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Churchyard cross in St Mary's churchyard

A Scheduled Monument in Charlton Kings, Gloucestershire

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Latitude: 51.8827 / 51°52'57"N

Longitude: -2.0533 / 2°3'11"W

OS Eastings: 396426.733

OS Northings: 220458.007

OS Grid: SO964204

Mapcode National: GBR 2MC.X9W

Mapcode Global: VHB1Q.CYC3

Entry Name: Churchyard cross in St Mary's churchyard

Scheduled Date: 24 December 1996

Last Amended: 17 May 2000

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1017259

English Heritage Legacy ID: 28809

County: Gloucestershire

Civil Parish: Charlton Kings

Built-Up Area: Cheltenham

Traditional County: Gloucestershire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Gloucestershire

Church of England Parish: Charlton Kings St Mary

Church of England Diocese: Gloucester


The monument includes a cross with restored head situated in the churchyard at
Charlton Kings approximately 18m north of the church entrance.
The cross has a two step calvary, a socket stone, and a shaft surmounted by a
terminal and restored lantern head. The first step of the calvary is 2.15m
square, its upper surface level with the grass. The second step is 1.45m long
north-south, 1.4m long east-west and stands 0.25m high. Above this is the
square base of the socket stone. The socket stone has broaches at its angles,
forming an octagonal top. It is 0.9m wide and 0.8m high, with a socket 0.3m
square in its upper face. The shaft, which measures approximately 1.8m in
height, is square at the bottom tapering to the terminal and becoming
octagonal in section. Above this sits the restored lantern head bearing
reliefs of the Crucifixion and the Madonna on the east and west sides
respectively. On the remaining sides are depictions of saints.
The cross is Listed Grade II*.
The calvary is constructed from stone blocks. The socket stone is hewn from
one piece of stone. These, and the shaft, have the appearance of great age,
but the lantern head is 19th century. The other parts of the cross are
considered to be late 15th century. Pooley, an authority on local crosses,
notes that in 1868 a third calvary step was just visible embedded in the
earth. Due to the proximity of graves it would appear that this third step has
been destroyed. This shaft appears to be of different stone from the calvary
and base, and is cemented into the socket stone. The original cross head
appears to be sitting on a small plinth near the entrance of the churchyard,
but it is not included in the scheduling.

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.

The churchyard cross in St Mary's churchyard survives well, despite the head
having been restored, with many of its original elements intact in what is
likely to be its original location. The medieval cross relates to the church,
which dates to the late 14th century.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Pevsner, N, The Buildings of England: Gloucestershire: The Cotswolds, (1970), 119-120
Pooley, C, Notes on the Old Crosses of Gloucestershire, (1868), 49

Source: Historic England

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