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Churchyard cross at St Mary's Church

A Scheduled Monument in Nether Alderley, Cheshire East

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Coordinates

Latitude: 53.2819 / 53°16'55"N

Longitude: -2.2386 / 2°14'19"W

OS Eastings: 384185.571001

OS Northings: 376134.454

OS Grid: SJ841761

Mapcode National: GBR DZTH.47

Mapcode Global: WHBBF.LR6V

Entry Name: Churchyard cross at St Mary's Church

Scheduled Date: 29 January 1998

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1017840

English Heritage Legacy ID: 30363

County: Cheshire East

Civil Parish: Nether Alderley

Traditional County: Cheshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cheshire

Church of England Parish: Alderley St Mary

Church of England Diocese: Chester

Details

The monument includes the base and part of the shaft of a cross in the
churchyard of St Mary's Church. It stands 7m from the south porch of the
church and is Listed Grade II.
The cross base is a single block of sandstone set on a step built of dressed
stone. The step measures 1.5m square and 0.3m high. The block base measures
1.1m square at the bottom, shaped to an octagonal top with simple shoulder
pads at each corner. The shaft is octagonal set in a square socle. The cross
stands 1.3m high. The letter `B' is cut on the east face. In the top of the
shaft fragment is a fitting for a sundial, now missing.
The gravestones which have been laid flat beside the monument 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 the churchyard at Nether Alderley is reasonably well preserved
despite the loss of the cross head and part of the shaft. It has been
preserved by conversion to a sundial during the sixteenth century.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
Crossley, F H, 'Trans. Lancs and Cheshire Arch Soc' in Trans. Lancs and Cheshire Arch Soc: Volume 55, (1940), 116

Source: Historic England

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