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Standing cross base near the junction of Church Lane and Woodhouse Lane, 600m NNW of New Hall Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Gawsworth, Cheshire East

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Coordinates

Latitude: 53.2308 / 53°13'50"N

Longitude: -2.1686 / 2°10'6"W

OS Eastings: 388844.367279

OS Northings: 370430.274664

OS Grid: SJ888704

Mapcode National: GBR 11M.JJV

Mapcode Global: WHBBV.N2K1

Entry Name: Standing cross base near the junction of Church Lane and Woodhouse Lane, 600m NNW of New Hall Farm

Scheduled Date: 23 November 1995

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1013783

English Heritage Legacy ID: 25707

County: Cheshire East

Civil Parish: Gawsworth

Built-Up Area: Gawsworth

Traditional County: Cheshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cheshire

Church of England Parish: Gawsworth St James

Church of England Diocese: Chester

Details

The monument includes a cross base for a medieval preaching cross at the
junction of two roads in the centre of the original village of Gawsworth.
The cross consists of a plinth of dressed gritstone blocks rising to two steps
surmounted by a gritstone block cut into two steps with a fragment of the
shaft pinned and cemented to the top.
The steps are square and measure 2m wide on the west side and stand 0.17m
above the turf. The second step measures 1.4m and is 0.2m high. The base
block is also square and measures 0.9m at the bottom with a step 0.3m high
rising to a step 0.64m wide and 0.24m high.
The shaft fragment is squared in section and 0.35m wide on the west side. It
stands 0.83m high.
It stands in its original position beside the road junction on what is now a
fenced triangular lawn known locally as the Pleasance. It is set back from the
road edge by 1.4m and 0.5m above the present level.
The fence and road surface to the west of the monument are excluded from the
scheduling but the ground beneath them is included.

MAP EXTRACT
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.

This cross is an unusual structure in that the top two steps are cut from the
solid stone. The two steps at the base are of well dressed stone and are worn
severely on the east side. Its function was as a preaching cross before the
building of the parish church 750m to the SSE and the shift of the village
centre to the area around the Hall. The cross survives well in spite of the
loss of the head and the wear of the existing stones. It serves to remind us
of the importance of the church in regulating the affairs of a small village
and marks the older focus of the settlement.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
Richards, R, The Manor of Gawsworth147

Source: Historic England

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