Churchyard cross in St Allen churchyard, 2m south of the church


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1015074

Date first listed: 12-Sep-1950

Date of most recent amendment: 12-Nov-1996


Ordnance survey map of Churchyard cross in St Allen churchyard, 2m south of the church
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Cornwall (Unitary Authority)

Parish: St. Allen

National Grid Reference: SW 82243 50586


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.

This churchyard cross in St Allen churchyard has survived well, complete with its head, shaft and base, and close to its original location in the churchyard. It is a good example of a wheel headed cross. Its deliberate burial in the churchyard, probably at the Reformation, its rediscovery earlier this century and re-erection in the churchyard demonstrate well the changing attitudes to religion since the medieval period and their impact on the local landscape.


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


The monument includes a medieval churchyard cross situated to the south of St Allen church in west Cornwall. This is one of three crosses now present in the churchyard.

The churchyard cross, which is Listed Grade II, is visible as an upright granite shaft with a round or `wheel' head, set in a circular granite base. The cross base is set on the base stone of a cider press. The overall height of the monument is 2.22m. The head measures 0.39m high by 0.45m wide and is 0.21m thick. The principal faces are orientated east-west. Both principal faces are decorated with an equal limbed cross with splayed ends to the limbs, the limbs formed by four triangular sinkings. A narrow bead, 0.05m wide, decorates the outer edge of the head on both faces; this bead continues down the edges of the shaft. The shaft measures 1.52m high by 0.27m at the base widening to 0.33m at the top, and is 0.2m thick at the base widening slightly to 0.22m at the top. The shaft has a marked entasis or slight convex shaping to it, being slightly wider at the centre and tapering towards the top and base. It also has a distinct lean towards the south east, as does the base. Below the head, at the neck, are two rounded projections or bosses to either side of the shaft. They project 0.05m out from the side of the shaft. The shaft is mounted on a large circular granite base. This base measures 0.75m north-south by 0.88m east-west and is 0.25m high. The cross base is set on the circular base of a cider press, 1m in diameter, and between 0.06m to 0.15m high above ground level; the base leans to the south east.

This churchyard cross was found in 1930 buried close to the south porch of the church. It was re-erected in the churchyard to the east of the south porch, on top of the base stone of the cider press.

The gravel surface of the footpath to the north, south and west of the cross, and the headstones to the north west and north east fall within the cross's protective margin and are excluded from the scheduling, but the ground beneath 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: 29206

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Langdon, A, Stone Crosses in Mid Cornwall, (1994)
Consulted 1995, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN No. 32071.23,
Title: 1:25000 Ordnance Survey Map; SW 85/95; Pathfinder 1353 Source Date: 1983 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:

End of official listing