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 south side of Market Place survives well and is a good
example of an unusual post-medieval structure on a site that has its origins
in the medieval period. Situated in the former marketplace, it is believed to
stand in the original location of the market cross and provides information on
the historical development and form of this type of monument. Limited
development of the area immediately surrounding the cross indicates that
archaeological deposits relating to the present monument's construction and
use are likely to survive intact and it is thought likely that deposits
relating to the earlier monuments on this site will be present beneath it.
Modern restoration work on the cross illustrates its continued function as
a public monument and amentity from the 18th century onwards.
The monument includes the market cross, a rotunda located on the south
side of Market Place in the town of Mountsorrel. The cross, which is Listed
Grade II*, takes the form of a small open-sided peristyle structure surmounted
by a finial and is principally late-18th century in date.
The cross stands on a slightly raised circular platform, which is
approximately 6.5m in diameter and has a stone-flagged floor. The entablature
and roof are supported by eight Doric columns which stand on stone pads. These
columns consist of sandstone blocks and have been strengthened in places with
iron tie-bands. The domed roof is cased in lead with a plastered interior and
is surmounted by a stone vase-shaped finial.
Documentary references indicate that a charter allowing a market to be held in
Mountsorrel was granted by Edward I in 1292. The original market cross was
moved by Sir John Danvers in the late-18th century to Swithland Park,
approximately 3km to the south west of Mountsorrel, for `safekeeping'and the
present structure, designed by William Thomas, was erected in its place in
The surfaces of all modern roads and pavements and the concrete bollards are
excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath these features is
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.