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

  Norfolk Cross Survey: Contents

The Survey Parish by Parish: C - D

(Caister-on-Sea to Dunton)

     

Caister-on-Sea 

(Documented record of cross)
 

In 1875, C.J. Palmer wrote that the road from Caister to Great Yarmouth "formerly passed two wayside crosses. The base of the one which stood at a place called the Midsands [see under Great Yarmouth] still remains; but the ruins of the other near Caister were entirely removed in 1797".1 Cozens-Hardy seems to suggest that this was a cross set up in the 16th century to mark the northern side of the territory that was being disputed by the two towns. However, Swinden2 records that the crosses made to delineate the boundary were in fact "digged in the earth", and were continually renewed until the Caister to Yarmouth road was laid out in 1712. Carving large crosses in the soil was one of many common medieval 'doles' for marking fold-courses and other bounded areas. Although the road may not have existed in medieval times, there was probably a rough track between the two settlements. The location of the second wayside cross, however, is unknown. Faden's map of Norfolk, for which the surveying was carried out between 1790 and 1794, doesn't show it - nor for that matter, does it show the existing Midsands Cross. 

 

1. Charles J. Palmer: 'The Perlustration of Great Yarmouth, with Gorleston & Southtown' Vol.3 (1875), p.67.

2. Henry Swinden: 'The History & Antiquities of the Ancient Borough of Gt. Yarmouth' (1772), p.365-6.

     

Caistor St. Edmund

and Bixley 

 

(Documented record of cross)
 

Bixley used to be its own small parish until April 2019, when it was merged with Caistor. Of the village itself only earthworks, hollow ways and a burnt-out church remain. Exactly why and when it was deserted is unknown. In the late 13th century there was a grant of an acre of arable land by Roger de Mundham to Robert de Trous, situated "in the field of Bixley at the new cross".1 The church - possibly on the site of a Saxon minster - was rebuilt in 1272, and I wonder if the "new cross" was also erected around this time. Uniquely in Britain, the church is dedicated to St. Wandregesilius or Wandrille, and an image of that 7th century French abbot displayed within was a pilgrimage destination until at least the 15th century. Although the cross's location can't now be determined, I would be surprised if it was far from the church, which stands beside the medieval course of the Norwich to Bungay road, now an overgrown 'green lane' running past the churchyard gates.

 

1. NRO: PHI 30, 576X9

     

Carleton Rode 

(Possible cross site)
 

In Domesday Book, this village appears only as 'Carletuna'. Some time between 1086 and 1201 the suffix 'Rode' was added, the latter date being the first record we have of its current name, in the 'Feet of Fines for the County of Norfolk'.1 This is usually taken as being named for the de Rode family, who held Rode Hall Manor here at least as far back as 1237. However, Blomefield stated that the village: "hath the addition of rode fixed to it, from a remarkable rode or cross standing in Rode-lane, where the road from Wimondham to Diss laid".2 And that the manor "took its name from the owners, who were sirnamed from the RODE or cross they dwelt by".3 Until the word 'cross' entered the language in about the 10th century, 'rood' or 'rode' was the only English word for a cross or crucifix. Blomefield's statement is however simply a supposition; there is no definitive record of an actual cross here - and for all we know, the de Rode family might have originally hailed from North Rode in Cheshire, where a Norman named Willemus de Rode held the manor until his death in 1110.

 

Others have suggested that the parish was named after Rode Lane, which runs sinuously from Scott's Corner southward to the former turnpike road, the B1113 - although both its age and the derivation of its name are unknown. Despite a claim that it was known to have been a route favoured by pilgrims travelling to Wymondham Abbey,4 I can't find any source for this more authoritative than the guide leaflet available in the local church.

 

I had thus originally classed this entry in the survey as 'doubtful' - until I came across two other snippets of information. Firstly there is, in the parish records, a grant dated 1404 of a "messuage with 3 roods of land" to a man named 'John atte Cros'.5 Since there's no guarantee that he was a native of Carleton Rode, this must remain purely indicative. But secondly, the 1839 tithe award - which is otherwise almost completely silent with regard to field names - labels plot 41 as 'Cross Field'.6 Following Rode Lane north, beyond a junction it becomes Hall Road, which then meets Mile Road at a crossroads marked as Mears Corner, continuing onwards as Wymondham Road. 'Cross Field' sits in the north-east angle of that crossroads, very close to the boundary with Bunwell parish (TM10699424.) Whether or not there was ever an actual cross here, we may never know, but I feel there are enough clues to raise it to a 'possible'.

