Churchyard cross in St Mary the Virgin's churchyard


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


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

Malvern Hills (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SO 84821 49096

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.

The churchyard cross in St Mary the Virgin's churchyard is a good example of a medieval standing cross with a square stepped base and an unusual sub- octagonal shaped socket stone. Situated close to the northern entrance to the churchyard it is believed to stand in or near its original location. Whilst only the base and socket stone have survived from medieval times, the subsequent restoration of the cross, with the addition of the shaft, the knop and the head, illustrates the continued function of the cross as a public monument and amenity.


The monument includes a standing stone cross, located within the churchyard of St Mary the Virgin's Church, approximately 21m to the north of the north porch. The cross, which is Listed Grade II, is of stepped form, and is principally medieval in date with some later additions. The monument includes a base of two steps and a socket stone, the shaft, the knop and the head.

The steps are square in plan and are constructed of grey sandstone blocks. The bottom step incorporates six stones, and measures 2.25m square by 0.19m high. The top step also incorporates six stones, and measures 1.4m by 1.3m and is 0.17m high. The roughly square to octagonal socket stone, which rests on the top step, measures 0.75m square by 0.75m high. It has an unusual form, with differently shaped corners. The north west and south west corners of the socket stone are square at the base rising through chamfered corners to an octagonal plan at the top. The south east corner is octagonal at the base and on the surface. The north east corner is also octagonal at the base and surface, although the corner rises up at a slight angle. Mortared to the top of the socket stone is the shaft. This is 1.53m high, and tapers from 0.37m square at the base to a 0.23m square at the top. The central area of the shaft has slightly chamfered corners. A simple square sandstone block serves as a knop or platform for the cross head which takes the form of a simple crucifix, facing north and south. The west arm of the crucifix has been broken and remortared, as has the base of the head, where it joins the knop. The shaft, the knop and the head are all modern additions. The full height of the cross is approximately 3m. All parts of the cross are constructed from a grey sandstone similar to that used to build the church.

The surface of the pathway, which lies within the protective margin around the cross, is excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath it 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:


DOE, Buildings of Special Hist & Arch Interest,


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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