Market cross in the marketplace to the west of St Wilfrid's Church, Standish


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1014117

Date first listed: 22-Apr-1996


Ordnance survey map of Market cross in the marketplace to the west of St Wilfrid's Church, Standish
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Wigan (Metropolitan Authority)

National Grid Reference: SD 56264 10241


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 at Standish survives in good condition in spite of the replacement of the shaft and head. It stands in its original location in a place with a high public profile and is well preserved in its immediate environment as an historic feature of the town.


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


The monument includes a medieval cross base on a flight of three steps in the market place to the west of St Wilfrid's Church, Standish. It stands in an area of restored cobbles and setts which also includes a set of stocks to the north of the cross and small stone bollards on the west and east sides. The cross is Listed Grade II. The steps form a square platform 2.35m wide at the base. The first step is almost buried in the stone setts around it. It stands 0.23m high on the north side but is level with the ground surface on the south side. The second step is 2m wide and 0.2m high. The third step is 1.45m wide and 0.22m high. This is surmounted by the cross base formed out of a single block of local gritstone which is 0.74m X 0.7m at the bottom and slightly rounded off at the corners on the top where it tapers to the shape of the cross shaft. At one time the shaft was integral to the base being carved out of the same block of stone. The base now stands 0.46m high. This whole construction including the steps is late medieval in date. There is now a more modern cross shaft of sandstone cemented onto the base. The cross stands 1m from the road surface on the west side with protective bollards 0.5m from the edge of the bottom step. The stocks are 0.4m to the north. The road surface, the stocks and the stone bollards 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: 25717

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Taylor, H, The Ancient Crosses and Holy Wells of Lancashire, (1906), 44-45

End of official listing