Ancient Monuments

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Churchyard cross in St Mary the Virgin's churchyard

A Scheduled Monument in Kempsey, Worcestershire

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Latitude: 52.14 / 52°8'23"N

Longitude: -2.2232 / 2°13'23"W

OS Eastings: 384820.976

OS Northings: 249096.062002

OS Grid: SO848490

Mapcode National: GBR 1GQ.W6M

Mapcode Global: VH930.FG1V

Entry Name: Churchyard cross in St Mary the Virgin's churchyard

Scheduled Date: 11 July 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1016114

English Heritage Legacy ID: 29856

County: Worcestershire

Civil Parish: Kempsey

Built-Up Area: Kempsey

Traditional County: Worcestershire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Worcestershire

Church of England Parish: The baptist

Church of England Diocese: Worcester


The monument includes a standing stone cross, located within the churchyard of
St Mary the Virgin's Church, approximately 21m to the north of the north
porch. The cross, which is Listed Grade II, is of stepped form, and is
principally medieval in date with some later additions. The monument includes
a base of two steps and a socket stone, the shaft, the knop and the head.

The steps are square in plan and are constructed of grey sandstone blocks. The
bottom step incorporates six stones, and measures 2.25m square by 0.19m high.
The top step also incorporates six stones, and measures 1.4m by 1.3m and is
0.17m high. The roughly square to octagonal socket stone, which rests on the
top step, measures 0.75m square by 0.75m high. It has an unusual form, with
differently shaped corners. The north west and south west corners of the
socket stone are square at the base rising through chamfered corners to an
octagonal plan at the top. The south east corner is octagonal at the base and
on the surface. The north east corner is also octagonal at the base and
surface, although the corner rises up at a slight angle. Mortared to the top
of the socket stone is the shaft. This is 1.53m high, and tapers from 0.37m
square at the base to a 0.23m square at the top. The central area of the shaft
has slightly chamfered corners. A simple square sandstone block serves as a
knop or platform for the cross head which takes the form of a simple crucifix,
facing north and south. The west arm of the crucifix has been broken and
remortared, as has the base of the head, where it joins the knop. The shaft,
the knop and the head are all modern additions. The full height of the cross
is approximately 3m. All parts of the cross are constructed from a grey
sandstone similar to that used to build the church.

The surface of the pathway, which lies within the protective margin around the
cross, is excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath it is

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 1 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

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.

The churchyard cross in St Mary the Virgin's churchyard is a good example of a
medieval standing cross with a square stepped base and an unusual sub-
octagonal shaped socket stone. Situated close to the northern entrance to the
churchyard it is believed to stand in or near its original location. Whilst
only the base and socket stone have survived from medieval times, the
subsequent restoration of the cross, with the addition of the shaft, the knop
and the head, illustrates the continued function of the cross as a public
monument and amenity.

Source: Historic England


DOE, Buildings of Special Hist & Arch Interest,

Source: Historic England

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