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

  Norfolk Cross Survey: Contents

The Survey Parish by Parish: E - G

(Easton to Guestwick)

     

Easton 

(Possible remains of cross)
 

Date of visit: 25/6/18.

Just off the A47 west of Norwich, Church Lane, Dog Lane and Ringland Road meet to form a crossroads in the little parish of Easton. Set back on the north-west verge of that crossroads is a large ovoid mass of flints and cobbles roughly cemented together (TG1335411239.) Normally totally obscured by vegetation, I had to clear a large amount of ivy from it in order to get its dimensions. The whole thing is set upright on one edge, with about 90cm visible out of the ground. The overall size is 1.5m long by 22cm thick. Cozens-Hardy calls it "some ancient stonework", and thinks it to be the rough base or foundation on which a cross once stood, but which has been dragged over onto its side. The fact that the crossroads is named 'The Cross' on old OS maps seems to add to his supposition.

     

East Rudham 

(Doubtful remains of cross)
 

Date of visit: 21/8/19.

"Among the many objects of interest in East Rudham church the visitor should specially note a fourteenth century cross, now a roof finial, but believed to have been the village cross…"1 This ornate, floriated finial with open-mouthed demon or dragon heads below it can be seen on the gable of the south transept at St. Mary's (TF8275128264.) The church was already in a ruinous condition when the tower collapsed into the nave in the early 1870s, and the whole thing was largely rebuilt soon after, using existing medieval materials. In June 1873, photographs were received by the Norfolk & Norwich Archaeological Society, showing the cross "on which are holes where a crucifix has been fixed".2

 

I suspect that these were the same photographs shown in a 1901 paper by the rector of East and West Rudham, Rev. Hugh Astley.3 Although the alleged 'holes' are not visible, Astley noted that "the figure of the Saviour may still be traced on one face." Astley also stated that "It is evidently too large and massive for its present position...From the size and beauty of this cross it has been conjectured that it may really be the village cross, and mark Rudham as a station or halting-place for pilgrims on the way from Lynn to Our Lady of Walsingham."

 

The 'conjecture' of 1901 seems to have turned into fact by 1969, when a later rector of the Rudhams, Rev. Francis Ibbott, said that "mounted on the gable of the South Transept of the church is an elaborate cross known as the Walsingham Pilgrims Cross. This Cross formerly was mounted on a shaft and stood opposite the Church Gate, where the village pump now stands...it was the point where the Pilgrims assembled after staying at the Hospice [Coxford Priory], or having made the Station at St. Mary's Church. The Walsingham Cross was mounted on the Transept Gable at the restoration of the church in 1872; the shaft on which it was originally mounted being at that time in a 'State of much decay', so it was decided to use it on the church, the Cross itself being in a wonderful state of preservation".4

 

Although this seems to be based on local knowledge I find it very suspect, and I've been unable to confirm it from other sources. This is not the size or type of head piece one would expect to see on a freestanding cross in Norfolk. Indeed, I know of only one other cross in Britain even slightly similar in form, that being Merkland Cross near Kirtlebridge in Scotland. There, the head is smaller and far less ornate, each arm of the cross being in the shape of a fleur-de-lys. From its size, the Rudham cross would be more suited to the eastern end of the chancel roof, where a smaller and plainer diamond-shaped finial now sits. For me, the evidence that it was always a gable cross and never attached to a shaft comes from the photographs in Astley's paper of 1901. They show the cross as it was found at the rebuilding, already seated in a medieval decorated saddle stone, for affixing to the apex of a gable.

 

1. 'Eastern Counties Magazine, or Suffolk Note-Book', Vol.2, No.6 (Nov. 1901), p.205.

2. 'Norfolk Archaeology' Vol. 8 (1879), p.329.

3. Rev. H.J. Dukinfield Astley: 'Two Norfolk Villages' in the Journal of the British Archaeological Association (2nd Series, Vol.7, Part 2, 1901), pp.103-142.

4. Francis Ibbott: 'The Walsingham Way - A Reappraisal', found at www.walsinghamanglicanmedieval.org.uk

     

East Walton 

(Remains of cross)
  About 80m north of St. Mary's church can be found the ruins of the 11th or 12th century chapel or church of St. Andrew, on private land. Within the roofless shell of the chapel is a weathered cross pedestal with stop-angles, which Historic England says measures 66cm x 61cm, and 40cm high (TF7427916193.) The mortise hole is 35cm square. It probably used to stand somewhere in St. Andrew's churchyard, though it could equally have come originally from St. Mary's. (Photo by Adrian Pye, from Geograph.)
     

