Hardley Cross, immediately south west of the confluence of the rivers Yare and Chet


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1018343

Date first listed: 26-Jun-1924

Date of most recent amendment: 10-Jun-1998


Ordnance survey map of Hardley Cross, immediately south west of the confluence of the rivers Yare and Chet
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Norfolk

District: Norwich (District Authority)

County: Norfolk

District: South Norfolk (District Authority)

Parish: Langley with Hardley

National Park: THE BROADS

National Grid Reference: TG 40080 01177


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.

Hardley Cross is a good example of an early post-medieval standing cross with a decorative square socket stone and a tapering square shaft. Situated immediately to the south west of the junction between the Rivers Yare and Chet, probably marking the original limit of Breydon water and marking the boundary of the jurisdictions of the City of Norwich it is believed to stand in or near to its original position. Whilst parts of the cross have survived from early post-medieval times subsequent restorations have resulted in its continued function as a public monument and amenity. The cross is later in date than most standing crosses and this gives it additional interest.


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


The monument includes a standing stone cross located about 4m north of the north bank of the River Yare, immediately to the south west of the confluence of the rivers Yare and Chet and about 1.2km to the east of the village of Hardley Street. It marks the limit of the jurisdiction of the City of Norwich. The cross, which is Listed Grade II, dates to the 16th century with some later additions. It includes the two stepped base, the socket stone, the shaft, the capital and the head. The cross is aligned north east-south west by north west-south east. The steps are square in plan and are constructed of large limestone blocks, set into a cutting which extends 0.7m in each direction beyond the edge of the base step and is about 0.15m deep. The base step measures 2.26m square by 0.48m high and the top step measures 1.56m square by 0.16m high. The socket stone set on the top step is constructed of two stones. The base stone measures 0.92m square by 0.33m high and supports the upper stone which is also 0.92m square at the base and 0.25m high tapering in the upper part through horizontal moulding to a square section on the surface measuring 0.88m on each side. The shaft, which is mortared to the top of the socket stone, measures 0.4m square at the base and tapers upwards to a height of about 3m. It is decorated with vertical corner rolls. The elaborate capital set at the top of the shaft is square in plan expanded upwards to an abacus, 0.4m square, and is decorated on each face with a coat of arms. The head above this comprises a simple cross about 0.4m high and 0.2m wide, facing north west and south east on a stepped base. The steps, capital and head are thought to be post-medieval in date. The full height of the cross in its present form is approximately 5.07m. The initials `W.I.P.' are inscribed into the north west face of the socket stone. A slate plaque, at one time attached to, and now leaning against, the north east face of the socket stone was erected in 1971 and states that the cross marks the ancient boundary of the jurisdictions of the City of Norwich and the Borough of Great Yarmouth on the River Yare. It also states that the cross probably marks the original limit of Breydon Water and it was confirmed for Norwich by a Charter of Philip and Mary in July 1556. Inscriptions cut into the north west and north east faces of the shaft relate to restoration work carried out in 1676, 1820 and 1834 and a bronze plaque on the north east face of the shaft states the cross was repaired and fenced in 1899. The Chamberlain's Roll of 1543 records that a wooden cross was erected on the site. It is thought that the wooden cross was replaced in 1676 with the present cross. The iron railings which extend 0.13m in each direction beyond the edge of the base step, and which have diagonal spurs built into the top step, 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: 31142

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Cozens-Hardy, , 'Norfolk Archaeology' in Norfolk Crosses, , Vol. 25, (1935), 311-312

End of official listing