Standing medieval cross 10m south of the nave of St Mary's Church


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1016852

Date first listed: 24-Sep-1999


Ordnance survey map of Standing medieval cross 10m south of the nave of St Mary's Church
© 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.
Use of this data is subject to Terms and Conditions.

The above map is for quick reference purposes only and may not be to scale. For a copy of the full scale map, please see the attached PDF - 1016852 .pdf

The PDF will be generated from our live systems and may take a few minutes to download depending on how busy our servers are. We apologise for this delay.

This copy shows the entry on 20-Nov-2018 at 16:03:55.


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

District: Cheshire East (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Sandbach

National Grid Reference: SJ 75945 60756


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 standing cross in the churchyard of St Mary's Church is an important survival of a medieval cross in its original location on the southern side of the church. The base of the cross is of a gritstone comparable to the stone used in carving the late Anglo-Saxon cross shafts which lie beside the west porch of the church and, therefore, it may be of a much earlier date than the shaft presently set into the socket. This cross provides insights into the liturgical and social functions of crosses during the medieval period. Its conversion into a sundial may indicate a strong reaction locally to the iconoclasts of the Reformation in Sandbach.


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


The monument includes the base and part of the shaft of a medieval standing cross in the churchyard of St Mary's Church. The cross is probably in its original location, 10m south of the south wall of the nave. The base is square, cut from a massive piece of gritstone, and formed into two steps. The base measures 0.95m wide and 0.6m high with the step 0.7m wide. The socle measures 0.45m by 0.4m. The shaft is almost square, rising to octagonal at a point 0.1m from the cross base. The transition is effected by four simple darts cut across the corners. The shaft is incomplete, measuring 1.32m high, cut level at the top to accommodate a sundial which has since lost its gnomon. The shaft is made from a different, better quality stone, from the base. This suggests that the base may have been made at an earlier date. The gravestones laid down as a path to the north of the monument and graves, including a table tomb, on the western side of the cross where they fall within the cross's protective margin are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath them 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: 30395

Legacy System: RSM

End of official listing