Edgefield 

(Documented record of cross)
 

From Blomefield: "There was formerly a cross in this parish, for Custancie Adam, relict of William, son of Ralf, priest of Eggefeld, who about the time of King John, or Henry III [in the 13th century] enfeoffed her son, Stephen, for half a mark of silver, in one piece of land lying in the field of Egefeld, abutting upon the way which led from the cross of Egefeld towards Bynham".1 The way to Binham is now called Hunworth Road, which leads north-west from the crossroads named both now, and on Bryant's 1826 map, Cross Green (TG09083428.) Although nothing now remains, this where Edgefield Cross almost certainly stood.

 

1. Blomefield: Vol.9 (1808), p.381.

     

Felmingham 

(Remains of cross)
 

Date of visit: 22/6/20.

Cozens-Hardy saw a sketch of this cross remnant dating to 1846 in Turner's edition of Blomefield's 'History', but failed to find it in St. Andrew's churchyard. He described it as "an octagonal pedestal with about 1 ft of shaft left." It is there, however, close to the wall on the south side of the tower (TG2512929256.) It looks to have been stored away from the elements for a long time, but is nevertheless in a poor state. Only one partial stop-angle remains, the socket stone broken apart, exposing the bottom of the shaft stub and the lead lining in its mortise hole. The surviving section of pedestal is 62cm square and 33cm high, while only 35cm remains of the shaft's length. The shaft itself is 26cm square within the socket, narrowing above to 22cm. Another chunk of pedestal, 42cm x 16cm x 18cm, lies nearby.

     

Feltwell 

(Remains of cross)
 

Date of visit: 3/9/18.

If it wasn't for the fact that old OS maps mark this as 'Cross (remains of), and that it seems to be accepted as such, I would have trouble in seeing this object as a medieval cross remnant. This is supposed to be a pedestal, but apart from its overall squareness, it's just a hollowed-out shapeless lump of stone. In the early 1900s, the OS 25" map showed a second piece of cross nearby, but this has long since disappeared. This was presumably the shaft, which a local man who died in 1887 remembered having seen in its original upright position. All that remains therefore is the top section of the pedestal, 64cm x 66cm, with two sides badly damaged, no trace of any carving, and any mortise hole has been chiselled away to make a roughly circular basin about 40cm across. The hollow I measured at about 20cm deep, and although the bottom is now filled with dirt, it apparently goes all the way through the base. The whole thing is only 20cm high, but it's sunken into a brick and stone plinth erected to hold it in 1971.

 

According to a plaque on the side, "It is believed that this stone was the base of the settlement cross which stood on this site for many centuries and which was probably destroyed during the Civil War." The plaque also mentions the legend that it was a plague stone, which can be found elsewhere on this site.

 

It stands at TL7182290971, on a little grassy island on Cross Hill, at the junction of Lodge Road, Oak Street, and Old Methwold Road.

     

Field Dalling 

(Remains of cross)
 

Date of visit: 2/9/18.

The 2.6m high cross in St. Andrew's churchyard was, until recent years, right beside the tarmac path from the east gate. Now it has been moved back behind the wire fence that cordons off much of the very overgrown graveyard (TG0067839019.) The pedestal and shaft in fact stand on another pedestal which is sunk into the soil. The lower stone is 66cm square and 43cm out of the ground, with chamfered corners and stop-angles. Mortared onto it is a slightly narrower socket stone, 55cm square and 62cm high, again with stop-angles, and a moulded cornice on top. From this rises a Barnack limestone shaft, broken off at a height of 1.55m. This shaft is 32cm square at the bottom, then chamfered to become octagonal and slightly tapering.

 

On the 18081 and 18122 enclosure maps, a cross is shown as standing in the centre of the three-ways junction just south-east of the church, at the meeting of Holt Road with Langham Road (TG0071238993.)A reasonable conclusion is that the upper pedestal and shaft are from the cross that stood at the three-ways, grafted onto the remaining socket stone of an original churchyard cross.

 

1. NRO: MS 3131, 3D3

2. NRO: PD 619/55

     

Fincham 

(Remains of cross)
 

Date of visit: 15/8/18.

Another cross which has been moved more than once is currently to be found in the churchyard close to the war memorial, south of St. Martin's church (TF6881506433.) The socket stone is quite well-preserved - although two of the four chamfered stop-angles have broken off at the corners - and measures 66cm square by 60cm high. The tapering shaft remains square all the way up to its current height of 1.25m, and is 30cm square at the base, with chamfered stops a little way up at each corner. The cross stands on a modern three-stepped base of stone slabs and blocks.

 

On the south face of the pedestal is inscribed the following: "This stone believed to be portion of cross from St. Michael's churchyard. Church demolished 1745. Placed here Feast of St. Michael 1904." Actually, before it was set in its current location, it stood on a brick base out in the fields at TF68580588, placed there by the Rev. Robert Forby sometime between 1801 and 1825, so that he could see it from the south-facing windows of the old rectory. When it was moved to St. Martin's the brick base was left behind, but destroyed by 1978.