 

1. Walter Rye (ed.): 'Pedes Finium: or Fines, Relating to the County of Norfolk' (1881), p.71.

2. Blomefield: Vol.5 (1806), p.125.

3. Ibid, p.129.

4. Catherine Collins: 'Archaeological Test Pit Excavations in Carleton Rode' (Access Cambridge Archaeology, 2018), p.9.

5. NRO: PD 254/116

6. Nat Arch, Kew: IR 29/23/128

     

Castle Acre 

(Possible remains of cross)
 

Nos. 17 & 18 St. James' Green, just off North Street, were made in the 18th century into a pair of Holkham Estate cottages (TF81711560.) Built a century earlier, they were originally one building, probably belonging to the farm that stood nearby. The NHER says simply that part of a cross had been found in the garden here (NHER No.32839.) But an unpublished report of 1997 by Edwin Rose1 notes that an object resembling a cross base (presumably a pedestal) complete with mortise hole had been dug up in the back garden of No.18 at some previous time. Curiously, each face of this "stone block" was "carved with crocketted gables" which suggested rather "the upper part of an ornate cross", or possibly a gable cross or decorated pinnacle of some kind. If it was from an elaborate wayside or 'village' cross, the nearby Green itself seems like a prime location; the Peddar's Way Roman road runs beside it, and it was quite possibly the site of a medieval fairstead. The presence of a chaplain here in 1337 named Henry atte Cros lends a little weight to its existence.2

 

1. Kindly supplied by Norfolk County Council, Historic Environment Record.

2. Nat Arch, Kew: C 143/240/17

     

Castle Rising 

(Complete but restored cross)
 

Date of visit: 15/8/18.

The cross just west of the church on Market Green (TF6654224860) is unlike any other in Norfolk. Not unreasonably, it's known as a market cross, but some have likened it more to the medieval Calvary crosses of Brittany. A charter for a market at Castle Rising was granted in 1150, but parts of the cross only date back to the 15th century. It's thought that the top third may be of that date, while everything below might be the result of Victorian restorations, such as that by Colonel Fulke Greville Howard in 1837.1 The shaft and capital were blown down in a storm in 1967, and repaired in 1974.

 

Cozens-Hardy had a photo of a section of carved stone depicting the Crucifixion which he thought was probably the head of a cross (though not necessarily this one), which was housed in the church in the 1930s, but this has since disappeared. The head currently on the Rising cross is a modern replacement.

 

According to Historic England, the cross "is built of Barnack stone in three stages, raised upon a polygonal flight of five steps measuring c.6m across at the base." Then comes an octagonal plinth surrounded by columns, with "a low, square base upon which stands a square pedestal, c.1.6m high" on top. The third - and possibly original - stage "is a slender, tapering shaft, octagonal in section, with architectural moulding at the base and the cross at the head. The overall height is c.7m."

 

A map of 'Rising Chace' dating from 15882 shows the cross in the same position as it is now, but depicts it on a more tapered stepped base, and without the 'octagonal plinth' section - although this may just be a stylised representation.

 

1. H.L. Bradfer-Lawrence: 'Castle Rising' (1932), p.60.

2. NRO: BL 71

     

Caston 

(Remains of cross)
 

Date of visit: 31/7/17.

Only the socket stone and a strange two-tiered circular base remain of the cross on The Green at Caston, opposite the Red Lion pub (TL9589597585.) The shaft was apparently removed in the 1870s when it was in a dangerous condition, and the mortise hole has been filled with a dome of cement. Indeed, even in the 1970s the remainder was in a poor state and held together with iron straps. The whole thing seems to be 15th century, with some later additions and repair work, and is thought to have been on one of the old pilgrimage routes to Walsingham. The socket stone is 77cm square and 38cm high, and heavily decorated with arcading. The lower part of the base is 81cm high, and 1.8m in diameter at ground level, while the upper is 47cm high, and 1.16m in diameter, giving an overall height of about 1.7m. Like Aylmerton, Caston's cross also features elsewhere on this website, because of a legendary secret tunnel, and a treasure hidden beneath it.

