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Churchyard cross in St Lawrence's churchyard

A Scheduled Monument in Meriden, Solihull

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Coordinates

Latitude: 52.4322 / 52°25'55"N

Longitude: -1.6304 / 1°37'49"W

OS Eastings: 425225.941999

OS Northings: 281644.657501

OS Grid: SP252816

Mapcode National: GBR 5KB.GM7

Mapcode Global: VHBWW.P4F9

Entry Name: Churchyard cross in St Lawrence's churchyard

Scheduled Date: 18 March 1998

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1017813

English Heritage Legacy ID: 30027

County: Solihull

Civil Parish: Meriden

Traditional County: Warwickshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): West Midlands

Church of England Parish: Meriden St Laurence

Church of England Diocese: Coventry

Details

The monument includes a standing cross of red sandstone, located within the
churchyard of St Lawrence's Church, approximately 12m south of the nave. The
cross, which stands to a height of 1.05m, is principally medieval in date with
some later additions, and includes the plinth, socket stone, shaft, and a
later column and sundial.
The socket stone measures approximately 0.73m square and at least 0.27m high.
The squared end of the shaft is morticed into the socket. The medieval shaft
rises through chamfered corners to a tapering octagonal section. The column
and the sundial were added to the shaft in the 18th century. The brass sundial
bears the date 1749.
The gravestones, where they fall within the cross's protective margin, 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 cross in St Lawrence's churchyard is a good example of a medieval standing
cross with a square socket stone. Situated in a prominent position close to
the south wall of the nave, it is believed to stand in or near its original
position. Substantial parts of the cross survive from the medieval period,
whilst the subsequent remodelling of the shaft and insertion of the sundial
illustrate the continued function of the cross as a public monument and
amenity.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Other
Various SMR Officers, Unpublished notes in SMR Office,

Source: Historic England

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