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A Survey of Medieval (and earlier) Freestanding Crosses in Norfolk

 Norfolk Cross Survey: Contents

Appendix Four: Omissions, Loose Ends, & Sundry Miscellanea

   

Originally, the very first entry in this survey was intended to be a cross in the parish of Alburgh, which is north-east of Harleston. In a work by Nicola Whyte was a mention that "Reverend C. Sutton of Newton Flotman" had recorded a perambulation of the boundaries in 1794, noting "various landmark features, including a freestanding cross".1 I soon found that Sutton had never been at Newton Flotman at all. He was in fact rector of Alburgh and vicar of Thornham. The Norfolk Record Office catalogue reference given by Whyte confirmed this, as it was held in the parish records of Alburgh.2 I obtained a copy of this document, which is very easy to read, and every stage of the perambulation is easy to follow - but there is absolutely no mention of any such cross on the boundary! This made me wary of academic references, so I tried to consult original sources wherever possible. I include this note here simply to make other researchers aware of the error, should they come across it.

 

Similarly, an error in the NRO catalogue made me search for another cross that never existed. It describes a 1723 estate map of Merton as showing "Mertin Hall, Cross, woods or meres, otherwise just tracks or roads".3 Again, seeing the original document revealed that the 'cross' was in fact a post mill, last recorded as still working in the early 1700s.

 

In the section on 'Parameters, Methods & Sources' I mentioned that I had included in this survey all of Basil Cozens-Hardy's listed crosses - whether confirmed or speculative - with four exceptions.

 

The first of these is a socket hole once in the altar steps within Hockering church. This entry contradicted his own stated criterion of not including "crosses within a church", so I've no idea why he thought it worthy of note. He found it in the writings of Tom Martin in 1733, but even Martin only called it "a socket for a cross...or mortise hole for something to be fixed in."

 

Second is a stone block just outside the door to the old Shirehall building in Holt, which Cozens-Hardy thought to be an upturned cross pedestal. However, English Heritage now recognises it to have been a pad support for a timber post from the Shirehall itself. Both post and pad were replaced by an RSJ, but there is another 18th century carved post and block still inside.

 

Thirdly, Cozens-Hardy noted an asymmetrical, octagonal length of stone in a hedge beside the road between Walsingham and the deserted village of Egmere. With the letter 'W' on one side and 'E' on the other, this was almost certainly the boundary stone shown on this road on old Ordnance Survey maps. Even Cozens-Hardy considered it may have never been more than a shaft.

 

The fourth exception is a road named 'Cross Gate' at Walpole St. Andrew, seen on Faden's 1797 map. Cozens-Hardy was reaching somewhat on this one, querying whether it referred to a cross, a crossroads, or even the former Cross Keys Inn. But by 1826 the road had gone, it could have been named for several other reasons, and with no evidence connecting it to a medieval cross, I couldn't honestly include it in the survey.

 

For similar reasons - and from different sources - I felt that I also couldn't include the following:

 

'Le Crosse acre' recorded at Cantley in 1696.4

A piece of land called 'Syr Howes cros' at Scarning in 1507.5

A furlong named 'Dicons Crosse' at Langley in 1613.6

'Halgate Crosse' in 16437 and 'Crosse Close' in 1689, both plots of land at Earsham.8

In the 1595 field book of Mileham, a plot called 'Cross Land Furlong'.9

'Wardes Crosse Feilde' at North Tuddenham in 1596.10

A "close at Grimse Meadowe next to way to Stubbies Crosse alias Black Thorne Moore" in 1695 at Saham Toney.11

 

All are too late in date to be confident that they might be referring to a freestanding cross, and I've been unable to locate any other supporting evidence.

 

Even later is land "abutting on highway from Greengate Cross to Worthing to the west" recorded at Swanton Morley in 1809.12 Greengate is the name of both a hamlet and a street at Swanton today, and the 'Cross' might well be the junction of roads there. At Terrington St. Clement, a crossroads that is now in the centre of the village is called 'Kidds Cross' on the 1840 tithe map.13 Just north of this is an early medieval field named 'Kiddes Croft'. It may be that 'croft' and 'cross' became muddled at some point; either way, I can find nothing to point to an actual wayside cross. Intriguing but likely irrelevant is a "highway called Livertree Cross" at Garboldisham in 1715.14 There is also an earlier reference to 'Leuartreweye' (but unfortunately no cross) in 1397.15 I would be delighted to hear if another researcher has carried out the in-depth documentary parish analysis needed to shed light on any of these names.

