Ancient Monuments

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Standing cross in St Luke's churchyard, Farnworth, beside the south porch

A Scheduled Monument in Farnworth, Halton

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Latitude: 53.3843 / 53°23'3"N

Longitude: -2.7275 / 2°43'38"W

OS Eastings: 351707.492002

OS Northings: 387737.950667

OS Grid: SJ517877

Mapcode National: GBR 9YD9.9K

Mapcode Global: WH87K.26GD

Entry Name: Standing cross in St Luke's churchyard, Farnworth, beside the south porch

Scheduled Date: 15 December 1995

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1013781

English Heritage Legacy ID: 25704

County: Halton

Electoral Ward/Division: Farnworth

Built-Up Area: Widnes

Traditional County: Lancashire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cheshire

Church of England Parish: Farnworth St Luke

Church of England Diocese: Liverpool


The monument includes a cross in the churchyard of the parish Church of St
Luke at Farnworth in Widnes. The cross has a medieval base and plinth on which
a sandstone cross with a broken lantern was constructed in the restorations of
the church in the last decade of the 19th century.
The plinth measures 1.3m by 1.34m and stands only 0.09m above the turf. It is
constructed of sandstone blocks and was mortared together. The base is a
single block of sandstone 0.75m by 0.76m and stands 0.18m high above the
plinth. This has a socket hole measuring 0.38m by 0.38m which now houses the
restored cross shaft and broken lantern. The shaft and lantern are 2.87m high.
The shaft is square and is cut into an octagonal section above the base. The
Victorian work is of good quality.
The metal posts for the church signboard and a tombstone of 1812 1m to the
south east are excluded from the scheduling although the ground beneath is

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

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.

Despite the loss of its original shaft, the plinth and base of this cross
survive well. The cross stands in its original position on the south side of
the church and served to remind the medieval traveller or local inhabitant of
the sanctity of that enclosure.

Source: Historic England

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