Market cross 44m north of the Town Hall

Overview

Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1016321

Date first listed: 25-Jan-1927

Date of most recent amendment: 10-Jun-1998

Map

Ordnance survey map of Market cross 44m north of the Town Hall
© Crown Copyright and database right 2018. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2018. All rights reserved. Licence number 102006.006.
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Location

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

County: Northamptonshire

District: East Northamptonshire (District Authority)

Parish: Higham Ferrers

National Grid Reference: SP 96045 68496

Summary

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 remains of the market cross 44m north of the Town Hall represent a good example of a medieval market cross located in or near its original position. Limited activity in the area immediately surrounding the cross indicates that archaeological deposits relating to the monument's construction and use in this location are likely to survive intact as buried features. While most of the cross has survived from medieval times, its subsequent restoration illustrates its continued function as a public monument and amenity.

History

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

Details

The monument includes the remains of the market cross located in the Market Square, approximately 44m north of the Town Hall at Higham Ferrers. The cross, which is Listed Grade I, is believed to be late 13th or 14th century in date with later additions. The base of the cross takes the form of a circular flight of steps with a maximum diameter of approximately 4m and standing to about 3.5m in height. However, only the lowest step is now visible, those above having been encased in a masonry cone when the cross was repaired, probably early in the 20th century. A tripartite arrangement of iron stays is embedded in the cone. The stays, which once carried three lamps, have an ornamented brace and terminate in a collar supporting the shaft. For the greater part of its height of 4m the shaft is octagonal in plan, but is circular at the top. The ball flower capital is surmounted by a modern square abacus or platform. The modern surfacing within the monument's protective margin 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.

Legacy

The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number: 29715

Legacy System: RSM

Sources

Books and journals
Page, W, The Victoria History of the County of Northamptonshire, (1930), 263

End of official listing