     

Chedgrave 

(Documented record of cross)
 

In 1533, Richard Smythe of Loddon left instructions in his will to set up a cross "at the parting of the way from Langley church to Chedgrave church".1 This suggests to me a possible location at TM36189976, where Hillside parts from Langley Road, going south from Langley church.

 

1. NRO: NCC will register Puntyng 144

     

Clenchwarton 

(Remains of cross)
 

Date of visit: 15/8/18.

A 14th century limestone pedestal with a short length of shaft stands in the middle of the gravel path near the south porch to St. Margaret's church (TF5893720200.) The socket stone is 66cm square and 33cm high, complete with stop-angles. The shaft is 70cm high, octagonal in section and slightly tapering, and 21cm square at the bottom where it fits into the mortise hole. Curiously, just over half way up a significant groove has been worn across three sides, as if a tough rope has sawed back and forth across it. Overall the cross measures 1.06m high.

     

Clenchwarton 

(Site of cross)
  'Cross (remains of)' is marked as an antiquity on OS maps from the early 1900s to the late 1960s, at TF6031620569, but no remains could be found in 1964. This is at the junction of Ferry Road with Clockcase Lane and Jubilee Bank Road. The north end of the latter is now blocked-off, so there's no longer an actual crossroads, but this is where the parish boundaries of Clenchwarton, West Lynn and North Lynn used to meet.
     

Cley-next-the-Sea 

(Documented record of cross)
 

This entry refers to a wooden cross, which I have presumed was intended to stand in the churchyard of St. Margaret's (TG04854312.) In the 1503 will of Joan Thirlock, after requesting that she be buried next to her husband in the churchyard, and after bequeathing money to two church guilds, she says: "I will that mine executors do make a Cross of Tree betwixt this and the church, if so be they may get the ground of some good man to set the cross on, and there to have a resting stool for folks to sit on".1

 

1. NRO: ANW, will register, Fuller alias Roper, fo. 371

     

Cockley Cley 

(Site of cross)
 

There were at least three crosses marking the medieval boundaries of Cockley Cley, and all appear on a rather crude sketch map of the late 18th century, showing the extent of the manor.1 The remains of Langwade Cross, last seen in the early 1930s, have unfortunately vanished. Cozens-Hardy provides a photo of it (left), and the following description: "The pedestal is square with bevelled angles, probably once ornamented. The shaft appears once to have been octagonal, though square in the mortise hole. Only about a foot of the shaft survives." (Photo from 'Norfolk Archaeology' Vol.25, by courtesy of www.nnas.info.) It seems to have disappeared by 1950, although it was also searched for without success in 1973. It used to stand at TF77080310, at the meeting of Swaffham Road, Watermill Lane, and a road - now a track - that ran north to Shingham. This crossroads was also the meeting point of Cockley Cley and Caldecote parish boundaries. Blomefield describes it thus: "Langwade-Cross, the pedestal of which is still remaining, by the road that leads over the long wade or passage over the river, adjoining to the bounds of Godertton [Gooderstone], which wade gave name to the Langwades [a local manorial family], and to the cross also".2 A 13th century leper house used to stand close by the cross.

 

1. NRO: MC 2667/21

2. Blomefield: Vol.6 (1807), p.39.

     

Cockley Cley 

(Documented record of cross)
  The second, unnamed, cross appears on the 18th century map of the manor, just where the 1st edition OS 1" map records 'Cross', at TF79130269. This is at a sharp turn of the Cockley Cley/Gooderstone parish boundary, in the eastern angle of a crossroads near the former Cricketers' Inn. The junction is formed by the meeting of the road from Cockley Cley to Ickburgh, and the road from Gooderstone (possibly Roman in origin), and its continuation eastward as an embanked trackway. No trace or knowledge of the cross was found when a field investigator went searching for it in 1977.
     

Cockley Cley 

(Documented record of cross)
  The third cross seems to be in the north-east of the parish, and is named Bardolph Cross on the map. If I've interpreted the location correctly, it may have stood at TF83000637, where the boundaries of Cockley Cley, Swaffham and North Pickenham meet. This is a little east of the A1065 Brandon Road, and just south of a lost road marked in the 1700s as 'Norwich Way'. Only a part of the latter has survived, as a long straight track running between Cley Road and Watton Road. The map shows Bardolph Cross as standing on a rather exaggerated earthen mound, which could possibly be a northern outlier of the barrow field mentioned in the next entry.
     

