Churchyard cross in St John The Evangelist's churchyard


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:


Ordnance survey map of Churchyard cross in St John The Evangelist's churchyard
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

North Somerset (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference:
ST 41606 68969

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 cross head has been replaced, the standing cross in the churchyard at Kenn survives well as a visually impressive monument of the medieval period in what is likely to be its original location. The medieval cross relates to the Church of St John The Evangelist which had its origins in the Norman period, but is mainly 13th century.


The monument includes a restored cross situated in the churchyard at Kenn 6.2m south east of the south porch of the church. The cross, which is Listed Grade II, has a four step octagonal calvary, socket stone, shaft, decorated finial and simple floriated cross head. The stones of the calvary have moved over time causing a variation in measurements. The first step of the calvary is between 0.35m and 0.4m high, the second, third and fourth steps are 0.3m to 0.35m, 0.3m and 0.25m high. The first step is 3.2m in diameter with a deep drip on its upper bed and a set-off at its lower, the sides of its octagon varying between 1.3m and 1.5m wide. Above the fourth step of the calvary is the socket stone. The socket stone has a square base with buttresses at its angles forming an octagonal top. It is 0.8m wide and 0.53m high. The lead lined central socket is 0.35m square in which is cemented the 0.3m square base of the shaft. The shaft is c.2.2m high; its square base is stopped and the shaft continues in octagonal form as it tapers to a triple filleted finial with lattice decoration and simple floriated cross head. The calvary is constructed from stone blocks, and the socket stone is hewn from one piece of stone. In the 19th century the cross head was a square block bearing a sundial, but the cross was restored in 1920 when the present cross head was erected. A plaque recording the restoration lies on the north side of the cross. The cross is dated to the early 14th century.

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:
Legacy System:


Books and journals
Pooley, C, Old Stone Crosses of Somerset, (1877), 153


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

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