Ancient Monuments

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Churchyard cross, St Mary's churchyard

A Scheduled Monument in West Torrington, Lincolnshire

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Latitude: 53.3231 / 53°19'23"N

Longitude: -0.2974 / 0°17'50"W

OS Eastings: 513500.094681

OS Northings: 382035.599295

OS Grid: TF135820

Mapcode National: GBR VZC0.DH

Mapcode Global: WHHJV.DQLT

Entry Name: Churchyard cross, St Mary's churchyard

Scheduled Date: 5 January 1995

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1013270

English Heritage Legacy ID: 22679

County: Lincolnshire

Civil Parish: West Torrington

Traditional County: Lincolnshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Lincolnshire

Church of England Parish: East Barkwith St Mary

Church of England Diocese: Lincoln


The monument includes the remains of a standing stone cross located in the
churchyard of St Mary's Church, West Torrington, to the south east of the
south porch. The cross is medieval in origin with post-medieval and modern
additions. The monument includes the base, comprising two steps and a socket
stone, the shaft, knop and head.

The steps are approximately square in plan and constructed of large
rectangular blocks. An inscription on the western face of the upper step
records the restoration of the steps in 1892. On this step stands the
socket stone, a plain limestone block of rectangular section with lightly
chamfered upper corners. The top of the stone slopes upwards to the socket,
into which the shaft is set with lead. The socket stone is believed to be
medieval in date. The shaft is rectangular in section at the base with
chamfered corners tapering upwards in irregular octagonal section. The lower
part of the shaft is 1.07m high and is inscribed on the western side with the
date 1700. The upper part of the shaft is integral with the knop and head
which are all late 19th century in date. The head takes the form of a gabled
cross carved with the figures of the Virgin and Child on the east side and a
Crucifixion on the west. The full height of the cross is approximately 3.6m.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

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.

The churchyard cross at St Mary's Church, West Torrington, is a good example
of a standing cross with a quadrangular socket stone and octagonal shaft.
Situated on the south side of the church it is believed to stand in or near
its original position, and archaeological deposits relating to the monument's
construction and use are likely to survive intact. While part of the cross
has survived from medieval times, the subsequent restoration of the steps,
shaft and head has resulted in the continued function of the cross as a public
monument and amenity.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Davies, D S, 'Lincolnshire Notes & Queries' in Ancient Stone Crosses in Lindsey and Holland Divisions of Lincs, , Vol. XIII no8, (1915), 225-226

Source: Historic England

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