Ancient Monuments

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Standing cross on Church Street, Mansfield Woodhouse

A Scheduled Monument in Woodhouse, Nottinghamshire

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Latitude: 53.1648 / 53°9'53"N

Longitude: -1.1939 / 1°11'37"W

OS Eastings: 453991.421

OS Northings: 363373.647001

OS Grid: SK539633

Mapcode National: GBR 8DZ.QYP

Mapcode Global: WHDFS.MQP6

Entry Name: Standing cross on Church Street, Mansfield Woodhouse

Scheduled Date: 6 August 1954

Last Amended: 31 July 1995

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1012927

English Heritage Legacy ID: 23372

County: Nottinghamshire

Electoral Ward/Division: Woodhouse

Built-Up Area: Mansfield Woodhouse

Traditional County: Nottinghamshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Nottinghamshire

Church of England Parish: Mansfield Woodhouse

Church of England Diocese: Southwell and Nottingham


The monument is a medieval standing cross whose remains include a base or
calvary of four steps surmounted by a socle or socket stone. Originally, there
would also have been a shaft and cross head but these components are now
The bottom step of the calvary is c.2m square and is partially hidden by the
modern cobbled surface surrounding it. Where it is exposed at the north west
corner, it shows the step to be constructed of three layers of pavings. The
remaining steps consist of single layers of more massive blocks. The total
height of the calvary is c.1m.
The socket stone is in two sections comprising a moulded plinth measuring
c.70cm square and, mortared onto that, an octagonal block with pyramid stops
on alternate faces. The total height of the socle is c.75cm. The surface of
the octagonal section rises towards the centre in eight segments before
levelling off. This level surface is c.15cm square and includes a circular
hole at the centre which would have housed the peg that formerly held the
cross shaft in place. The small size of the surface onto which the shaft
fitted indicates that the shaft itself was very slender. This suggests that it
may have been a wooden cross rather than a stone one and may account for why
the shaft and cross head are missing. Alternatively, a stone shaft and cross
head may have been vandalised by 16th or 17th century iconoclasts.
The modern surface surrounding the monument is excluded from the scheduling
though the ground underneath is included. The cross is Listed Grade II.

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.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

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.

Though missing its shaft, the cross on Church Street is a reasonably well-
preserved and visually impressive example which appears to be in its original
location. Its proximity to the church suggests that it played an important
role in religious festivals during the Middle Ages.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Stapleton, A, Catalogue of Nottinghamshire Crosses, (1912), 17-18
'Transactions of the Thoroton Society' in Transactions of the Thoroton Society, , Vol. 59, (1955), 98-99
Shackleton Hill, Angela, (1994)

Source: Historic England

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