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Churchyard cross in St Mary's churchyard

A Scheduled Monument in Yatton, North Somerset

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Coordinates

Latitude: 51.3847 / 51°23'5"N

Longitude: -2.8186 / 2°49'7"W

OS Eastings: 343128.024527

OS Northings: 165395.509382

OS Grid: ST431653

Mapcode National: GBR JF.S1PY

Mapcode Global: VH7CG.3G89

Entry Name: Churchyard cross in St Mary's churchyard

Scheduled Date: 9 November 1974

Last Amended: 23 December 1996

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1015508

English Heritage Legacy ID: 28828

County: North Somerset

Civil Parish: Yatton

Built-Up Area: Yatton

Traditional County: Somerset

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Somerset

Details

The monument includes a restored cross situated in the churchyard at Yatton
c.6m SSE of the church porch.
The cross, which is Listed Grade II, has a five step octagonal calvary,
plinth, a socket stone and shaft with a decorated terminal surmounted by a
lantern cross head. The first step of the calvary is 0.5m high, and the
second, third, fourth and fifth steps are 0.4m, 0.35m, 0.32m and 0.3m high.
The first step is 5.1m in diameter with mortared flagstones on its upper
surface forming an overhanging drip, and each side of its octagon is 2.1m
long. The width of the octagonal sides of the second, third, fourth and fifth
steps are 1.8m, 1.5m, 1.2m and 1m respectively. Above the fifth step of the
calvary is the plinth which is cut with triangular decoration at its angles.
The plinth is 1.7m wide and 0.3m high with each side of its octagon being 0.7m
long. The socket stone, which sits on the plinth, has a square base and convex
broaches at its angles forming an octagonal top. It is 1.07m wide and 0.84m
high with a central socket 0.4m square. On each face of the socket stone is
the figure of an angel. The shaft is c.2.5m high, square at its base, but then
stopped and continuing in octagonal form as it tapers to an ornamental
terminal and cross head. The cross head has four recessed faces formed by
moulded spires at its angles. On the west side is the Crucifixion, on the east
the figure of Jesus, King Alfred is on the south side, and an ecclesiastical
figure or saint on the north side. The lantern head is surmounted by a moulded
spire.
The calvary is constructed from stone blocks and mortared flagstones, and the
socket stone is hewn from one piece of stone. Investigation by probing around
the base of the cross at the time of the field visit showed that there appears
to be a platform of stones around the cross and beneath the surface of the
grass at a depth of c.0.2m and to a width of 0.45m from the edges of the
calvary. These remains are included in the scheduling.
In the mid-19th century the cross had no shaft and head. The shaft and lantern
head is a replacement erected in 1919 when the cross was refurbished in
commemoration of the men of Yatton who died in the First World War. Records of
the church show that the cross was erected in 1499 and cost 18 pounds.

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

This List entry has been amended to add the source for War Memorials Register. This source was not used in the compilation of this List entry but is added here as a guide for further reading, 10 January 2018.

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.

Although the shaft and cross head has been replaced, the standing cross in the
churchyard at Yatton survives well as a visually impressive monument of the
medieval period in what is likely to be its original location. Its massive
structure and style of ornamentation qualifies it as an outstanding example of
its class. Records of the church date the erection of the cross and its cost.
The late 15th century cross relates to the construction of the south porch and
the Newton Chapel in the Church of St Mary, the building work being
attributed to Isabel de Chedder.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
Pooley, C, Old Stone Crosses of Somerset, (1877), 41-43
Websites
War Memorials Register, accessed 10 January 2018 from http://www.iwm.org.uk/memorials/item/memorial/72672

Source: Historic England

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