Great Brington village cross


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1018840

Date first listed: 03-May-1946

Date of most recent amendment: 16-Nov-1998


Ordnance survey map of Great Brington village cross
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Northamptonshire

District: Daventry (District Authority)

Parish: Brington

National Grid Reference: SP 66678 65178


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 remains of the village cross at Great Brington are a well preserved example of a standing cross with an octagonal stepped base and moulded capital located in or near its original position. Limited activity in the area surrounding the cross indicates that archaeological deposits relating to the monument's construction and use in this location are likely to survive as buried features. Most of the cross has survived from medieval times and it continues to function as a public monument and amenity and is, through its associations with the Spencer family and the ancestors of George Washington, both a national and international focus.


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


The monument includes the remains of a standing stone cross located 60m south west of the church of St Mary the Virgin in the village of Great Brington. The cross, whose architectural style suggests a construction date early in the 14th century, stands to an overall height of about 3.75m. It includes a cross base of three steps, octagonal in plan and measuring approximately 3m across. The base, which is of mortared block construction, supports a square socket stone chamfered at the corners and upper edges. Morticed into the socket stone is a substantial octagonal shaft with matching chamfering at the base of four of its concave faces. It terminates in a moulded and beaded capital and has been iron cramped on the northern side. The capital is surmounted by a small, broken octagonal column, and a sketch of about 1832 shows that this column formerly supported a lantern head which is thought to have been destroyed before 1901.

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: 29735

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Drydens, , Brington, (1901), 3
Shaeffer, G, The Parish Church of St Mary the Virgin, Great Brington, (1989)

End of official listing