Churchyard cross in St Peter's churchyard


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1016122

Date first listed: 24-Oct-1997


Ordnance survey map of Churchyard cross in St Peter'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: Withington

National Grid Reference: SO 56581 43465


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 at St Peter's is a good example of a medieval standing cross with an octagonal stepped base and octagonal socket stone. Situated near the south porch of the church it is believed to stand in or near its original position. While only the steps and socket stone have survived from medieval times the subsequent restoration of the shaft and the head illustrates the continued function of the cross 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 within the churchyard of St Peter's Church, approximately 10m to the south of the south porch. The cross is of stepped form and is principally medieval in date with some later additions. The monument includes the base of three steps and a socket stone, the shaft, the knop and the head. The steps are octagonal in plan and are constructed of sandstone blocks, similar to those utilised in the church. The bottom step is 2.4m in diameter, and all three steps are approximately 0.17m high. The octagonal socket stone rests on the uppermost step. It has a diameter of 0.62m and a height of 0.48m. A simple niche with a pointed head has been cut into the western face of the socket stone. This is thought to have been carved to hold the Pyx or Holy Water when Mass was celebrated at the cross, or to hold a statue or icon. An inscription carved into the socket stone indicates that the cross was restored in 1897 by the parishioners to commemorate the sixtieth anniversary of the coronation of Queen Victoria, 1837-1897. Set into the top of the socket stone is the shaft, square in section at the base tapering upwards through chamfered corners to an octagonal section. It is 1.76m high. A simple knop joins the shaft to the head which takes the form of an open crucifix with foliate terminals. The shaft, knop and head are all modern additions. The full height of the cross is approximately 2.75m. The cross is Listed Grade II.

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: 29843

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Hopton, M, The Crosses of Herefordshire, (1901)
Marples, B, 'Transactions of the Woolhope Naturalists Field Club' in The Niche in Medieval Churchyard Crosses, , Vol. 40, (1972), 321-332
2147/11/A Listed Buildings, RCHM, MHLG, (1960)

End of official listing