Market cross in Market Square


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1014827

Date first listed: 30-Aug-1996


Ordnance survey map of Market cross in Market Square
© 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.
Use of this data is subject to Terms and Conditions.

The above map is for quick reference purposes only and may not be to scale. For a copy of the full scale map, please see the attached PDF - 1014827 .pdf

The PDF will be generated from our live systems and may take a few minutes to download depending on how busy our servers are. We apologise for this delay.

This copy shows the entry on 17-Oct-2018 at 05:05:10.


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

County: Gloucestershire

District: Cotswold (District Authority)

Parish: Stow-on-the-Wold

National Grid Reference: SP 19173 25750


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.

Despite the shaft and head having been restored, the standing cross in the market square survives well, with many of its original elements intact in what is likely to be its original location. Its position in the market square, where it forms a focal point, makes it an imposing monument, as it has done since the medieval period.


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


The monument includes a restored cross situated in the market square. The cross, which is Listed Grade II, has a square three step calvary, a socket stone, and restored shaft and head. The first step of the calvary is 2.25m wide and 0.45m high; the second step is 1.5m wide and 0.15m high; and the third step is 1.1m wide and 0.15m high. Above this is the square socket stone which has broaches (chamfers of angles to bring stone on the square plan to the octagonal) at its angles, forming an octagonal top. It is 0.8m wide and 0.45m high. The c.2m high shaft, square at the bottom, tapers to the restored lantern head and becomes octagonal in section. The calvary is constructed from stone blocks, while the socket stone appears more weathered and is hewn from one piece of stone. These appear to be old, but the shaft and head are more recent. The cross is thought to have been erected by the Chesters, a wealthy and important family in Stow who founded a chantry and probably built the church tower. Set into the socket stone on its north side is a plaque marking the restoration of the medieval market cross by public subscription in 1995. It states that the four panels of the cross head, restored by Richard Podd, depict the crucifiction, Edward the Confessor, the Civil War and the wool trade. On the south side is an inscription marking its restoration in 1878 and commemorating the gift of two thousand pounds by Joseph Chamberlayne to provide a supply of pure water for the parish. The cross was headless in the early 19th century and later became used as a lamp standard. The oldest parts of the cross are considered to be 14th century. The modern brick edging and paving stones around the base of the calvary, where they fall within the cross's protective margin, 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.


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

Legacy System number: 28522

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Pooley, C, Notes on the Old Crosses of Gloucestershire, (1868), 70
Pooley, C, Notes on the Old Crosses of Gloucestershire, (1868), 69

End of official listing