Churchyard cross in Great Malvern Priory churchyard


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1018346

Date first listed: 23-Dec-1996

Date of most recent amendment: 24-Mar-1998


Ordnance survey map of Churchyard cross in Great Malvern Priory churchyard
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Worcestershire

District: Malvern Hills (District Authority)

Parish: Malvern

National Grid Reference: SO 77563 45900


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 cross in Great Malvern Priory churchyard is a good example of a medieval standing cross with an octagonal stepped base. Limited development in the area immediately surrounding the cross suggests that archaeological deposits relating to the monument's construction and use in this location are likely to survive intact. While much of the cross has survived from medieval times, its subsequent restoration illustrates its continued function as a public monument and amenity.


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


The monument includes a standing stone cross, situated in the churchyard of Great Malvern Priory, 37m north of the north door of the priory. The cross, which is Listed Grade II, takes the form of a stepped base which is medieval and modern in date, a medieval socket stone and shaft, and a 19th century cross head. The base is of four steps, and is octagonal in plan with a diameter of 3m. The cross is located on a gentle north westerly slope and the bottom step, which has been replaced in concrete, is flush with ground level on the east side, giving the base a maximum height of 0.4m. The socket stone is square in plan at the base, with broached stops at the angles giving an octagonal top which has chamfered edges. The socket stone measures 0.84m in width and is 0.36m high. The slightly tapering shaft is made of very shelly limestone, and is also square at the base, with a width of 0.4m. It rises about 2.5m and has chamfered angles over broached stops. On its west face is an ogee-headed niche, 0.65m high, with the remains of a limestone plaque at the bottom. The shaft was restored in 1896 and now has a moulded neck and a simple cross head under a gabled canopy. The grave marker to the north east of the cross 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.


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

Legacy System number: 29367

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Deane, A, Great Malvern Priory Church, (1914)
held on SMR, HWCM 12117,
HWCM 12117,

End of official listing