 

It's possible that it may have at one time been at the site of St. Michael's church (beside the High Street, at TF68570635.) But it's believed to be the same cross shown on the 1636 map that accompanies the 'Surveye or Field Booke of the towne of Fincham',1 which places it at TF68230632, at the western edge of the village, where Lynn Road meets Downham Road.

 

I also find this in the will of William Campling or Complyn in 1560,2 quoted in Blyth3: "I gyve and bequeathe to the reparacion of the high waie fyve shillings, that is for to bye callow [=loose soil or gravel] and laie it by the dykes between beldames bridge and the crosse, to be bestowed the next somer after my departynge." Going by the 1839 tithe map,4 I believe Beldame's Bridge was at TF6812206145 on Downham Road. This is only c.200m south-west of the cross site, so I think it is referring to the same wayside cross.

 

1. NRO: HARE 845

2. NRO: ANF will register Liber 20 (Postyll) fo. 227

3. Rev. William Blyth: 'Historical Notices and Records of the village and parish of Fincham' (1863), p.88.

4. NRO: PD 351/14

     

Forncett 

(Possible cross sites)
 

In a 'Series of Conveyances Relating to a Piece of the Demesne of Forncett Manor', in one such transaction in 1497, "The lady through her steward Stephen Denne of Forncet and his son Robert, [gave] six acres of the manor lying together on one piece in a field of the furlong, Broomfield, called Aldcrosse in Forncett..." The same field of Aldcrosse  features in a conveyance of 1561.1 A manorial survey of 15652 shows that it was also written as 'Alcrosse', and was centred at TM165952, in Forncett St. Mary. The old boundary with Tacolneston used to run along its north-western edge, and it was very close to a crossroads that has long since vanished. 'Nether Alcrosse' was another nearby field.

 

The same survey reveals a field called 'Swanes Cross' at Forncett St. Peter. It lay at TM15569314, on the left side of Stickfer Lane, between two three-ways.

 

Study of the enclosure and tithe maps of these two areas has unfortunately not revealed any further evidence as to whether these were actual crosses or merely named junctions.

 

1. Frances G. Davenport: "The Economic Development of a Norfolk Manor 1086—1565" Cambridge University Press, 1906), Appendix XI, p.lxxv-lxxvi.

2. Cambridge University Library: GBR/0012/MS Add.5908-5928

     

Foulden 

(Remains of cross)
 

Date of visit: 27/9/18.

Here is a 75cm square pedestal, 44cm high with bevelled stop-angles, and a 64cm high octagonal shaft, 30cm square at the bottom. A depression in the top of the shaft is what remains of the mortise hole for the next section. At present it sits beside the front door of Cross Cottage, at the junction of White Hart Street and Tallon Street (TL7685699503.) Originally it stood in the road just a few metres away, as shown on the 1st edition OS 6" map, and on the 1838 tithe map, where it is marked as 'Ancient Cross'.

     

Foulsham 

(Documented record of cross)
 

In 1539 the once mighty priory at Little Walsingham became a victim of the Dissolution of the monasteries. The priory house itself was granted (or sold) by Henry VIII to Thomas Sidney, who had been the last Master of the 'spital' (hospital) or lazar house there. According to the contemporary 'Originalia Rolls', the king also granted Sidney "all those two closes of our land called Wolpott Ashe Close and the great Dewlying Cross with the appurtence on Folesham and Woodnorton in our said County of Norfolk".1

 

The Rev. L.E. Whatmore interpreted this passage as meaning that Walsingham "once owned a large cross in the parish of Woodnorton in this area".2 I think, however, that this cross with the unusual name is more likely to have been situated in neighbouring Foulsham. One of the three medieval manors of Foulsham was Walsingham Priory Manor, which in 1550 was given by Edward VI to the Bishop of Norwich. By 1565 the manor is recorded in the bailiff's accounts as 'Duling Cross'.3 Also documented later as 'Dulingresse' and 'Dewling Cross', the name of the manor seems to have finally settled as 'Dulencross', and has remained so.

 

Although the historian of Foulsham, Thomas Quarles, said that the origin of the manor's name "cannot be satisfactorily traced", he speculated on the name of a former abbey near Leek in Staffordshire called "Diewlencrease, alias Delacresse. Could the name of the monastery, as well as that of the manor, be a corruption of the French words, 'Dieu l'engraisse'?"4 In fact the abbey's name was properly Dieulacres, allegedly from the Norman French 'Dieu l’encres' ('may God prosper it.') While there is certainly a similarity with some of the versions of the spelling at Foulsham, there otherwise seems no connection between the two places.

 

Quarles doesn't mention 'Dewlying Cross' at all in his history of the parish. He does however mention that the 1550 grant of the manor by Edward VI came with "a close called Little Divillings, or Dallings, and Dove-House close".5 By the 18th century, those lands "were then still called Great and Little Dullins".6 It may be that this is a more likely origin for the name of both manor and cross.