Cockley Cley 

(Site of cross)
  There used to be a group of Bronze Age burial mounds lying either side of the A1065 road about 1 miles south of Swaffham. These are virtually all gone now, although one is still marked on OS maps at TF82800562, and is said to be a bowl barrow about 1.2m high. Though not on a boundary, one of these mounds was the site of the court of South Greenhoe Hundred, and on or near it, Tom Martin in about 1740 said there was "ye pedestall of a cross." The surviving mound is about 800m SSW of the site of Bardolph Cross.
     

Cockley Cley

(Documented record of crosses)
 

Blomefield1 quotes the 1506 will of Robert Smyth or Smythe of Cley: "I will have all the Church of St. Peter pathed at my Cost, with the Stone I have bought; except where I shall be buried, for there I will have a Marble-stone, like my Fathers; I will have my Executors set a Stone-Cross, upon the Hill between Lyn, and Cley, and another in the Ling, at South Pickenham-Gate".2 'Lyn[n]' is the old name for King's Lynn, which is nearly 14 miles away from Cley, so the location for the first cross "upon the Hill between Lyn and Cley" is of no help at all. Presumably it must have been a locally-known hill, and it must have been close to Cley, but otherwise there is no clue. The location of the second cross is also unknown, but I would suggest that it was, perhaps, on the eastward road to South Pickenham, in Cley Warren.

 

1. Blomefield: Vol.6 (1807), p.44.

2. NRO: NCC will register Ryxe 368

     

Colby 

(Remains of cross)
 

Date of visit: 28/6/19.

Obviously not in its original position, the remains of a cross sit in St. Giles' churchyard, in the angle between the tower and the south porch (TG2202131118.) The socket stone is 70cm square, 43cm high, with chamfered corners making the top surface octagonal. The remaining shaft is 30cm x 24cm at the bottom, with an originally octagonal section now badly weathered, rising to 79cm.

 

A plaque inset on the south-west side says: "This remnant of the ancient churchyard cross was restored AD 1900. In memoriam R.H.J. Gurney". (Gurney was apparently a landowner in Colby.) When I first visited this cross in May 2018 (but failed to take any measurements), the crumbling 20th century plinth was still visible. On my return in 2019 I found that it had undergone another restoration, with the plinth now encased in new brickwork 1.25m x 1.22m and 67cm high, with a capping of 3cm thick concrete slabs 1.34m square.

     

Colby 

(Site of cross)
 

Date of visit: 28/6/19.

Banningham used to be its own parish; now it is a hamlet within Colby. The village sign stands at TG2129828977, and upon it is an inscription stating this to be the site of the 'Sandford Preaching Cross', named as such on a 1707 map displayed on a wall of the local pub, the Crown. Nowadays, this is a three-ways where a lane to Banningham meets the B1145. On the 1824 enclosure map, these are named Church Lane and Walsham Lane. So far I've been unable to find out anything more about this cross, including the meaning of the 'Sandford' part of its name. There is certainly no nearby stream crossing to which it might apply, nor any reference in Sandred's examination of South Erpingham Hundred's place-names.

     

Colkirk 

(Possible remains of cross)
 

A 2006 report (NHER No.42672) stated that a possible section of a medieval cross had been found in the garden of a house that used to be The Star inn (TF91942623.) It was described as octagonal stonework, "resembling a cross base".1 A short pillar inscribed with the date 1667 and a stone ball had been fitted to it, though clearly the parts didn't belong together. Built around 1700, the house is on the site of another at least a century older. It's thought that the base and other parts might have been brought from elsewhere by a previous owner between the 1930s and 1960s.

 

1. Unpublished building report by Edwin Rose (kindly supplied by Norfolk County Council, Historic Environment Record.)

     

Coltishall 

(Documented record of cross)
 

Sandred1 gives two 13th century field-name references to a stone cross at Great Hautbois in this parish. From the Register of the Abbey of St. Benet of Holme of c.1240 comes 'Crux petrina', while the Coxford Priory Cartulary covering the 13th-15th centuries gives 'ad crucem petrinam' for 1258.2 (Latin 'petrinus' = 'of stone'.)

