Fish Cross: standing cross immediately east of the Town Hall


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1020451

Date first listed: 25-Sep-1934

Date of most recent amendment: 24-Apr-2002


Ordnance survey map of Fish Cross: standing cross immediately east of the Town Hall
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Cornwall (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Penryn

National Grid Reference: SW 78510 34395


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 Fish Cross standing cross, immediately east of the Town Hall survives well. Despite evidence for its removal from a shaft, the cross head remains substantially intact, with some limited damage. The name Fish Cross and its association with the nearby site of the fish market illustrates the use of crosses in market places to mark centres for public gatherings and legitimise transactions.


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


The monument includes a standing cross immediately to the east of the Town Hall in central Penryn. The cross is mounted on a modern base. It measures up to 0.84m south west-north east by 0.71m north west-south east overall, and its total height is 1.31m. The cross is Listed Grade II*. The cross head is of cut granite with a smooth finish and is 0.33m wide, 0.39m high, and 0.21m thick. It has straight sides, a rounded top, and the effect of a neck on the front (south east side), formed by a recess. The face has been cut back above a line 0.08m from the bottom of the head, forming a sunken field with an equal limbed cross in relief in its centre. The carved cross measures approximately 0.3m across. Its limbs are 0.11m long and flare outwards from the centre to their outer ends. The back (north west side) and sides are plain. There is evidence of limited modification of the cross head. It is thought to have been broken off a shaft. The modern base of cut granite is formed of a rectangular slab below a tapering rectangular section plinth supporting the cross head. The base slab measures 0.84m south west-north east by 0.71m south east-north west and 0.18m high. The plinth above has chamfered edges framing a panel with a rusticated finish on each side, and is 0.6m south west-north east by 0.5m at its base, 0.5m by 0.4m at its top, and 0.74m high. As its traditional name indicates, Fish Cross is associated with Penryn's medieval fish market, where it stood until 1895. The market is no longer standing. It was situated at the junction of Broad Street and St Thomas' Street, some 100m south east of the present site of the cross.

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: 32953

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Langdon, A, Stone Crosses in Mid Cornwall, (1999), 31
Wingfield, DEV, Penryn Archaeology and Development - a survey, (1979), 13
AM7, (1934)
SW7834SE 580-1/6/118, Unknown, D of E Schedule of Listed Buildings, (1971)

End of official listing