , Vol. 70, (1938), 310-311
Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SS62NW-013, (1982)
MPP fieldwork by H. Gerrard, (1994)


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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