Ancient Monuments

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Market cross in the marketplace to the west of St Wilfrid's Church, Standish

A Scheduled Monument in Standish with Langtree, Wigan

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Latitude: 53.5869 / 53°35'12"N

Longitude: -2.6621 / 2°39'43"W

OS Eastings: 356263.987

OS Northings: 410240.615

OS Grid: SD562102

Mapcode National: GBR 9VVY.GX

Mapcode Global: WH97R.23LJ

Entry Name: Market cross in the marketplace to the west of St Wilfrid's Church, Standish

Scheduled Date: 22 April 1996

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1014117

English Heritage Legacy ID: 25717

County: Wigan

Electoral Ward/Division: Standish with Langtree

Built-Up Area: Standish

Traditional County: Lancashire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Greater Manchester

Church of England Parish: Standish St Wilfrid

Church of England Diocese: Blackburn


The monument includes a medieval cross base on a flight of three steps in the
market place to the west of St Wilfrid's Church, Standish. It stands in an
area of restored cobbles and setts which also includes a set of stocks to the
north of the cross and small stone bollards on the west and east sides. The
cross is Listed Grade II.
The steps form a square platform 2.35m wide at the base. The first step is
almost buried in the stone setts around it. It stands 0.23m high on the north
side but is level with the ground surface on the south side. The second step
is 2m wide and 0.2m high. The third step is 1.45m wide and 0.22m high. This is
surmounted by the cross base formed out of a single block of local gritstone
which is 0.74m X 0.7m at the bottom and slightly rounded off at the corners on
the top where it tapers to the shape of the cross shaft. At one time the shaft
was integral to the base being carved out of the same block of stone. The base
now stands 0.46m high. This whole construction including the steps is late
medieval in date.
There is now a more modern cross shaft of sandstone cemented onto the base.
The cross stands 1m from the road surface on the west side with protective
bollards 0.5m from the edge of the bottom step. The stocks are 0.4m to the
The road surface, the stocks and the stone bollards are excluded from the
scheduling although the ground beneath these features is included.

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.

The market cross at Standish survives in good condition in spite of the
replacement of the shaft and head. It stands in its original location in a
place with a high public profile and is well preserved in its immediate
environment as an historic feature of the town.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Taylor, H, The Ancient Crosses and Holy Wells of Lancashire, (1906), 44-45

Source: Historic England

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