Reasons for Designation
A medieval chapel is a building, usually rectangular, containing a range of
furnishings and fittings appropriate for Christian worship in the pre-
Reformation period. Chapels were designed for congregational worship and were
generally divided into two main parts: the nave, which provided accommodation
for the laity, and the chancel, which was the main domain of the priest and
contained the principal altar. Around 4000 parochial chapels were built
between the 12th and 17th centuries as subsidiary places of worship built for
the convenience of parishioners who lived at a distance from the main parish
church. Other chapels were built as private places of worship by manorial
lords and lie near or within manor houses, castles or other high-status
residences. Chantry chapels were built and maintained by endowment and were
established for the singing of masses for the soul of the founder. Some
chapels possessed burial grounds. Unlike parish churches, the majority of
which remain in ecclesiastical use, chapels were often abandoned as their
communities and supporting finances declined or disappeared. Many chantry
chapels disappeared after the dissolution of their supporting communities in
Chapels, like parish churches, have always been major features of the
landscape. A significant number of surviving examples are identified as being
nationally important. The sites of abandoned chapels, where positively
identified, are particularly worthy of statutory protection as they were often
left largely undisturbed and thus retain important information about the
nature and date of their use up to their abandonment.
A standing cross is a free standing upright structure, usually of stone,
mostly erected during the medieval period (mid-10th century 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 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 2000 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 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.
Old Croxdale Chapel and the socket stone of the churchyard cross are well
preserved. Important information on the setting and use of the cross and on
the form, structure and history of the chapel will be preserved beneath the
present ground surface and in the upstanding fabric.
The monument includes a medieval chapel and the socket stone of a churchyard
cross, situated 50m north east of Croxdale Hall.
Croxdale chapel, now known as Old Croxdale chapel, was dedicated to St
Bartholomew. It was formerly a dependent chapel of St Oswald's Church,
Durham. The earliest fabric of the chapel has been dated to the late 11th
century or early 12th century. The church was sold to the Salvin family in
1845-6 in exchange for land to build a new church at Sunderland Bridge. Since
this time the churchyard has been used as a family burial ground.
The medieval chapel, which is Listed Grade I, comprises a nave and chancel.
The nave measures 11.6m long by 7m wide externally. The walls are constructed
of roughly coursed rubble sandstone blocks and are 4m high. The south wall has
a 19th century window with a four-centred arch, a blocked window and a 12th
century doorway with semi-circular tympanum above. The door is original and
has two iron `C'-shaped hinges and a central iron cross. The tympanum, which
bears a carving of the Tree of Life, rest on two 0.8m long stones (known as
imposts) in the walls either side of the doorway. The west wall has a single
light lancet window with a cusped head, two blocked lancet windows and a
bellcote above the roof apex which has two pointed openings; one still retains
a bell. The north front has a blocked doorway. The roof of the nave is
pitched and is pantiled with a verge of stone slabs. The gables of the roof
are stone coped. The chancel, which measures 7.7m long by 5m wide, has a 19th
century four-centred arch window on the south side, a 14th century Decorated
Style three light window in the east wall and a brick stack abutting the north
side. The chancel is butt jointed to the nave, indicating it was built later
than the nave. A low parapet with chamfered coping has added 0.5m to the
height of the chancel walls and hides a low pitched roof which drains via four
drainage spouts, two in the north and two in the south chancel wall.
The interior of the nave walls are plastered and limewashed, with a wooden
dado. The floor is of limestone slabs which to the west of the south door
extend the full width of the nave and to the east of the doorway form a
central aisle with the remainder boarded. In the south wall the window bay of
a blocked window is visible. The east wall has a string course at 1.45m high,
with a lower chamfer and there is a late 12th century chancel arch supported
on keeled responds with moulded bases and capitals. The walls of the chancel
are also plastered and limewashed and the floor is also of limestone slabs.
Three plaques (two from the 19th century and one from the 20th century) are
attached to the north wall. The east wall has a stone altar supported on
columns of Frosterley marble and to the north a stone ledge built into the
wall with chamfered lower edges. The south wall has an aumbry, a cupboard
recessed into the wall for the storage of the altar plate and other sacred
The churchyard cross is situated 5m to the south of the chancel of the
medieval chapel. It includes a sandstone socket stone, which is Listed Grade
II, and measures 0.7m square and 0.36m high. The top edge is chamfered. A
modern shaft and cross, dating from 1978, has been inserted into the socket
and obscures the socket's dimensions.
The 20th century cross and shaft are excluded from the scheduling, although
the socket stone and the ground beneath are included.
The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.