Ancient Monuments

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Standing cross on the village green

A Scheduled Monument in Meriden, Solihull

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Coordinates

Latitude: 52.4379 / 52°26'16"N

Longitude: -1.6496 / 1°38'58"W

OS Eastings: 423915.0083

OS Northings: 282275.54131

OS Grid: SP239822

Mapcode National: GBR 5K9.3RS

Mapcode Global: VHBWP.CZ8G

Entry Name: Standing cross on the village green

Scheduled Date: 28 June 1939

Last Amended: 16 January 1998

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1017814

English Heritage Legacy ID: 30028

County: Solihull

Civil Parish: Meriden

Built-Up Area: 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 the three steps, socket stone and shaft of a sandstone
standing cross, which is Listed Grade II. It is located at the west end of
the village green at Meriden.
The cross is of stepped form, and is medieval in date standing over 3m in
height. The steps are octagonal in plan, the bottom step measuring 2.87m in
width and the top step measuring 1.65m in width, with an overall height to the
top step of 0.82m. The surface of the steps is bevelled.
The socket stone is squared with corners chamfered to form an octagonal top.
It measures approximately 0.92m in width and is 0.73m high. The shaft rises
through chamfered corners to a tapering octagonal section, and is morticed
into the socket. There are grooves on the faces of the shaft which relate to
former iron supports. The cross is partly bonded with mortar.
The fence and signs are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground
beneath these features 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.

Local legend records that the cross at Meriden marks the centre of England,
although it may have served other functions at its origin in the 15th century.
Photographs record that the cross remained the centre for the recreational
activities of village children into the late 19th century. In 1951 the cross
was taken to London to form a part of the Ideal Home Exhibition, and later
formed the focus of improvements to the green during the Festival of Britain.
The cross survives well retaining much of its medieval fabric and standing
near its original position. As the acknowledged centre of England it has
continuing importance as a public monument and amenity.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Other
Various SMR Officers, Unpublished Notes in SMR File,

Source: Historic England

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