 

In a list of place-names found in "old writings" he also records "Dulencross Meadow - by Skitfield".7 Skitfield is the name of a farm that used to exist at TG03952708, on the south side of what is currently Skitfield Road, north of Foulsham village, and actually a few hundred metres into Guestwick parish. If this is any clue to the site of the cross, perhaps this area was once a part of Foulsham, or perhaps it stood on the boundary, which ran for a way along an old lane that branched off Guestwick Road and headed northwards towards Skitfield?

 

1. Nat Arch, Kew: PRO 31/8/7

2. Rev. Leonard E. Whatmore: 'Highway to Walsingham' (The Pilgrim Bureau, 1973), p.72-3.

3. NRO: DN/HAR 3/2

4. Rev. Thomas Quarles: The History & Antiquities of Foulsham' (Joseph Cundall, 1842), p.136.

5. Ibid, p.20.

6. Ibid, p.21.

7. Ibid, p.136.

     

Fransham 

(Remains of cross)
 

Date of visit: 18/8/18.

Only a moss-covered socket stone here, outside the priest's door on the south side of St. Mary's church in Little Fransham (TF9021712281.) 68cm square and 45cm high with stop-angles, it has a 38cm x 28cm mortise hole that's 17cm deep. In Norwich Castle Museum there is an 1843 drawing by F.C. Lukis showing the socket stone in the same condition as it is now.

     

Fulmodeston 

(Documented record of cross)
 

Barney is now a small village in Fulmodeston parish, along with Croxton and Clipstone. Once they were all separate parishes. Binham Priory held a manor of 410 acres in Barney, and in the 12th century Ralph Tregoz (or Tresgoz) and his wife confirmed the gift of the moiety (half, or joint tenancy): "This moiety was from the right corner of the garden of the court to the [deer] park, so to Crokeston bounds, and from the cross before the court gate, to the bounds of Swaneton".1 (Crokeston = Croxton; Swaneton = Swanton Novers.) It's possible that the Tregoz 'court' might be the medieval moat complex thought to be a manorial site at TF99753244, just east of Old Hall Farm. And it may be that Barney Hills Covert is what remains of the deer park, just to the south-east of the moats. But these are just suppositions, and I have no idea where the cross may have stood.

 

1. Blomefield: Vol.9 (1808), p.213.

     

Gayton 

(Site of cross)
 

A little west of the parish church is a T-junction where Lime Kiln Road - once known locally as Cross Lane - meets the B1145 Lynn Road. According to an 18th century map by an unknown surveyor, it was then a five-ways.1 At that time Lime Kiln Road was called Mill Way, and continued south to meet Back Street, while another road headed eastwards. On the map, the word 'Cross' along with a cross pattée symbol is shown in the western angle of this junction, at about TF72871929 (probably just within the grounds of what is now Gayton Primary School.) By the 19th century only the socket stone seems to have survived, although a description speaks of "the upper of the two plinths, of which the relic consisted..." So it may have been both a pedestal and a large block as part of a base.

 

At some point it was removed from the crossroads and taken to the church to support the font. In 1850 it was moved again, to serve as a mounting block in the yard of the nearby Crown Inn. The mortise hole had been previously sealed with lead, but three men apparently opened it up again in a vain search for "papers or writings" they thought might be hidden within. In 1878 it ended up on the lawn of Bridge House in Winch Road, the home of local doctor Philip Candler Shepheard. Shepheard also owned Abbot's Hall just north of Aylsham, and when he moved back there in 1884, he took the surviving part(s) of the cross with him.2 Its whereabouts are now unknown, but this object also appears elsewhere on this site because of a superstition attached to it being moved.

 

1. NRO: BL 14/90

2. William A. Cutting: 'Gleanings about Gayton (Norfolk) in the olden time' (Agas Goose, 1889), p.125-7.

     

Gayton 

(Site of cross)
 

The Rev. William Aubrey Cutting wrote in his history of this parish that "A corner near the workhouse, where the Flitcham Road is now crossed by one public to the west, but private to the east (but no such crossways at the time of the Award), is called Tid Cross. It is not known why".1 This crossways can be found north-east of the village, and is formed by the meeting of Eastgate Drove (the old Flitcham Road, which some consider to have been part of the Icknield Way), the road to Ashwicken, and a track running east to Grimston Heath. The 1813 enclosure award and map may not show such a crossroads, but Faden's map of 1797 does, as does the 1839 tithe map, where field 297 just east of this spot is called 'Tid Cross Close'.2

 

I had recorded this as no more than a 'possible' cross site until I was able to consult the 18th century map mentioned in the previous entry. There, in the north-east angle of the crossroads is a cross pattée symbol with the name 'Tydd Cross' written around it.3 The east-west road crossing here was called Well-Hall Way, while the north-south road was East Gate Way. Beside the lane north of Tydd Cross is written simply 'Road to the Cross'. The word 'tydd' might derive in this case from the Old English 'titt', used in the sense of a 'teat' or slight hill. This point (TF7358820720) is 45m above sea level, which is at least a little above the surrounding landscape. I examined the site in August 2019, but unfortunately found nothing.

