Ancient Monuments

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Churchyard cross in St Peter's churchyard

A Scheduled Monument in Rendcomb, Gloucestershire

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Latitude: 51.7866 / 51°47'11"N

Longitude: -1.9746 / 1°58'28"W

OS Eastings: 401845.4964

OS Northings: 209771.4414

OS Grid: SP018097

Mapcode National: GBR 2NM.ZJF

Mapcode Global: VHB2B.QCG7

Entry Name: Churchyard cross in St Peter's churchyard

Scheduled Date: 3 January 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1015424

English Heritage Legacy ID: 28529

County: Gloucestershire

Civil Parish: Rendcomb

Traditional County: Gloucestershire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Gloucestershire

Church of England Parish: Rendcomb St Peter

Church of England Diocese: Gloucester


The monument includes a restored cross situated in the churchyard at Rendcomb
13m south of the church.
The cross, which is Listed Grade II, has a square three step calvary, a socket
stone, and a restored shaft surmounted by a restored cross head of Celtic
design. The calvary is built into the south-facing slope of the churchyard.
The first step of the calvary is 2.95m at its base widening to 3.05m and is
0.3m high; the second step is 2.3m long and 0.35m high; and the third step is
1.6m long and 0.3m high. Above this the square socket stone sits on a small
plinth 0.9m long and 0.2m high. The socket stone has broaches at its angles,
forming an octagonal top. It is 0.75m wide and 0.5m high. The 1m high shaft,
square at the bottom, tapers to the restored Celtic cross head. The calvary is
constructed from stone blocks. The socket stone is hewn from one piece of
stone. These have the appearance of great age, but the shaft and head are 19th
century. The other parts of the cross are considered to be medieval.

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
churchyard at Rendcomb survives well with many of its original elements intact
in what is likely to be its original location. The medieval cross relates to
the church which is dated to the early 16th century.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Saint Peter's Church Rendcomb a Short Guide
Pevsner, N, The Buildings of England: Gloucestershire: The Cotswolds, (1970), 378

Source: Historic England

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