 

1. Karl Inge Sandred: 'The Place-Names of Norfolk' (English Place-Name Society, 2002), Part 3, p.83.

2. NRO: DN/SUN/8

     

Congham 

(Remains of cross - now lost)
  Cozens-Hardy saw the pedestal of a cross, complete with mortise hole, in the grounds of Congham Hall (TF71092286) in the 1930s. According to what he was told, it was formerly in All Saints churchyard at Roydon near King's Lynn (TF69912365), then moved to North Wootton before ending up at Congham. It was apparently moved by the Rev. Henry Suckling, who was curate at Roydon 1872-81, then rector at Wootton 1881-1907. There was no trace of the cross in Congham Hall grounds in 1978, and the owner of ten years knew nothing about it. Cozens-Hardy had the notion that this might have been the same cross that once stood at Grimston, but gave no evidence for it.
     

Cringleford 

(Documented record of cross)
 

From Blomefield: "In 1291, Petronel, widow of Peter at Cringleford Cross, settled one acre and an half on Petronel her niece, to pay for ever 4d. per annum to have 4 masses said yearly for her soul, in this church, every Christmas day".1 In 1898, restoration work at St. Peter's church revealed fragments of carved interlace set in the fabric which were conjectured at the time might be from a Celtic cross, maybe even the Cringleford Cross mentioned in the above will. Others think they were more likely to have come from a coffin lid (which looks probable to me from the pictures).2 These have now been set visibly in the walls within the church.

 

1. Blomefield: Vol.5 (1806), p.39.

2. Rev. T.S. Cogswell: 'On some Ancient Stone Fragments found in Cringleford Church', in 'Norfolk Archaeology' Vol.14 (1901), p.99-102.

     

Crostwick

 

(Site of cross)

  Like Crostwight in the parish of Honing, the name 'Crostwick' is a mixture of Old Norse and English, and means 'clearing by or with a cross'. Appearing in Domesday Book as 'Crostueit', this tells us that a late Saxon cross must have stood here somewhere, but no other evidence has ever been found.
     

Croxton (near Thetford) 

(Remains of cross)
 

Date of visit: 18/7/18.

Cozens-Hardy quotes a note by Blomefield of a visit by him to All Saints church at Croxton in 1726: "Pedestal of a cross south side yard." When Cozens-Hardy went there himself, he found the socket stone of a cross on the south side of the church, between the porch and the priest's door (TL8736186610.) Although it was a standard pedestal with stop-angles, the mortise hole had been hollowed out to make it look like a font. In addition, there was a small hole in each side, and a drainage hole in the bottom. According to the 'Croxton Vicarage Book', "During the Great War a square of stone containing a basin was removed from the garden at Chapel Farm and placed outside the chancel door." Local opinion decided that it was a late Saxon or early Norman font.1

 

However, when I visited the churchyard, it was clear that both Blomefield and Cozens-Hardy were correct. The whole thing was totally swamped by the ivy that was growing out of the 'basin', but I managed to clear enough from one side to determine that it is indeed a standard socket stone 77cm square and 40cm high, with stop-angles and chamfered corners.. As has happened in several locations, the mortise hole has been carved out to create a makeshift 'font'.

 

1. R.D. Clover: 'Tale of an Area - A Village Study & History' (1975). (No page numbers; originally appeared in the 'Eastern Daily Press' 25/5/1974.)

     

Dersingham 

(Remains of cross)
 

Date of visit: 17/8/18.

The socket stone and detached capital of a cross, possibly 14th century, can be found at a bend in the path, about 30m south of the south wall, towards the east end of St. Nicholas' church (TF6932930349.) The embedded pedestal measures 70cm x 83cm, with 27cm above ground. It's very worn, with rounded edges and no trace left of any stop-angles. Mortared on top of it is the capital of a cross shaft with gabled moulding on each side, 46cm square and 64cm high. There are multiple finger-sized holes bored in one face of it, perhaps a remnant of the old custom of fixing flowers and boughs of yew or willow to the cross on Palm Sunday. On top is the broken stub of a cross-piece, a rare survival.

 

According to T.H. Bryant's 'Churches of Norfolk: Hundreds of Freebridge Lynn and Grimshoe' "fragments of an old cross" (and a holy water stoup) were found in the churchyard in 1906, which surely must be these. Other parts apparently "remained in the base of a house." This seems likely to be connected to notes that Dersingham historian Elizabeth Fiddick has collected concerning a shaft and "the arm of a cross" that were  found in the foundations of some cottages in Manor Road (530m SW of the church) when they were being rebuilt, possibly in connection with the site of a lost chapel of St. Andrew.1

 

Ordnance Survey records (NHER No.1581) say that a previous local vicar passed on the 'legend' that the cross had come from a spot about 600m away to the south-east, at Doddshill. While a school is on the site today, it was previously open fields; but it seems most likely that this was always a churchyard cross.

