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Latitude: 53.3242 / 53°19'27"N
Longitude: -1.915 / 1°54'53"W
OS Eastings: 405758.151369
OS Northings: 380808.151369
OS Grid: SK057808
Mapcode National: GBR HZ20.63
Mapcode Global: WHBBD.KP9Z
Entry Name: Standing cross in the churchyard of St Thomas Becket Church
Scheduled Date: 21 July 1994
Source: Historic England
Source ID: 1008827
English Heritage Legacy ID: 23356
Civil Parish: Chapel-en-le-Frith
Built-Up Area: Chapel-en-le-Frith
Traditional County: Derbyshire
Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Derbyshire
Church of England Parish: Chapel-en-le-Frith St Thomas a Becket
Church of England Diocese: Derby
The monument is the remains of a medieval standing cross located in the
churchyard west of St Thomas Becket Church. It comprises a medieval red
sandstone cross shaft set in a circular red sandstone socle or socket stone.
Originally a cross head would have surmounted the cross shaft but this is now
missing and has been replaced by an 18th or 19th century sundial. The
undecorated shaft is of square section and has a narrow square pedestal. In
form it is a fluted column which indicates a probable 11th century date. It is
not clear whether the socle is an original feature or a later replacement. It
is similar to the modern socle of the nearby high cross but also has the
appearance of part of a calvary or stepped cross base. No accurate
measurements are available as the cross is enclosed by iron railings but the
shaft is c.1.2m high by c.30cm square and the socle is c.1m in diameter. The
railings and all graves falling within the area of the scheduling are excluded
from the scheduling although the ground beneath them is included.
The cross is also Listed Grade II.
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.
Source: Historic England
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.
Although the head is missing from the standing cross in St Thomas Becket
churchyard, the monument is reasonably well-preserved and is a good example of
an early post-Conquest cross which is similar in form to the 11th century
cross in Taddington, Derbyshire.
Source: Historic England
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