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Market cross, 35m and 50m south of St Thomas' Church

A Scheduled Monument in Stanhope, County Durham

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Latitude: 54.7475 / 54°44'50"N

Longitude: -2.0065 / 2°0'23"W

OS Eastings: 399675.8468

OS Northings: 539167.3628

OS Grid: NY996391

Mapcode National: GBR GFFJ.DY

Mapcode Global: WHB3D.4XRX

Entry Name: Market cross, 35m and 50m south of St Thomas' Church

Scheduled Date: 24 September 1999

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1016876

English Heritage Legacy ID: 32061

County: County Durham

Civil Parish: Stanhope

Built-Up Area: Stanhope

Traditional County: Durham

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): County Durham

Church of England Parish: Stanhope and Rookhope

Church of England Diocese: Durham


The monument includes Stanhope market cross, which is situated to the south of
St Thomas' Church. The monument includes a base, socket stone, shaft and
cross. It also includes the 17th century cross shaft, which is situated 5m
north of the entrance to the St Thomas' churchyard. This 17th century shaft
was originally part of the market cross and lies within a separate area of
protection. The four stepped base is 3m square and 0.8m high. The top step has
four iron staples leaded into it. The socket stone is 0.7m square, 0.23m high
and is chamfered on its upper edge. The shaft is 2m high, 0.35m square at its
base and tapers with height. The cross head is of plate form with billets at
the arm intersections. It is 1m wide and 1m high and has wedge type arm
terminals. On the north, east and west sides the monument is surrounded by a
0.5m wide perimeter of cobbles. The 17th century shaft is 1.8m high. It has a
squared base 0.26m in width and 0.1m high. Above this the shaft is a column of
0.26m diameter. The top of the shaft is a square of 0.43m in width and 0.1m in
height surmounted by a pyramid of 0.07m height. At 1.3m high the column shaft
has been partially squared by indentations which were for the attachment of a
wooden covering for the market.
The upper parts of the monument (socket stone, shaft and cross) date to the
restoration of the monument in 1871, but the base is earlier and is in its
original position. The base of the monument and the shaft in the churchyard
form parts of the cross erected to commemorate the re-founding of Stanhope
market in 1669 by Bishop John Cosin. The market originated in 1418, when
Bishop Langley granted a market to be held every week on Friday and two annual
fairs (May 6th and August 29th).
The market cross and the 17th century cross shaft are Listed Grade II.
The surface of the metalled road and paving slabs where they impinge on the
area of the monument are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground
beneath them is included.

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.

Despite the replacement of the cross shaft and head, Stanhope market cross is
the only market cross which still survives in its original position within
County Durham. The shaft and head of the 1669 cross, which now survive in the
adjacent churchyard, are of unusual form and reflect Puritan influence on
iconography in the second half of the 17th century. Information on the
original setting and use of the market cross will be preserved around its

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Fordyce, W, The History and Antiquities of the County Palatine of Durham, (1857)

Source: Historic England

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