Market cross at the junction of Bath Street, Union Street and Church Street
- Heritage Category:
- Scheduled Monument
- List Entry Number:
- Date first listed:
- Date of most recent amendment:
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This copy shows the entry on 17-Jul-2019 at 19:39:34.
The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
- Sedgemoor (District Authority)
- National Grid Reference:
- ST 45920 53199
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 having been partly restored the market cross at the junction of Bath Street, Union Street and Church Street, in Cheddar, retains some fine late medieval features. It provides a focal point at a junction of three roads in the town centre and is a highly visible reminder of the town's prosperous past.
The monument includes a medieval market cross located in the town centre at
the junction of Church Street, Bath Street and Union Street. The ashlar market
cross which is Listed Grade II* was constructed in two stages. The initial
stage of construction, dating from the 15th century includes a three stepped
octagonal base surmounted by a socket stone which supports an octagonal shaft.
The sides of the lower base step are 1.9m long and 0.56m high; the sides of
the upper step are 1.1m long and 0.25m high. Each face of the socket stone is
0.45m wide and 0.9m high. The shaft is set into the socket stone and is square
at the base, tapering to an octagon and crowned by a carved abacus with
niches, each containing a sculpted figure. The second stage of construction
took place during the 16th or 17th century and includes a hexagonal open
arched structure which encloses the original cross. The six arches, formed by
low buttressed piers, 1.9m apart and 3.2m high, support a solid embattled
parapet which encloses a hexagonal tiled roof with wooden rafters through
which the shaft passes. The original wooden rafters were replaced in 1834.
Gargoyles with lead drainage pipes are mounted on each angle of the parapet.
The present cross head was erected after 1877.
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:
- Legacy System:
Books and journals
Pooley, C, Old Stone Crosses of Somerset, (1877), 169
This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.
End of official listing