Churchyard cross in St Mary's churchyard


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1016120

Date first listed: 11-Jul-1997


Ordnance survey map of Churchyard cross in St Mary's churchyard
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: County of Herefordshire (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Kentchurch

National Grid Reference: SO 41932 25631


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

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's churchyard is a good example of a medieval standing cross with a square stepped base and a square to octagonal socket stone. Situated immediately to the south west of the south porch, it is believed to stand in or near its original position. While parts of the cross have survived from medieval times, its subsequent restoration has resulted in its continued function as a public monument and amenity.


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


The monument includes a standing stone cross, located approximately 4m to the south west of the south porch of St Mary's Church. The cross, which is Listed Grade II, is of stepped form, and is medieval and later in date. The monument includes the base of one step and a socket stone, and the shaft and head which are formed from a single block of stone.

The single step is rectangular in shape, and measures 1.83m by 1.73m and 0.44m high. It is constructed of layers of thin stone slabs which are bonded together with pink mortar. The socket stone is sub-rectangular in plan and tapers upwards to a height of 0.4m. A shallow stone butting the north face of the socket stone is believed to be a later addition. The shaft and head are cut from a single block of stone; together they measure 2.15m high. The shaft is 0.3m square at the base and tapers upwards with inverted corners. The elaborate head has a diameter of 0.77m and takes the form of a closed ring crucifix. It is highly decorated on both the north and south faces with bosses and foliate decoration. The date of 1887 has been inscribed into the socket stone, and is thought to relate to the addition of the shaft and head. The full height of the cross is 2.99m.

The surface of the pathway 0.4m to the north and the gravestone 0.7m to the south, are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath these features 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: 29864

Legacy System: RSM


RCHM, An Inventory of the Historical Monuments of Herefordshire, (1931)

End of official listing