 

However, just less than three-quarters of a mile east of Doddshill, Ling House Road is crossed by a very old track at a spot named on Bryant's 1826 map as 'High Cross'. The track itself is named in a 13th century deed as 'Ykenildestrethe' and 'Ikelinge Street', leading some to believe it to have been part of the allegedly-prehistoric (but probably much later) Icknield Way. This is one of only four crossroads in Norfolk that I have found named 'High Cross', and two of those (at Little Dunham and North Elmham) were definitely the site of a medieval cross. But at Dersingham, the name is shown on no maps other than Bryant's, and unlike at Bintree's 'High Cross', the crossroads is on rising ground and there is no corroborating evidence from the tithe award. I cannot therefore put it forward as a possible cross site, tempting though it might be.

 

1. www.dersinghamhistory.info/gelham manor

     

Didlington 

(Remains of cross)
 

Date of visit: 3/9/18.

The object in the south-east part of St. Michael's churchyard bears little resemblance to any part of a cross nowadays (TL7791396936.) It appears as 'Stone Cross' on a few OS maps of the early 20th century, but none before or since. It's accepted as a 'medieval cross base', but is in such poor condition that it couldn't be scheduled as a monument. Only the lower half of the socket stone remains, with the octagonal upper section and mortise hole now lost. It measures about 66cm x 70cm, with only 10cm visible above ground.

     

Diss 

(Documented record of crosses)
 

Two crosses used to stand on the southern edge of the town of Diss. The first is found among deeds describing "eight enclosures of arable land and meadow containing 14 acres called the Pound Pieces, near footpath from Diss Common to Cockstreet and near the River Waveney." One of these was a plot of half an acre "lying at the Moore opposite St. Appolyns Crosse".1 The land was "surrendered by Edmund Anour to Robert Chyttyng in 1531", and by 1812 it had passed to a solicitor named Meadows Taylor, who still held it at the time of the tithe award.

 

From the tithe map of 1838 it can be seen that the 'Pound Pieces' were roughly where the Morrisons supermarket is today, placing the cross almost certainly at about TM11727963, a space currently occupied by the shops and offices of Navire House. This is now the junction of Victoria Road, Mere Street and Park Road, but once it was a broad triangular plain at the meeting of Freshgate, Meere Street, and the aforementioned footpath to Cockstreet. In this space the 1637 'Map of the Manor of Diss' shows a square construction of some kind, which I suspect to have been the surviving base of the cross.2

 

'Appolyn' is a 16th century rendering of the name Apollonia, a third century martyr of Alexandria, and probably influenced by the French version, Appoline. There are no churches in Norfolk (or indeed in England) dedicated to that saint, but a number possess images of her on rood screens and in stained glass.

 

Situated as it was at the limits of the town, just at the edge of Diss Moor or Common, it may have been a boundary cross. Possibly the same was true of the second cross, which appears without a name on the 1637 map, just as the word 'crosse'. This would have stood at about TM11227962, where four roads meet. Again this used to be a broad plain, formed by the convergence of the footpath from Diss Moor (now Park Road), Martins Lane (Croft Lane), Cockstreete (Denmark Street), and from the west, the aptly-named Cockstreet-crosse (now Stanley Road.) There might also have been some connection of this cross to the nearby Fair Green (once Cock Streete Greene), where an annual fair was granted in 1185, and continued into the 20th century.

 

1. NRO: MC 257/3, 682X9

2. NRO: MC 2382/1

     

Diss 

(Possible cross site)
 

In 1507, John Awncell of Shimpling gave a legacy "to repair the way leading from Walcot Cross to Diss market".1 Nicola Whyte accepts this as an actual freestanding cross rather than a named crossroads, and thinks that 'Walcot Cross' suggests a personal name.2 That may be so, but Walcote was also one of the medieval manors of Diss, and Walcot Green still exists as a scattered hamlet on the way from Diss to Shimpling. My own feeling is that, if it was indeed a cross, then it may have stood about 500m north of the market, where Walcot Road meets Heywood Road.