 

1. William A. Cutting: 'Gleanings about Gayton (Norfolk) in the olden time' (Agas Goose, 1889), p.127.

2. NRO: DN/TA 127

3. NRO: BL 14/90

     

Gillingham 

(Documented record of cross)
 

The manor and former parish of Wyndale - variously written as Windale, Windle, Windell etc - was once a part of Gillingham, but even its exact site is no longer certain. In 1396 a grant of land by Robert le Clerkes mentions "four pieces of land and two pightles in Gillingham and Windell near Wyndale Wod, at Caylystyl, at Heye Cros, and at Br'che".1 Elsewhere the latter spot is recorded as 'le Breche' (meaning 'breck'), and by 1642 'Wyndale Wod' appears as "Wattsonns alias Windell Wood." But where 'Heye Cros' and any of these other places were located is unknown.

 

1. NRO: GIL 1/15, 716X3

     

Gillingham 

(Possible cross site)
 

A deed of 1470 relates: "Demise in fee by William Loweys to William Warde hermit of Beccles ...[and others] of 1½ acres in Gillingham near green way from Gillingham church to Geldeston church and way from Gillingham green to Stockton cross".1 Whether or not 'Stockton cross' was an actual structure, I can see only one place where it could have been located: TM40419232.

 

The 'green way' from Gillingham to Geldeston - now beneath the A143 - met the old Norwich Road here, then continued west as Yarmouth Road. Faden's 1797 map shows that 'Gillingham Green' was where the northern part of the modern village now is, so the way from the green to the cross has to be what is now The Street, which then joins with Old Yarmouth Road. The crossways that these roads formed, and where a cross may have stood, has now been lost because of the re-routing of some of these roads, but traces of it can be seen next to a lay-by where the A143 curves north-west. The south-east angle of this former junction - which is also where the Gillingham/Geldeston boundary turns - is the only place where a field of 1½ acres could be adjacent to both of the lanes mentioned in the deed. I've made a cursory sweep of this very overgrown patch of land, but it's unlikely that any masonry (if it was indeed a stone cross) could have survived here after the road alterations.

 

Bryant's 1826 map is the only one I've found that gives a name to this crossroads: 'Crusoe's Cross.' It's tempting to think that this might be a corruption of the Latin crucis = 'cross', but 'Cruso' is a family name that's known in Norfolk as early as 1590. (See also under Stockton, as there's a faint possibility that the remains of this cross are now at the church.)

 

1. NRO: GIL/1/21, 716X5

     

Gimingham 

(Possible cross site)
 

Nicola Whyte1 says that "in Gimingham the 'White Cross' reputedly marked the limits of the fold course belonging to the manor." Although I too think this was an actual cross, adding the definite article makes it seem, misleadingly, beyond doubt. Hoare2 gives the original text from 1582, in a 'Judgement in a case between the tenants of Gimingham and Francis Southwell': "till ye come to the Weye leadinge [from] Appleyarde Streate to White Crosse and so still directlie alonge the sayd weye by White Crosse on the West syde".3

 

1. Nicola Whyte: 'Inhabiting the Landscape', (Windgather Press, 2008), p.140.

2. Christobel M. Hoare: 'The History of an East Anglian Soke' (Beds Times Publishing, 1918), p.332.

3. Nat Arch, Kew: DL 44/336

     

Gimingham 

(Possible cross site)
 

Sandred1 gives the field name of 'Capons Crosse' from a rental for the manor of Gimingham in 1484-5.2 'Capon' is thought to have been a surname.

 

1. Karl Inge Sandred: 'The Place-Names of Norfolk' (English Place-Name Society, 2002), Part 3, p.17.

2. Nat Arch, Kew: DL 43/7/26

     

Gooderstone 

(Doubtful remains of cross)
 

Date of visit: 27/9/18.

At St. George's church the only information I initially had was a brief line in the NHER: "Fragment of possible cross in yard" (NHER No.4594.) Long after my visit, the Historic Environment Record kindly provided me with further detail, in the form of an unpublished building report from 1986. The object that I found turned out to be the correct one, as Edwin Rose described to the south-west of the church tower, "a conical limestone lump" that he felt "just possibly" could be the remnant of a cross. In fact it's about 7m south-south-west of the south-west corner of the church tower (TF7624002135.) I suppose it could be the topmost section of a cross shaft, but I've never yet come across one quite as rounded as this. In diameter it's 21cm at ground level, 16cm at the top, and is 36cm high. There are no obvious signs of carving, and if weathered from an originally octagonal section, it's happened in a remarkably regular way. I remain far from convinced about this one.

