Wick St Lawrence village cross
- Heritage Category:
- Scheduled Monument
- List Entry Number:
- Date first listed:
- Date of most recent amendment:
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This copy shows the entry on 22-Feb-2020 at 19:46:26.
The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
- North Somerset (Unitary Authority)
- Wick St. Lawrence
- National Grid Reference:
- ST 36605 65388
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 head and part of the shaft of the cross are missing, the village cross at Wick St Lawrence survives well as an imposing monument of the medieval period in what is likely to be its original location. Its position marks a crossroads which was likely to have been important in the medieval period. This is one of two crosses within sight of each other in the village.
The monument includes a cross situated at a crossroads in the village of Wick
St Lawrence c.50m south west of the porch of the church.
The cross has a base, a five step octagonal calvary, a socket stone and shaft. The base, composed of rough-cut stone, is on uneven ground and varies between 0.5m to 0.9m high, and is 5m in diameter. The first step of the calvary is splayed and recessed, the slabs forming the bench on its upper bed make a deep weather drip. The first step sits flush with the base and is therefore also 5m in diameter. It is 0.55m high, with each side of its octagon being 2m wide. The second and third steps are 0.4m and 0.35m high, and the fourth and fifth steps are both 0.3m high. The width of the octagonal sides of the second, third, fourth and fifth steps are 1.5m, 1.3m, 0.95m and 0.6m respectively. Above the fifth step of the calvary is the socket stone with a square base 0.95m in diameter and 0.72m high. This has four square shafts at its angles with projecting bases and caps, forming an octagonal upper bed. Each face of the socket stone has a recessed decoration of a pair of trefoil headed arches. The lead lined central socket is 0.4m square in which sits the shaft which is c.2m high. The shaft is square at its base, but then stopped and continues in octagonal form as it tapers upwards.
The calvary has been raised on its base some time in the last century. The calvary is constructed from stone blocks and mortared flagstones. The socket stone is hewn from one piece of stone. The cross apparently once had a ball head. The cross is Listed Grade II* and considered to date between 1350 and 1530.
Excluded from the scheduling are all metalled surfaces and furniture where these fall within the cross's protective margin, although the ground beneath them 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:
- Legacy System:
Books and journals
Pooley, C, Old Stone Crosses of Somerset, (1877), 25-26
This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.
End of official listing