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Latitude: 53.224 / 53°13'26"N
Longitude: -2.166 / 2°9'57"W
OS Eastings: 389014.967
OS Northings: 369676.169
OS Grid: SJ890696
Mapcode National: GBR 11M.Z1W
Mapcode Global: WHBBV.P7S7
Entry Name: Cross in the churchyard of the Church of St James
Scheduled Date: 29 January 1998
Source: Historic England
Source ID: 1017842
English Heritage Legacy ID: 30365
County: Cheshire East
Civil Parish: Gawsworth
Traditional County: Cheshire
Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cheshire
Church of England Parish: Gawsworth St James
Church of England Diocese: Chester
The monument includes a churchyard cross standing 3m south east of the south
porch of the Church of St James. The base and a section of the shaft are set
on three steps. The first step is flush with the ground level and measures 3m
square. The second step is of dressed sandstone blocks and measures 2.35m
square and stands 0.28m high. The third step, also of dressed stones, measures
1.75m square and is 0.3m high. The block base is of finely carved sandstone
and measures 1.05m square and 0.75m high. The base is square rising to
octagonal and there are grotesque beasts at each shoulder. The shaft is
octagonal and a section 0.85m in length survives. The cross dates from the
15th century and is Listed Grade II.
Set on the top of the shaft and secured with iron bands is a modern wooden
Gravestones which have been erected or laid flat on the west and east sides of
the cross base are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath
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
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 churchyard cross at Gawsworth is a very fine piece of late medieval
carving. It survives well despite the loss of the cross head and part of the
shaft. It is in its original location on the south side of the church.
Source: Historic England
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