Standing cross in St Luke's churchyard, Farnworth, beside the south porch


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1013781

Date first listed: 15-Dec-1995


Ordnance survey map of Standing cross in St Luke's churchyard, Farnworth, beside the south porch
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This copy shows the entry on 21-Nov-2018 at 20:42:59.


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

District: Halton (Unitary Authority)

National Grid Reference: SJ 51708 87738


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.

Despite the loss of its original shaft, the plinth and base of this cross survive well. The cross stands in its original position on the south side of the church and served to remind the medieval traveller or local inhabitant of the sanctity of that enclosure.


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


The monument includes a cross in the churchyard of the parish Church of St Luke at Farnworth in Widnes. The cross has a medieval base and plinth on which a sandstone cross with a broken lantern was constructed in the restorations of the church in the last decade of the 19th century. The plinth measures 1.3m by 1.34m and stands only 0.09m above the turf. It is constructed of sandstone blocks and was mortared together. The base is a single block of sandstone 0.75m by 0.76m and stands 0.18m high above the plinth. This has a socket hole measuring 0.38m by 0.38m which now houses the restored cross shaft and broken lantern. The shaft and lantern are 2.87m high. The shaft is square and is cut into an octagonal section above the base. The Victorian work is of good quality. The metal posts for the church signboard and a tombstone of 1812 1m to the south east are excluded from the scheduling although the ground beneath 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: 25704

Legacy System: RSM

End of official listing