     

Gorleston 

(Documented record of crosses)
 

According to Suckling in 1846, "A Cross formerly stood near the White Horse Inn, Fenn Street"...1 The White Horse was on the corner of Church Road and Burnt Lane, at a wide confluence of roads including Fenn Street - later renamed as Beccles Road - that was replaced by a large roundabout c.1972. The cross therefore would have been located in the area of TG52350515, opposite the White Horse Service Station.

 

Suckling completes the above sentence by saying "...and another [cross] near the Feathers Inn, High Street." The Feathers still exists, at the corner of Baker Street and High Street. It used to face the wide Feathers Plain, so this cross would have stood at about TG52630431.

 

1. Alfred Suckling: 'The History and Antiquities of the County of Suffolk' (Crowell, 1846), Vol.1, p.368.

     

Gorleston 

(Documented record of cross)
 

Old OS maps mark the site of St. Bennet's Cross at TG5238304389, just west of St. Andrew's church. It would have been just out into the road from the Church Road-Church Lane junction. In 1826 J.H. Druery wrote that "In 1797, the mutilated remains of a stone cross were visible, a little south of the village, but they have now quite disappeared".1 The assumption has previously been made that he was referring to St. Bennet's Cross, but I suspect that he might have been actually talking about St. Clement's Cross (see below.) C. J. Palmer in 1875 recorded "On the opposite side of the road [to the church], where it makes a curve, there is what is imagined to have been the base of St. Bennet's Cross".2 So, something of the pedestal had survived, and despite Druery, St. Bennet's (aka Benedict's) was still shown on the 1887 OS map as 'remains of', although by 1906 it was 'site of'.

 

1. John Henry Druery: 'Historical Notices of Great Yarmouth in Norfolk' (Nichols & Son, 1826), p.138.

2. Charles John Palmer: 'The Perlustration of Great Yarmouth' (1875), Vol.3, p.355.

     

Gorleston 

(Documented record of cross)
 

After the previously-mentioned crosses near the White Horse and the Feathers, Suckling goes on to say: "The mutilated remains of others were visible a few years since; that at the south end of the town, removed in 1798, latterly bore the appellation of the Devil's Tomb-stone. The ancient name of this relic of by-gone days was Clement's Cross, as appears from an entry in the Chievers' (court-leet stewards) accounts for 1597: two acres 'contra crucem Clementij: at or against Clem'ts Crosse.' And in the same record, mention is made of half an acre of land 'juxta [close to, near by] crucem Clem'ts'."1 The nickname 'Devil's Tomb-stone' may be a true local name for the remains of the cross, but Suckling got it from the less than reputable W.E. Randall, who may have been responsible for the invention of the Gull Stones 'druidic circle' at Gorleston.

 

Thirty years later, C.J. Palmer got much of his information from the same sources as Suckling, but he at least was able to give clear information about the location of this cross: "Old England Lane connected the main [Lowestoft] road passing the Church Farm with the road to the east ascending the cliff. At the south west corner of this lane there stood a cross, the base of which remained until 1786, and was vulgarly called the devil's tombstone. This was St. Clement's Cross mentioned in the Cheever's Accounts for 1597".2 Once again there is a discrepancy over exactly when the remnants of this cross disappeared.

 

Old England Lane is now England's Lane, with Church Farm on old OS maps on the west side of the Lowestoft road just south of the Lane's western end, which would put the cross at an estimated map reference of TG52550394.

 

1. Alfred Suckling: 'The History and Antiquities of the County of Suffolk' (Crowell, 1846), Vol.1, p.368.

2. C.J. Palmer: 'The Perlustration of Great Yarmouth' (1875), Vol.3, p.373.

     

Great & Little Plumstead 

(Documented record of cross)
 

Nicola Whyte1 quotes a document of 1588-9 that mentions the death of Richard Marker of Little Plumstead. Marker was in Rackheath when he died, and the two villages agreed that his body would be left at a cross on the boundary between them, to then be taken home for burial. However, the folk of Rackheath carried him a little further towards Plumstead than that - perhaps in an attempt to 'adjust' the boundary in their favour - and he had to be taken back to the cross.

 

The document 'Survey and plan of Mousehold Waste (Inhabitants of South Walsham v. Edward Paston and Miles Corbett)'2 gives some indication as to the location: "in a waye leadinge from Wroxham to Lt. Plumstead a little further than the crosse towards Lt. Plumstead…he was carried backe to the said crosse as to the extreme bownds of both townes…" I find this problematic however, as there was and is only one 'waye' from Wroxham to Little Plumstead: Bell Lane, which runs thru Salhouse. But it doesn't go anywhere near the Rackheath/Plumstead boundary.

