Churchyard cross, St Mary's churchyard, Winthorpe


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1014427

Date first listed: 21-May-1996


Ordnance survey map of Churchyard cross, St Mary's churchyard, Winthorpe
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Lincolnshire

District: East Lindsey (District Authority)

Parish: Skegness

National Grid Reference: TF 55906 65832


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 St Mary's Church, Winthorpe, is a good example of a medieval standing cross with a stepped base and carved socket stone. Situated to the south east of the south porch it is believed to stand in or near its original position. Minimal disturbance of the area immediately surrounding the cross indicates that archaeological deposits relating to the monument's construction and use in this location are likely to survive intact. While parts of the cross survive from medieval times, subsequent restoration has resulted in its continued function as a public monument and amenity.


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


The monument includes the standing stone cross located in the churchyard of St Mary's Church, Winthorpe, to the south east of the south porch. The cross is medieval in origin with modern additions, all of limestone. The monument includes the base, comprising three steps and a socket stone, the shaft, knop and head.

The base includes three steps, all square in plan and composed of rectangular blocks held together by mortar. On the top step rests the socket stone, a single block of square section with a chamfered upper edge. On each side of the socket stone is carved a quatrefoil panel. The steps and socket stone are all of medieval date. Attached to the socket stone is a series of modern bronze plaques recording the restoration of the cross as a war memorial in 1920. Set into the socket stone with mortar is the lower part of the shaft, rectangular in section at the base and rising above moulded and chamfered corners in tapering octagonal section to a height of 0.93m. This part of the shaft is also medieval. The remainder of the shaft, which brings it to a height of 1.91m, is modern. The knop is octagonal in section and supports a small plinth on which stands a gabled cross of tapering octagonal section with openwork decoration between the arms; both the knop and head are modern. The full height of the cross is approximately 4.8m.

The monument includes a 1m boundary around the cross which is essential for the monument's support and preservation.

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.

This List entry has been amended to add sources for War Memorials Online and the War Memorials Register. These sources were not used in the compilation of this List entry but are added here as a guide for further reading, 16 August 2017.


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

Legacy System number: 22710

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Davies, D S, 'Lincolnshire Notes & Queries' in Ancient Stone Crosses in Lindsey and Holland Divisions of Lincs, , Vol. XIII no8, (1915), 226-227
War Memorials Online, accessed 23 January 2017 from
War Memorials Register, accessed 16 August 2017 from

End of official listing