Ancient Monuments

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Lady Godiva's churchyard cross in St Bartholomew's churchyard

A Scheduled Monument in Penn, Wolverhampton

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Latitude: 52.5551 / 52°33'18"N

Longitude: -2.157 / 2°9'25"W

OS Eastings: 389452.339178

OS Northings: 295267.592492

OS Grid: SO894952

Mapcode National: GBR 15X.ZF

Mapcode Global: VH913.K1KK

Entry Name: Lady Godiva's churchyard cross in St Bartholomew's churchyard

Scheduled Date: 23 February 1998

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1017816

English Heritage Legacy ID: 30032

County: Wolverhampton

Electoral Ward/Division: Penn

Built-Up Area: Wolverhampton

Traditional County: Staffordshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): West Midlands

Church of England Parish: Penn St Bartholomew

Church of England Diocese: Lichfield


The monument includes the plinth, the three steps and socket stone of a
standing cross within the churchyard of St Bartholomew's Church, immediately
south of the nave. The cross, which is Listed Grade II, is of stepped form and
is pre-Norman in date.
The steps are circular in plan, and the bottom step measures 2.78m in diameter
and at least 0.19m high. The middle step measures 2.24m in diameter, and is at
least 0.28m high, and the top step measures 1.84m in diameter and 0.12m high.
The steps are all partly bonded with mortar. The socket stone is circular in
plan and measures 0.76m in diameter by 0.37m high. It is damaged, but part of
the squared socket survives in the centre and measures 0.29m square with
part of a stone peg surviving in the socket.
The cross was uncovered in 1912, during restoration of a medieval cross (the
subject of a separate scheduling) which stood above the pre-Norman cross on
the same site. It was consolidated in situ and presented for display in a
stone revetted pit, 0.85m deep to the base of the bottom step of the cross,
and measuring 3.25m by 4m. The pit sides form the edge of the monument.

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.

Lady Godiva's cross in St Bartholomew's churchyard is an important example of
a pre-Norman standing cross with a circular stepped base and socket stone.
Situated in a prominent position close to the south wall of the church, it is
believed to stand in its original position. Considerable remains survive from
the pre-Norman period, and the cross is rare in having been discovered lying
directly below a later standing cross of the medieval period during
restorations in 1912. The existence of two periods of standing cross, one
superimposed above the other, is a rare occurrence and illustrates the
continued function of the site as a focus of public worship, which continued
with the restoration of the later cross in 1912.

Source: Historic England


Various SMR Officers, Notes in SMR File unpublished,

Source: Historic England

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