 

1. Nicola Whyte: 'Inhabiting the Landscape', (Windgather Press, 2008), p.85.

2. Nat Arch, Kew: E 178/7153

     

Great Cressingham 

(Documented record of cross)
 

Along the road heading south-west out of the village, Fairstead Lane meets it coming from the east, and used to continue westwards to Hilborough. Just south of this former crossroads is the site of - the possibly pre-Conquest - St. George's chapel and hermitage, on a site once known as Stone Close. The adjacent road was called Stoneway, and passed over Stonehill. All these names come from the Great Cressingham Manor Court Rolls of 1561-1639,1 as does the reference to a 'Stone Cross' somewhere nearby.2 A "feyrestede called the Stone" was located at the crossroads, and the parish boundary also passed through it, so that seems a likely site for such a cross (TF85670059.) Or maybe it was slightly further north, at a three-ways on Gospel Hill (TF85570086.)

 

Blomefield3 mentions 'the Cross of Cressingham', which suggests that it was the only one at this village, and likely the same as the one recounted above: "Osbert de Kailli or Cayley in the reign of Henry 3d [1216-72], by his deed sans date, gave to Sir John le Briton all his water or fishery which he had in Cressingham Magna, anciently called Claphamdam, with the appurtenances which begin at the head of a ditch which is between the meadow of the Prior of Norwich and the meadow of William at the Cross of Cressingham, and goes on through the said meadows to a place called Hutsotespool."

 

1. NRO: DCN 60/6, 60/6/1, 60/6/2

2. Alan Davison: 'The Field Archaeology of Bodney & the Stanta Extension, Norfolk', in 'Norfolk Archaeology' Vol.42, Part 1 (1994), p.73-5.

3. Blomefield: Vol.6 (1807), p.98.

     

Great Snoring 

(Remains of cross)
 

Date of visit: 3/10/18

A moss-covered cross pedestal can found in the western part of St. Mary's churchyard, beside a path that leads to the gate to the Old Rectory (TF9459834520.) 81cm square, only 20cm now projects out of the ground. Big chamfered corners form the stop-angles. The mortise hole is 38cm x 35cm, but it was too full of wet leaf mould at the time for me to measure its depth. Cozens-Hardy says - almost certainly correctly - that it isn't in its original position, and probably once stood by the eastern entrance to the churchyard.

     

Great Witchingham 

(Possible cross site)
 

The 1577 churchwardens' accounts1 mention the "waye leading from Bennet Cross to Booton." L.G. Bolingbroke in 18982 says that "the Abbey of St. Benet at Holm [held] a few acres in the adjoining parish of Little Witchingham....and this cross may have marked the site of the Abbey land. The field No. 86 on the Tithe Map3 is still known as Bens Cross." This field is on the north-west side of a elongated crossroads (TG09472029) west of the church, between Blackwater and Fiddler's Hill.  Both Bolingbroke and Cozens-Hardy make the assumption that Bennet Cross and Bens Cross are the same location, and that it denotes an actual cross rather than the crossroads. They may be correct; certainly the road - now a track - that heads from that point north-eastwards is, on the tithe map, marked as 'To Booton'. But if the abbey only held a few acres, and they were in Little Witchingham parish, then they were nowhere near the cross/crossroads. Cozens-Hardy found no visible remains of any cross.

 

1. NRO: BOL 3/74, 741X3

2. Leonard G. Bolingbroke: "The Reformation in a Norfolk Parish" in 'Norfolk Archaeology' Vol.13 (1898), p.202.

3. NRO: DN/TA 697

     

Great Yarmouth 

(Remains of cross)
 

Date of visit: 8/5/18.

In 15221 referred to as "the cross in le midsond", Midsands Cross - also known in medieval times as the 'Cross-in-the-sands' - nowadays sits incongruously in front of a modern bungalow in a suburban road called Crosstead (TG5251710032.) As a scheduled ancient monument, the garden wall of No.19 has to curve away behind it. Housing developed around it in the 1960s, the area having previously been allotments, and before that, a recreation ground. But earlier, this spot was among the windswept and grassy dunes of Yarmouth's North Denes, once called Yarmouth Common. Before the Norman Conquest, a former outlet of the river Bure was said to have reached the sea just to the north, known as Cocklemouth or Grubb's Haven. The 400 acres of land between the Haven and the cross was heavily disputed for centuries by Yarmouth and the lords of its northerly neighbour Caister. Each deemed the land to be theirs, claiming grazing rights for cattle, and 'wreck of the sea' along the shoreline. In 1300, when the first recorded dispute took place, the Haven was still being referred to as "a certain water", but over the following century it completely silted up. By 1600 there was little to show it had ever existed.

