Market cross on west side of Market Place

Overview

Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1014514

Date first listed: 13-Oct-1951

Date of most recent amendment: 15-May-1996

Map

Ordnance survey map of Market cross on west side of Market Place
© Crown Copyright and database right 2018. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2018. All rights reserved. Licence number 102006.006.
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Location

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

County: Leicestershire

District: Harborough (District Authority)

Parish: Billesdon

National Grid Reference: SK 71913 02822

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 market cross on the west side of Market Place is a good example of a 13th or 14th century standing cross with a roll moulded shaft. Situated in the former marketplace, it is believed to stand in or near its original position and limited activity in the area immediately surrounding the cross indicates that archaeological deposits relating to its construction and use in this location are likely to survive intact. While parts of the cross survive from medieval times, its subsequent restoration illustrates its continued function as a public monument and amenity.

History

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

Details

The monument includes the market cross, a standing stone cross located on the western side of Market Place in the village of Billesdon. The cross, which is Listed Grade II, includes a base, consisting of a plinth, a medieval socket stone and a modern socket stone, the shaft and a cross-head. It is probably 13th or 14th century in origin and has modern additions. The plinth, which is 1.2m square in plan, is constructed of separate blocks of stone and is of modern date. Resting on the plinth is what is believed to be the original medieval socket stone. It is also square in section with a rounded upper edge and is now surmounted by a modern cube-like socket stone. Set into the centre of this modern socket stone is the shaft, approximately 2m high, with a tapering square section and roll mouldings applied to each angle. The head of the cross takes the form of a fleur-de-lys and is thought to be 19th century in date. The full height of the cross is approximately 3.5m. The surface of the pathway to the east of the cross is 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.

Legacy

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

Legacy System number: 21649

Legacy System: RSM

Sources

Books and journals
Kelley, J W, The Medieval Markets and Fairs of Leicestershire, (1985), 18-19
Pevsner, N, The Buildings of England: Leicestershire and Rutland, (1960), 102

End of official listing