 

Only a few times in the survey have I used the recorded name of a medieval person to support the possible former existence of a cross: for example, 'Henry atte Cros' in Castle Acre, and 'Michael ad-crucem de Magna Sethhiche' at Wiggenhall St. Germans. Such 'evidence' had to be used sparingly, as the bearer of the name might well have originated elsewhere. There's little, for example, to be derived simply from the name John atte Cross, known in 1345 at Deopham. On the other hand, William at Cross (de Cruce) at Dickleburgh in 1316 is of a little more interest, because of a field in that parish named 'Cross Meadow' in the tithe award. A debtor in 1340 is named as 'David atte Cross of Wicklewood', while the tithe award records a field in that village, not far from a crossroads, as 'Cross Close.' Similarly, a former crossroads once known as 'Care Cross' at Weston Longville sparks a little more significance by the presence of "John son of Geoffrey atte Cross de Morton and John atte Cross de Weston" at Morton on the Hill in 1349.16 Of particular interest to me are two references of the 13th and 14th centuries concerning the neighbouring villages of Great and Little Ryburgh. The later one records "Richard at the Cross, of Little Ryburgh", a debtor in 1304.17 The earlier, of 1292, mentions "William at the Cross of Great Bibure" (sic).18 A crossing over the river Wensum separates the two villages, which just happen to be on the 'Walsingham Way' pilgrims' route leading north-west from North Elmham. But while the names are suggestive of a wayside cross at one or both settlements, without further corroboration the matter has to remain unresolved.

 

Finally, there are (or were) a couple of odd objects that fit nowhere else in the survey. In the little triangle at Common Place (formerly the Tuesday Market Place) at Little Walsingham there still stands a 16th century pump house, originally a covered well. On top of it is a short octagonal shaft that, since 1908, has supported a small ironwork brazier. According to the NHER, it originally supported a medieval stone cross that fell off in 1900 (though some say it was 1902.) However, a woodcut printed in 1856 shows no such cross. On top of the shaft (a predecessor to the current one) is shown some kind of wire-work basket or other shape.19 I can find no early source for the presence of any cross-piece, and unless it was once a part of an unrecorded freestanding cross, it doesn't belong in the main body of this survey.

 

In 1849, the antiquary Dawson Turner mentioned an object at All Saints church at Crostwight, in the parish of Honing, that otherwise seems to be recorded nowhere else. "In the churchyard," he said, "is a remarkable stone of considerable thickness, in the shape of a cross, about six feet long, on whose surface was originally sculptured another cross, now well-nigh effaced. I know nothing like it in Norfolk; nor indeed elsewhere, except the support to the monumental effigy of Strongbow at Dublin".20 The latter reference is to the sepulchral effigy of Richard de Clare (died 1176, later known as 'Strongbow') which is in Christ Church Cathedral. The effigy is actually of the 15th century, and of someone else entirely, but it rests on a thick L-shaped slab of stone now mostly hidden within a wooden casing. The cross-slab at Crostwight seems to have disappeared long ago, and I can find nothing more about it.

 

References:

 

1.   Nicola Whyte: 'Norfolk Wayside Crosses: Biographies of Landscape and Place' in 'Art, Faith and Place in East Anglia' (ed. Heslop, Mellings & Thefner,

      Boydell Press, 2012), p.175.

2.   NRO: PD 196/82

3.   NRO: WLS XLV/1 (part)

4.   NRO: MC 2575/1/17, 983X5

5.   Nat Arch, Kew: E 40/10140

6.   NRO: BEA 15, 433X9

7.   NRO: MEA 1/24, 677X8

8.   NRO: MEA 1/82, 677X4

9.   G.A. Carthew: 'The Hundred of Launditch and Deanery of Brisley' Part 2 (1878), p.406.

10. NRO: MS 2782, 3C2

11. NRO: BRA 505/4/1-2, 715X6

12. NRO: EVL 389, 461 x 1

13. Nat Arch, Kew: IR 30/23/552

14. NRO: MC 421/5/1-4, 734X7

15. Northants Archives: F(M) Charter/1816

16. NRO: DCN 78/2

17. Nat Arch, Kew: C 241/45/173

18. NRO: BL/O/Y(e)2

19. Rev. James Lee Warner: 'Walsingham Priory, a Memoir' in 'The Archaeological Journal' Vol.13 (June 1856), p.121.

20. Dawson Turner: 'Drawings by Mrs. Gunn of Mural Paintings in Crostwight Church' in 'Norfolk Archaeology' Vol.2 (1849), p.362.

   

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