 

1. Blomefield: Vol.1 (1805), p.156.

2. Nicola Whyte: 'Norfolk Wayside Crosses: Biographies of Landscape and Place' in 'Art, Faith and Place in East Anglia' (ed. Heslop, Mellings & Thfner; Boydell Press, 2012), p.170.

     

Docking 

(Documented record of crosses)
 

Going north-west out of Docking along Ringstead Road, you come to a crossroads, and an area still marked on maps as Summerfield. Within Church Hill Plantation is the site - with no remaining trace - of a deserted medieval settlement known as Summerfield or Southmere (TF74783845.) The church of All Saints here was in ruins by 1554, and the area badly depopulated. The 'Dragge' (field book, or land survey) of 'Dry Docking' in 15931 records a cross here, as well as another further to the north. I suspect that the latter cross was on the parish boundary and crossroads at Thornham Corner, at TF74433947.

 

1. NRO: NRS 26992, 180X5

     

Docking 

(Doubtful cross site)
 

On rising ground east of the village is East Wood, just to the east of which multiple stray finds were recorded from the nearby fields in the 1970s, ranging from Mesolithic flints to 17th century pottery sherds. A 1979 note by Edwin Rose says that "Major Hare [the local landowner] claims there was once a cross here marking the parish boundary".1 However, the boundary is about 800m away, there is no evidence of any settlement or tracks in this area, and no actual record of any cross here.

 

1. Norfolk Archaeological Index Card 13207 (kindly supplied by Norfolk County Council, Historic Environment Record.)

     

Docking 

(Doubtful cross site)
 

The name 'St. Catherine's Cross' is marked on both old and current OS maps part way along Ringstead Road, before the Summerfield crossroads is reached (TF75483748.) It seems to refer not to any point on the road, but to an area just west of it where two detached houses sit. The line of the old West Norfolk Junction Railway, closed in 1953, runs along its northern side. This site used to be in the old parish of Summerfield, but the 1845 tithe award and map1 show nothing here but fields. In the absence of any documentary evidence, all we have is Cozens-Hardy's note that, in 1927, the rector of Docking enquired about the name at the Manor House off Well Street. He was apparently told that "there was a tradition of a stone cross having once stood there, near the site of some new cottages, but that there were no remains existing to his knowledge."

 

It has been speculated locally2 that the name may derive from Catherine Henley (ne Hare), owner of the Docking estate from 1743 to 1778. According to Blomefield, "Mrs. Henley found the lands here ill cultivated, destitute of wood, and spring water, and proverbially called Dry Docking. By her constantly residing in, and by a benevolent and sensible attention to the various interests and wants of the place, both have been consulted and provided for".3 She caused to be planted over 140 acres of woodland, and sank five wells for the use of the village and her tenants, so it's possible that she could have been affectionately remembered as 'Saint' Catherine by the inhabitants. Any connection to a cross or that named location is unknown.

 

1. Nat Arch, Kew: IR 29/26/504

2. Information gratefully received from the Docking Heritage Group, 20/1/2020.

3. Blomefield: Vol.10 (1809), p.364.

     

Docking 

(Documented record of cross)
 

In 1292, there was a conveyance of lands from Geoffrey Palmer of Sedgeford to Adam Coper of Bawdeswell. These "messuage and lands" were in Sedgeford, along with two acres "at the cross of Docking".1 Whether this refers to one of the crosses in Summerfield parish - which I think unlikely - or to another cross altogether, we'll probably never know.

 

1. NRO: DCN 44/96/48

     

Downham Market 

(Remains of cross)
 

Date of visit: 15/8/18.

There is a priest's door on the south side of the chancel at St. Edmund's church, at the eastern end (TF6129503298.) Above it, out of reach for measurement, the topmost section or head of an octagonal cross shaft is set into the exterior face of the wall. The cross arms are missing, but a fine carved representation of the Crucifixion has survived. A sketch of this is to be found in Dawson Turner's 1841 edition of Blomefield, where it is described as "section of a cross there in churchyard 3 ft by one."

     

Downham Market 

(Remains of cross)
 

Date of visit: 15/8/18.

