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Village cross

A Scheduled Monument in Wedmore, Somerset

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Coordinates

Latitude: 51.227 / 51°13'37"N

Longitude: -2.8083 / 2°48'29"W

OS Eastings: 343656.069957

OS Northings: 147849.300237

OS Grid: ST436478

Mapcode National: GBR MF.2Y3N

Mapcode Global: VH7D7.8FR6

Entry Name: Village cross

Scheduled Date: 30 November 1925

Last Amended: 2 January 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1015450

English Heritage Legacy ID: 28815

County: Somerset

Civil Parish: Wedmore

Built-Up Area: Wedmore

Traditional County: Somerset

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Somerset

Details

The monument includes a cross set back from the pavement on the east side of a
street called `The Borough' in the village of Wedmore. The cross is in a small
enclosure which is topped by railings on its north, south and east sides, with
an iron railing gate on the west side providing access to the pavement.
The cross, which is Listed Grade II*, has five modern calvary steps leading up
to a plinth, socket stone, and shaft with a decorated terminal and a square
lantern head. Each step of the calvary is 0.34m high, making a total height
for all the steps of 1.7m. All steps extend to the full width of the enclosed
area, a distance of 2.95m. On the platform created by the top step lies the
plinth. The platform is 2.95m wide north-south, and 3.2m long east-west. The
plinth is set 0.7m from the front, or west edge of the platform, and is 0.4m
from the south edge of the platform. The plinth is 1.13m long north-south,
1.2m long east-west and is 0.2m high. On this sits the square socket stone
which is 0.85m long and 0.55m high. It has a groove around its upper surface
with a drain at one corner. In its centre is a square, lead lined, socket
measuring 0.35m across. The c.2.2m high shaft, square at the bottom, tapers to
the square cross head and becomes octagonal in section. The shaft ends in a
decorated, crown-like, terminal surmounted by a lantern head. The lantern head
has a knight on its south side, a priest on its north side, Holy Rood on its
east side and The Virgin and Child on its west side.
The cross originally stood at a road junction c.100m to the north in an area
of the village called the Shambles and beside a bridge over the Lerburn
stream. It appears to have been moved in the early 19th century, and now
stands in front of a house in which Judge Jeffreys is said to have lodged.
The calvary is constructed from stone blocks cemented together. The steps and
the socket stone are newer than the shaft and head, and are thought to date
from when the cross was moved. The cross is considered to be late 14th
century.

MAP EXTRACT
The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Wayside crosses are one of several types of Christian cross erected during the
medieval period, mostly from the 9th to 15th centuries AD. In addition to
serving the function of reiterating and reinforcing the Christian faith
amongst those who passed the cross and of reassuring the traveller, wayside
crosses often fulfilled a role as waymarkers, especially in difficult and
otherwise unmarked terrain. The crosses might be on regularly used routes
linking ordinary settlements or on routes having a more specifically religious
function, including those providing access to religious sites for parishioners
and funeral processions, or marking long-distance routes frequented on
pilgrimages.
Over 350 wayside crosses are known nationally, concentrated in south west
England throughout Cornwall and on Dartmoor where they form the commonest type
of stone cross. A small group also occurs on the North York Moors. Relatively
few examples have been recorded elsewhere and these are generally confined to
remote moorland locations.
Outside Cornwall almost all wayside crosses take the form of a `Latin' cross,
in which the cross-head itself is shaped within the projecting arms of an
unenclosed cross. In Cornwall wayside crosses vary considerably in form and
decoration. The commonest type includes a round, or `wheel', head on the faces
of which various forms of cross or related designs were carved in relief or
incised, the spaces between the cross arms possibly pierced. The design was
sometimes supplemented with a relief figure of Christ and the shaft might bear
decorative panels and motifs. Less common forms in Cornwall include the
`Latin' cross and, much rarer, the simple slab with a low relief cross on both
faces. Rare examples of wheel-head and slab-form crosses also occur within the
North York Moors group. Most wayside crosses have either a simple socketed
base or show no evidence for a separate base at all.
Wayside crosses contribute significantly to our understanding of medieval
religious customs and sculptural traditions and to our knowledge of medieval
routeways and settlement patterns. All wayside crosses which survive as earth-
fast monuments, except those which are extremely damaged and removed from
their original locations, are considered worthy of protection.

Despite a number of elements of the cross being missing, and having been moved
from its original location, Wedmore village cross still has its shaft and head
intact, and carries with it a history of being the official site of fairs and
markets in the village. The cross now stands in front of a house in which
local tradition says Judge Jeffreys lodged, and it was on this cross, when it
stood in the Shambles, that he is said to have hanged a doctor, because he
helped to dress the wounds of a dying Puritan.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
Pooley, C, Old Stone Crosses of Somerset, (1877), 114-115

Source: Historic England

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