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Churchyard cross in St John The Evangelist's churchyard

A Scheduled Monument in Kenn, North Somerset

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Latitude: 51.4167 / 51°25'0"N

Longitude: -2.8411 / 2°50'27"W

OS Eastings: 341605.684

OS Northings: 168969.141

OS Grid: ST416689

Mapcode National: GBR JD.PVG3

Mapcode Global: VH7C7.PNW9

Entry Name: Churchyard cross in St John The Evangelist's churchyard

Scheduled Date: 2 January 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1015515

English Heritage Legacy ID: 28837

County: North Somerset

Civil Parish: Kenn

Traditional County: Somerset

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Somerset


The monument includes a restored cross situated in the churchyard at Kenn 6.2m
south east of the south porch of the church.
The cross, which is Listed Grade II, has a four step octagonal calvary, socket
stone, shaft, decorated finial and simple floriated cross head. The stones of
the calvary have moved over time causing a variation in measurements. The
first step of the calvary is between 0.35m and 0.4m high, the second, third
and fourth steps are 0.3m to 0.35m, 0.3m and 0.25m high. The first step is
3.2m in diameter with a deep drip on its upper bed and a set-off at its lower,
the sides of its octagon varying between 1.3m and 1.5m wide. Above the fourth
step of the calvary is the socket stone. The socket stone has a square base
with buttresses at its angles forming an octagonal top. It is 0.8m wide and
0.53m high. The lead lined central socket is 0.35m square in which is cemented
the 0.3m square base of the shaft. The shaft is c.2.2m high; its square base
is stopped and the shaft continues in octagonal form as it tapers to a triple
filleted finial with lattice decoration and simple floriated cross head.
The calvary is constructed from stone blocks, and the socket stone is hewn
from one piece of stone. In the 19th century the cross head was a square block
bearing a sundial, but the cross was restored in 1920 when the present cross
head was erected. A plaque recording the restoration lies on the north side of
the cross. The cross is dated to the early 14th century.

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.

Although the cross head has been replaced, the standing cross in the
churchyard at Kenn survives well as a visually impressive monument of the
medieval period in what is likely to be its original location. The medieval
cross relates to the Church of St John The Evangelist which had its origins
in the Norman period, but is mainly 13th century.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Pooley, C, Old Stone Crosses of Somerset, (1877), 153

Source: Historic England

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