Market cross, 35m and 50m south of St Thomas' Church


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1016876

Date first listed: 24-Sep-1999


Ordnance survey map of Market cross, 35m and 50m south of St Thomas' Church
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: County Durham (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Stanhope

National Grid Reference: NY 99670 39196, NY 99676 39167


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.

Despite the replacement of the cross shaft and head, Stanhope market cross is the only market cross which still survives in its original position within County Durham. The shaft and head of the 1669 cross, which now survive in the adjacent churchyard, are of unusual form and reflect Puritan influence on iconography in the second half of the 17th century. Information on the original setting and use of the market cross will be preserved around its base.


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


The monument includes Stanhope market cross, which is situated to the south of St Thomas' Church. The monument includes a base, socket stone, shaft and cross. It also includes the 17th century cross shaft, which is situated 5m north of the entrance to the St Thomas' churchyard. This 17th century shaft was originally part of the market cross and lies within a separate area of protection. The four stepped base is 3m square and 0.8m high. The top step has four iron staples leaded into it. The socket stone is 0.7m square, 0.23m high and is chamfered on its upper edge. The shaft is 2m high, 0.35m square at its base and tapers with height. The cross head is of plate form with billets at the arm intersections. It is 1m wide and 1m high and has wedge type arm terminals. On the north, east and west sides the monument is surrounded by a 0.5m wide perimeter of cobbles. The 17th century shaft is 1.8m high. It has a squared base 0.26m in width and 0.1m high. Above this the shaft is a column of 0.26m diameter. The top of the shaft is a square of 0.43m in width and 0.1m in height surmounted by a pyramid of 0.07m height. At 1.3m high the column shaft has been partially squared by indentations which were for the attachment of a wooden covering for the market. The upper parts of the monument (socket stone, shaft and cross) date to the restoration of the monument in 1871, but the base is earlier and is in its original position. The base of the monument and the shaft in the churchyard form parts of the cross erected to commemorate the re-founding of Stanhope market in 1669 by Bishop John Cosin. The market originated in 1418, when Bishop Langley granted a market to be held every week on Friday and two annual fairs (May 6th and August 29th). The market cross and the 17th century cross shaft are Listed Grade II. The surface of the metalled road and paving slabs where they impinge on the area of the monument 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.


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

Legacy System number: 32061

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Fordyce, W, The History and Antiquities of the County Palatine of Durham, (1857)

End of official listing