Quainton medieval standing cross


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1015267

Date first listed: 30-May-1938

Date of most recent amendment: 26-Jul-1996


Ordnance survey map of Quainton medieval standing cross
© 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 - 1015267 .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 12-Dec-2018 at 18:29:37.


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

County: Buckinghamshire

District: Aylesbury Vale (District Authority)

Parish: Quainton

National Grid Reference: SP 74657 20149


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.

Quainton Cross is a good example of a late medieval standing cross with square stepped base and octagonal shaft. Situated on the north of The Green, it is believed to stand in its original position. Minimal disturbance to 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. Unobtrusive repairs to the cross in recent years have ensured that it remains in use as a public monument and amenity.


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


The monument, a Grade II* Listed standing stone cross, is located on the northern edge of Quainton village green. The cross is of stepped form and medieval in origin, with minor repairs of later date. It includes the base, composed of three steps, surmounted by the socket stone and the remains of the shaft.

The flight of steps forming the base is roughly square in plan, and stands on a bonded raft of large pebbles and rubble, measuring approximately 2.4m by 2.6m. The steps are constructed from large rectangular sandstone blocks, the lowest step rising by about 0.45m and topped with flagstones of the same material. The second and third steps ascend in pyramidal form, each rising by c.0.23m and the latter supporting the socket stone: a square stone block measuring c.0.7m across and about 0.48m high, topped by a matching flagstone into which the shaft is set. The truncated shaft lacks both knop and head, and stands to a height of c.1.2m. There are no records of the original appearance of the cross, nor of the events which led to the shortening of the shaft. Despite the weathered appearance of the shaft, the original octagonal section can still be seen, and the broach stops at the base are still apparent. The cross is thought to date from the 15th century, and may be contemporary with alterations to the nearby parish Church of St Mary the Virgin and Holy Cross, which utilised similar stone.

The stone slabs and cobbles forming part of the path on the northern side of the monument are 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.


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

Legacy System number: 27150

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Lipscomb, G, History and Antiquities of Buckinghamshire, (1847), 401
Page, F (ed), The Victoria History of the County of Buckinghamshire, (1914), 92-98
DOE, List of Buildings of Historic & Architectural Interest,
RCHME, An Inventory of the Monuments of Buckinghamshire, (1914)

End of official listing