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Churchyard cross in St Leonard's churchyard

A Scheduled Monument in Blakemere, Herefordshire,

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Coordinates

Latitude: 52.0646 / 52°3'52"N

Longitude: -2.9321 / 2°55'55"W

OS Eastings: 336200.428425

OS Northings: 241102.990491

OS Grid: SO362411

Mapcode National: GBR F9.D1BB

Mapcode Global: VH783.4C9M

Entry Name: Churchyard cross in St Leonard's churchyard

Scheduled Date: 24 October 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1016342

English Heritage Legacy ID: 29880

County: Herefordshire,

Civil Parish: Blakemere

Traditional County: Herefordshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Herefordshire

Church of England Parish: Blakemere

Church of England Diocese: Hereford

Details

The monument includes a standing stone cross located within the churchyard of
St Leonard's Church approximately 11m to the south east of the south porch.
The cross, which is Listed Grade II, is medieval in date with later additions.
It is of stepped form and includes a base of four steps and a socket stone, a
shaft, a knop, and a tabernacle head with a crucifix at the top.
The base is square in plan and is constructed from local sandstone. The bottom
step measures 3.18m square, with the four steps rising to a height of 1.22m.
The socket stone is also square in plan, rising through inverted chamfers to
an octagonal section, and measures 0.65m square and 0.57m high. An ogee headed
niche, in the west face of the socket stone, is thought to have been carved to
hold the Pyx or Holy Water when Mass was celebrated at the cross, or to hold a
statue or icon. The shaft is mortised into the socket stone and bonded with
lead and iron, and is 0.3m square at the base, rising through chamfered
corners in tapering octagonal section to a height of approximately 2.48m.
At the top of the shaft is an octagonal to square flared knop, which supports
the modern tabernacle head. This has a gabled roof and shallow niches on all
four sides. The north facing niche displays an eroded figure. A simple
crucifix which faces east and west sits on top of the tabernacle head. The
overall height of the cross is approximately 5.17m.
The pathway abutting the cross to the north and the gravemarker to the south
of the cross are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath
them is included.

MAP EXTRACT
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 at St Leonard's Church represents a good example of a
medieval standing cross with a square stepped base. It occupies a prominent
position to the south east of the south porch and is believed to stand in or
near its original position. Whilst most of the cross has survived from
medieval times the subsequent restoration of the cross demonstrates its
continued function as a public monument and amenity.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
Marples, B, 'Transactions of the Woolhope Naturalists Field Club' in The Niche in Medieval Churchyard Crosses, , Vol. 40, (1972), 321
Other
RCHM, An Inventory of the Historical Monuments of Herefordshire, (1931)

Source: Historic England

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