Churchyard cross in St Kenelm's churchyard

Overview

Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1014417

Date first listed: 28-Jun-1996

Map

Ordnance survey map of Churchyard cross in St Kenelm's churchyard
© Crown Copyright and database right 2018. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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Location

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

County: Gloucestershire

District: Cotswold (District Authority)

Parish: Sapperton

National Grid Reference: SO9476103377

Summary

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 churchyard cross at Sapperton is believed to be in its original position. It is a good example of its class and survives well as a visually impressive monument of the medieval period.

History

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

Details

The monument includes a standing cross situated in the churchyard at Sapperton c.30m south of St Kenelm's Church. The churchyard slopes from south east to north west and the base is set into the slope. The cross has a square base step, a socket stone and shaft. The base of the step is 1.7m square and 0.5m high. Above this is the socket stone, square at the base running into an octagonal and then a circle. The base is 0.85m square and has a total height of 0.36m. The sides of the octagonal measure 0.3m, and the circle has a diameter of 0.7m. The socket for the shaft is 0.3m square. The shaft, square at the bottom, tapers and becomes cylindrical in section. It is 1.65m high, having a tenon on the top for inserting into the head. The base step is constructed from stone blocks. The socket stone appears more weathered and is hewn from one piece of stone. These have the appearance of great age, but the shaft appears less weather worn. The cross is considered to be 15th century. The cross is Listed Grade II.

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

Legacy

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

Legacy System number: 22100

Legacy System: RSM

Sources

Books and journals
Pooley, C, Notes on the Old Crosses of Gloucestershire, (1868), 61

End of official listing