Ancient Monuments

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Cross 160m north east of St Mary Magdalen Church

A Scheduled Monument in Freeby, Leicestershire

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Latitude: 52.7564 / 52°45'23"N

Longitude: -0.7971 / 0°47'49"W

OS Eastings: 481275.709536

OS Northings: 318326.546016

OS Grid: SK812183

Mapcode National: GBR CQJ.39S

Mapcode Global: WHFK1.QZM6

Entry Name: Cross 160m north east of St Mary Magdalen Church

Scheduled Date: 24 July 1998

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1017999

English Heritage Legacy ID: 30237

County: Leicestershire

Civil Parish: Freeby

Traditional County: Leicestershire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Leicestershire

Church of England Parish: Saxby with Stapleford and Wyfordby

Church of England Diocese: Leicester


The monument includes a standing stone cross 160m north east of St Mary
Magdalen Church. The cross is post-medieval in date and includes a pedestal
base, a socket stone, a shaft and cross head.

The pedestal base is 1.2m in height, octagonal in plan and consists of four
steps, the lowest of which is a maximum of 2.3m in diameter. The socket stone
is approximately 0.8m square and 0.5m high with decoration on each vertical
face. Set into the centre of the socket is a chamfered stone shaft, 2.6m high,
of square section and decorated with emblem quatrefoils on all faces. It is
surmounted by a moulded capital with a cross head. The full surviving height
of the cross is approximately 4.3m.

The cross is considered to have been constructed to commemorate a major
rebuilding of Stapleford Hall in 1633. It is thought to have been placed on
the site of an earlier cross marking the location of Stapleford's Friday
market, granted in 1308 to Thomas, Earl of Lancaster and Leicester. The site
of the medieval village of Stapleford lies to the north east and is the
subject of a separate scheduling.

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 160m north east of St Mary Magdalen Church is a good example of a
post-medieval commemorative standing cross. It stands in close proximity to
the site of the medieval village of Stapleford, or near the original position
of a market cross. Limited activity in the area immediately surrounding the
cross indicates that archaeological deposits relating to the monument's
construction are likely to survive intact. The cross has not been restored,
and has continued in use as a monument and amenity from post-medieval times to
the present day.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Nichols, J, The History and Antiquities of the County of Leicester, (1795)
Pevsner, N, Williamson, E, The Buildings of England: Leicestershire and Rutland, (1984)
Leicestershire County Council, Site Summary Sheet 81NW.S,
RCHME, NMR Long Output Form: Sk 81 NW 5,

Source: Historic England

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