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Churchyard cross in St Andrew's churchyard

A Scheduled Monument in Chew Magna, Bath and North East Somerset

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Latitude: 51.3663 / 51°21'58"N

Longitude: -2.6094 / 2°36'33"W

OS Eastings: 357673.612026

OS Northings: 163197.731101

OS Grid: ST576631

Mapcode National: GBR JQ.T0BV

Mapcode Global: VH890.QXDH

Entry Name: Churchyard cross in St Andrew's churchyard

Scheduled Date: 11 March 1953

Last Amended: 11 July 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1017570

English Heritage Legacy ID: 28832

County: Bath and North East Somerset

Civil Parish: Chew Magna

Built-Up Area: Chew Magna

Traditional County: Somerset

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Somerset


The monument includes a cross situated in the churchyard at Chew Magna c.40m
south west of the south porch of the church.
The cross has a base, a six step octagonal calvary, a socket stone and shaft.
The base is composed of two courses of rough stones making an octagonal
platform 6m in diameter and 0.2m high on which the calvary sits. Each of the
six steps of the calvary varies slightly in height between 0.25m and 0.35m due
to movement of the stones over time, but the average height of each step is
0.3m. Similarly, the octagonal sides of each step are not uniform because of
movement. The first step is the same diameter as the base, with an
overhanging drip, and the sides of its octagon vary between 2.1m and 2.5m in
width. Each step is ornamented with sunk panelled facing. Above the sixth
step of the calvary is the octagonal socket stone which has a weather drip
moulding and chamfered set-off at its base. It is 1.3m wide and 0.8m high
with a central lead lined socket 0.4m square. The shaft, broken at a height
of c.2.5m, is square at its base, but then stopped and continues in octagonal
form as it tapers upwards.
The calvary is constructed from stone blocks and the socket stone is hewn from
one piece of stone. The cross sits on a slight mound of earth 0.1m high,
which extends to 0.5m around the base of the cross, except on the southern
side of the cross where it is abutted by graves. Investigation by probing at
the time of the field visit showed that there appears to be stone below the
surface of the mound at a depth of c.0.2m. These remains are included in the
scheduling. In the mid-19th century the cross is reported as having seven
steps, thus the mound may indicate a buried calvary step.
A watercolour dated 1823 by `Mr Hall-Vicar' shows the cross in the same
condition as it is today. The cross is considered to be 15th century in date.
There are remains of two other crosses in Chew Magna. Just inside the
churchyard gate is a socket stone placed upside down. This stone was known as
`The Resting Stone' around 1900, as coffins were rested there inside the
churchyard gate. The second fragment of cross is on the downstream cutwater
of the 15th century Tun Bridge. This is a triangular section stone with a
rectangular socket cut into its upper surface, which is thought to be the
socket for a bridge cross contemporary with the rest of the structure.
The gravestones situated on the mound are excluded from the scheduling, but
the ground beneath them is included. This necessarily involves the graves
themselves given that their precise extent cannot be accurately mapped.

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 part of the shaft and the head of the cross are missing, the standing
cross in the churchyard at Chew Magna is an impressive monument of the
medieval period. It survives well in what is likely to be its original
location. The 15th century cross relates to the Church of St Andrew which was
built to its present form over the period 1190-1500. This was one of three
crosses in Chew Magna.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Pooley, C, Old Stone Crosses of Somerset, (1877), 37-38

Source: Historic England

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