Ancient Monuments

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Market cross in Market Square

A Scheduled Monument in Stow-on-the-Wold, Gloucestershire

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Latitude: 51.9299 / 51°55'47"N

Longitude: -1.7226 / 1°43'21"W

OS Eastings: 419172.572289

OS Northings: 225749.576531

OS Grid: SP191257

Mapcode National: GBR 4PW.WX5

Mapcode Global: VHBZ5.3R6C

Entry Name: Market cross in Market Square

Scheduled Date: 30 August 1996

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1014827

English Heritage Legacy ID: 28522

County: Gloucestershire

Civil Parish: Stow-on-the-Wold

Built-Up Area: Stow-on-the-Wold

Traditional County: Gloucestershire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Gloucestershire

Church of England Parish: Stow-on-the Wold St Edward

Church of England Diocese: Gloucester


The monument includes a restored cross situated in the market square. The
cross, which is Listed Grade II, has a square three step calvary, a socket
stone, and restored shaft and head. The first step of the calvary is 2.25m
wide and 0.45m high; the second step is 1.5m wide and 0.15m high; and the
third step is 1.1m wide and 0.15m high. Above this is the square socket stone
which has broaches (chamfers of angles to bring stone on the square plan to
the octagonal) at its angles, forming an octagonal top. It is 0.8m wide and
0.45m high. The c.2m high shaft, square at the bottom, tapers to the restored
lantern head and becomes octagonal in section.
The calvary is constructed from stone blocks, while the socket stone appears
more weathered and is hewn from one piece of stone. These appear to be old,
but the shaft and head are more recent.
The cross is thought to have been erected by the Chesters, a wealthy and
important family in Stow who founded a chantry and probably built the church
tower. Set into the socket stone on its north side is a plaque marking the
restoration of the medieval market cross by public subscription in 1995.
It states that the four panels of the cross head, restored by Richard Podd,
depict the crucifiction, Edward the Confessor, the Civil War and the wool
trade. On the south side is an inscription marking its restoration in 1878 and
commemorating the gift of two thousand pounds by Joseph Chamberlayne to
provide a supply of pure water for the parish. The cross was headless in the
early 19th century and later became used as a lamp standard. The oldest parts
of the cross are considered to be 14th century.
The modern brick edging and paving stones around the base of the calvary,
where they fall within the cross's protective margin, 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.

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 shaft and head having been restored, the standing cross in the
market square survives well, with many of its original elements intact in what
is likely to be its original location. Its position in the market square,
where it forms a focal point, makes it an imposing monument, as it has done
since the medieval period.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Pooley, C, Notes on the Old Crosses of Gloucestershire, (1868), 70
Pooley, C, Notes on the Old Crosses of Gloucestershire, (1868), 69

Source: Historic England

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