Standing cross St Wilfrid's churchyard


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1016854

Date first listed: 24-Sep-1999


Ordnance survey map of Standing cross St Wilfrid's churchyard
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This copy shows the entry on 13-Dec-2018 at 08:47:55.


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

District: Cheshire East (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Mobberley

National Grid Reference: SJ 79040 80169


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 base and part of a standing cross in St Wilfrid's churchyard are considered to remain in their original location on the southern side of the church. The conversion into a sundial is common in this part of Cheshire and represents the efforts of local people to counter the effects of iconoclasm following the Reformation, saving the major part of a finely sculpted cross in their churchyard from destruction. The cross therefore provides important evidence for the survival of Catholic recusants in this region, as well as being a notable monument of its type.


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


The monument includes a sandstone cross base and part of a cross shaft on the southern side of St Wilfrid's Church. The top of the shaft fragment has been levelled to take the plate for a sundial. The base is a single square block of sandstone measuring 0.85m wide and standing 0.45m high. It has spurs cut at each top corner to create the springing for an octagonal shaft. The socket is 0.43m wide and contains the central portion of an octagonal shaft 0.48m high. On the top is a sundial with the gnomon missing. The cross, which is Listed Grade II, is probably in its original location on the south side of the chancel, although it has been disturbed by the roots of a large yew tree which grows on the west side of the cross, 3m from the base. The gravestones which abut the cross base, where they fall within the cross's protective margin, are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath the cross base 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: 30397

Legacy System: RSM

End of official listing