Churchyard cross in St Nicholas'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 86087 36643

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 Nicholas's churchyard is a good example of a medieval standing cross with a square stepped base, a socket stone, and the remains of the original shaft. Situated near to the south porch of the church it is believed to stand in or near its original position. Whilst only the base, the socket stone and the lower part of the shaft have survived from medieval times the subsequent restoration of the cross, with the replacement of the upper part of the shaft and the addition of the knop and 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 Nicholas's Church, approximately 5m to the south east of the south 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 three 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 measures 2.35m square by 0.25m high, the middle step measures 1.7m square by 0.3m high and the top step measures 1.15m square by 0.3m high. The socket stone rests on the top step. It measures 0.56m square by 0.62m high and is square at the base, rising through slightly chamfered corners to an octagon which is then reduced by a bevel to a smaller octagon, 0.44m in diameter. Two bronze plaques on the west faces of the socket stone and the top step state that the cross was restored in 1904 in commemoration of William Dowdeswell of Pullcourt, who also restored the church in 1854. The remaining 1.13m of the original shaft is mortised into the socket stone with lead; it measures 0.39m square at the base. The shaft was extended during the restoration of the cross when a further section, 0.91m in length, was added. The complete shaft tapers upwards through chamfered corners, terminating in a moulded octagonal knop. The knop serves as a platform for the head, a simple Latin cross portraying the crucified Christ beneath a gabled roof.

The upper part of the shaft, the knop and the head are all modern additions and are constructed from a cream coloured sandstone. The medieval parts of the cross are also cut from sandstone, which is grey in colour and highly weathered. The full height of the cross is approximately 4.35m.

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
The Victoria History of the County of Worcestershire495


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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