Old OS maps and the 1841 tithe map1 show 'Stone Cross' at TF6243202784, where the parish boundaries of Bexwell and Ryston used to meet. A track called Stone Cross Lane - Stump Cross Lane on the 1886 OS map - runs to it from the south, which some have claimed was part of a route from Downham to the 12th century abbey at West Dereham. All that remains of the ancient cross that stood here is the socket stone 62cm x 65cm square and 38cm high. It's now very weathered and split, but the stop-angles are still visible. It can be found at the end of a short footpath just off the west side of the A10 road, and is a part of what is now known as the Stonecross War Memorial. Erected in 1920 to commemorate two local men killed in the First World War, the socket stone now sits on a two-tier concrete base, with a tall concrete cross cemented into the mortise hole. The site was very neglected and overgrown until 2011, when two schoolchildren obtained funding to clean it up and improve access.2

 

1. NRO: HARE 6846/1-2

2. www.learnaboutwarmemorials.org/stonecross

     

Downham West 

(Possible remains of cross)
  According to Blomefield there was a hermitage here in the 12th century, at the western end of Downham bridge. Although the present bridge is shown in the same position on Faden's map of 1797, some have suggested that both bridge and hermitage were originally slightly further north, near Hermitage Hall (TF59840334.) Among other odd medieval items found in the grounds around the Hall was either a font, or a cross pedestal with stop-angles that had been hollowed out for use as a font. The Hall - actually part of Bridge Farm - became a museum called Collector's World, and the object was held there. Where it is now I don't know, since the museum closed down several years ago.
     

Drayton 

(Remains of cross)
 

Date of visit: 8/5/18.

Drayton Cross stands on the village green, at the junction of School Road and Drayton High Road (TG1804613581.) Only the socket stone and remaining length of shaft are 14th century; the two-tiered base they rest on dates from a restoration of 1873. In his will of 1526, one Walter Mego requested that "the Stone Cross at Drayton Town End be new repaired at my cost and charges and the Crucifix painted and covered with lead about".1 Blomefield records that "On the pedestal of the cross in this town, is an inscription in French, now through time almost quite defaced, setting forth a pardon to all who would pray for the souls of William de Bellomonte and Joan his wife".2 Apparently Tom Martin in 1735 made a sketch of this cross, showing the inscription actually running up the shaft. There used to be a plaque on each side of the pedestal giving an English translation of it, but now only two are left.

 

Of the 19th century base, the lower step is 1.8m square and 7cm high, while the second step is 1.3m square and 15cm high. The pedestal is 79cm square and 45cm high, with chamfered corners and stop-angles. 1.92m of the shaft survives, decorated vertically with 'roll and fillet' moulding, 34cm square at the base, and becoming octagonal. At some point the shaft was broken 54cm up, then repaired with mortar. Overall, it stands 2.65m high.

 

1. NRO: NCC will register Haywarde 78

2. Blomefield: Vol.10 (1809), p.413.

     

Dunton 

(Remains of cross)
 

Date of visit: 8/7/19.

A few metres in from the east gate to All Saints churchyard at Toftrees is a 15th century pedestal with a stub of shaft remaining in it (TF8982227575.) The socket stone is 78cm square with stop-angles, with 25cm showing above ground. The shaft is 28cm square at the bottom, becoming octagonal, and slightly tapering to 26cm across at the top, with a height of 50cm. Judging by the overly-large socket, the shaft - which is currently loose and moveable - must have been fixed in place with mortar rather than molten lead. A circular mortise hole on top is 12.5cm in diameter and 8cm deep, showing where the next section of shaft would have fitted.

 

Remarkably, that next section lies half-buried against the west face of the pedestal. After exposing its edges more clearly, I found it to be 76cm long, 26cm across at the widest end, 24cm at the other. There used to be another detached section, but that had disappeared by 1974. Apparently when Cozens-Hardy saw it in the early 1930s, the pedestal and upright shaft were painted red, for some reason.

 

A local man to whom I spoke during my visit pointed out some other stonework embedded beneath weeds against the churchyard wall, just inside the gate, which he thought might also belong to the cross. I had hoped that they might be parts of the plinth; however, they seem likely to be post-medieval in date, perhaps no more than kerb-stones from an 18th or 19th century grave.

     

Dunton 

(Documented record of cross)
 

In 1488, Edmund Scherman of Heydon granted to John Stalworthy of West Barsham various parcels of land in Dunton.1 According to the grant, one of these plots "iacet apud Dunton crosse" i.e. "lies by/near Dunton Cross". I've been unable to determine its location as yet, but I have no doubt from the context that this was a physical cross and not a meeting of ways.

 

1. NRO: BL/O/Y(j)1

   

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