Croxdale medieval chapel and churchyard cross base


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1019820

Date first listed: 23-Jul-1958

Date of most recent amendment: 05-Jan-2001


Ordnance survey map of Croxdale medieval chapel and churchyard cross base
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: County Durham (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Croxdale and Hett

National Grid Reference: NZ 27402 37914


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

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 the 1540s. 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.


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


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 items. 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.

MAP EXTRACT 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.


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

Legacy System number: 32063

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Friar, S, A Companion to the English Parish Church, (1996), 119

End of official listing