Churchyard cross in St Mary's churchyard


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1015508

Date first listed: 09-Nov-1974

Date of most recent amendment: 23-Dec-1996


Ordnance survey map of Churchyard cross in St Mary's churchyard
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2019. 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 - 1015508 .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-Feb-2019 at 21:41:57.


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

District: North Somerset (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Yatton

National Grid Reference: ST 43128 65396

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.

Although the shaft and cross head has been replaced, the standing cross in the churchyard at Yatton survives well as a visually impressive monument of the medieval period in what is likely to be its original location. Its massive structure and style of ornamentation qualifies it as an outstanding example of its class. Records of the church date the erection of the cross and its cost. The late 15th century cross relates to the construction of the south porch and the Newton Chapel in the Church of St Mary, the building work being attributed to Isabel de Chedder.


The monument includes a restored cross situated in the churchyard at Yatton c.6m SSE of the church porch. The cross, which is Listed Grade II, has a five step octagonal calvary, plinth, a socket stone and shaft with a decorated terminal surmounted by a lantern cross head. The first step of the calvary is 0.5m high, and the second, third, fourth and fifth steps are 0.4m, 0.35m, 0.32m and 0.3m high. The first step is 5.1m in diameter with mortared flagstones on its upper surface forming an overhanging drip, and each side of its octagon is 2.1m long. The width of the octagonal sides of the second, third, fourth and fifth steps are 1.8m, 1.5m, 1.2m and 1m respectively. Above the fifth step of the calvary is the plinth which is cut with triangular decoration at its angles. The plinth is 1.7m wide and 0.3m high with each side of its octagon being 0.7m long. The socket stone, which sits on the plinth, has a square base and convex broaches at its angles forming an octagonal top. It is 1.07m wide and 0.84m high with a central socket 0.4m square. On each face of the socket stone is the figure of an angel. The shaft is c.2.5m high, square at its base, but then stopped and continuing in octagonal form as it tapers to an ornamental terminal and cross head. The cross head has four recessed faces formed by moulded spires at its angles. On the west side is the Crucifixion, on the east the figure of Jesus, King Alfred is on the south side, and an ecclesiastical figure or saint on the north side. The lantern head is surmounted by a moulded spire. The calvary is constructed from stone blocks and mortared flagstones, and the socket stone is hewn from one piece of stone. Investigation by probing around the base of the cross at the time of the field visit showed that there appears to be a platform of stones around the cross and beneath the surface of the grass at a depth of c.0.2m and to a width of 0.45m from the edges of the calvary. These remains are included in the scheduling. In the mid-19th century the cross had no shaft and head. The shaft and lantern head is a replacement erected in 1919 when the cross was refurbished in commemoration of the men of Yatton who died in the First World War. Records of the church show that the cross was erected in 1499 and cost 18 pounds.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

This List entry has been amended to add the source for War Memorials Register. This source was not used in the compilation of this List entry but is added here as a guide for further reading, 10 January 2018.


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

Legacy System number: 28828

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Pooley, C, Old Stone Crosses of Somerset, (1877), 41-43
War Memorials Register, accessed 10 January 2018 from

End of official listing