 

While the cross probably was intended to mark the limit of the 'liberties' of Yarmouth, the date usually assigned to it - the late 13th century - probably derives from that of the first dispute. In fact at that time the location was described as "Old-crosstead in the Midsands".2 The name implies some antiquity to the site and perhaps, as C.G. Rye suggested, there was once a much older cross on the spot, erected when Yarmouth received its charter to become a 'free borough' in 1207-8.3

 

What remains today is just the massive two-stage 'core' made of flint and pebbles cemented together, which would have originally been faced with stone, and presumably had a tall cross on top. Historic England gives an overall height now of about 2.5m. The circular foundation, which would have been below the surface and mounded over with soil, is now visible, being 3.3m in diameter and 50cm high. It then tapers upward in two stages, to a diameter of 78cm on top.

 

Although historically it was known to be the remains of a boundary cross, it would seem that local people in the 19th century referred to it as the 'Stone Cairn', and some believed that it covered an ancient burial. In early 1859, crowds gathered when tales began to circulate that treasure-hunters had been digging around and beneath it. Although trenches had been dug, and there were rumours of finding bones, metal and a coin in a 'vault' or 'subterranean passage', it came to nothing, and the 'cairn' luckily survived its brief ordeal.4

 

1. NRO: Y/C 4/223

2. Henry Swinden: 'The History & Antiquities of the Ancient Borough of Gt. Yarmouth' (1772), p.352.

3. C.G. Rye: 'Midsands Cross, Great Yarmouth' in 'Norfolk Archaeology' Vol.33, Part 1 (1962), p.115.

4. 'Yarmouth News' in the 'Norwich Mercury', March 5th 1859.

     

Great Yarmouth 

(Documented record of crosses)
 

Cozens-Hardy quotes the 1424 will1 of the Yarmouth bailiff Bartholomew Elys [Ellis], who desired to be buried in St. Nicholas' churchyard (TG52450807) "juxta crucem ex parte aquilon ejusdem ecclesiae" - which seems to translate as "by the cross of the church of the same on the side of Aquilon" [on the north.]

 

Again via Cozens-Hardy, an account from 1405 of an unnamed prior of St. Nicholas' Benedictine priory states "De magna cruce ad hortium austral' xvj" - which I think means something like "the great cross to the garden south 16"[?] Whether or not this might refer to the same cross in the churchyard as that above, I don't know.

 

1. NRO: NCC will register Hirning 133

     

Gressenhall 

(Documented record of cross)
 

The references here aren't exactly clear as to which parish this cross was located in, but it was either in Bittering Magna - now part of Gressenhall - or in the neighbouring parish of Beetley.

 

Carthew in 18781 gives 'Evidences of Harford's Manor', including descriptions from 1390 of lands in Beetley and Bittering, one of which was "apud [by, near] Poescrosse." Then, from a 1532/3 court inquisition about Beetley Common: "And the 4th pt. of that Common and Bruery [uncultivated land] extends from Staplehowe and Poscrosse towards Bitteringe..." Finally, there is a 1533 land agreement: "That the Bishop's sheep shall have pasture at all times of the year from the way leading from East mill westward unto another way leading from Poyes Crosse unto Chappell Mill..." It's obvious that 'Poescrosse', 'Poscrosse' and 'Poyes Crosse' are all the same object, and from the earliest reference date of 1390, has to have been a freestanding wayside cross. The only location that's certain is Chapel Mill, a watermill that stood at TF97761686, right on the boundary between Gressenhall and Hoe. I suspect that the cross may have been named after someone called Poye, a surname known in Norfolk in the 15th century.

 

1. G.A. Carthew: 'The Hundred of Launditch and Deanery of Brisley' Part 2 (1878), pp.453, 560.

     

Gressenhall 

(Documented record of cross)
 

Also from 13901 is the description of another piece of land that: "abutt sup coem viam ducen de Bylnie Crosse" (abuts upon the common way leading to Bylnie Cross.) This may well have stood on Bilney Road, which heads north-westerly out of Gressenhall to the hamlet of East Bilney in Beetley parish.

 

1. G.A. Carthew: 'The Hundred of Launditch and Deanery of Brisley' Part 2 (1878), pp.453.

     

Grimston 

(Site of cross)
 

As Cozens-Hardy remarks, 'Grimston Cross' is marked on Faden's map of 1797, "but does not clearly indicate the exact site." A cross is shown in white on a 1588 map1 of 'Rising Chace' in roughly the right area we now know it to have been, but the topography is somewhat distorted. Luckily the 1780 Grimston enclosure award2 gives a clearer indication, which enabled Cozens-Hardy to place 'the Cross', as it's there called, at what is now the junction of Lynn Road and Low Road (TF71312272), just south-east of Congham Hall, and on the Congham/Grimston parish boundary. It's possible that the cross here was moved in the 1820s and is now one of those by the south entrance to the Park at Hillington.

 

1. NRO: BL 71

2. NRO: C/Sce 1/2

     

Guestwick 

(Remains of cross)
 

Date of visit: 25/6/18.

By the side of Wood Dalling Road, against the corner of a building belonging to Page's Farm, is a socket stone with a short length of shaft still attached (TG0743827650.) The pedestal, which still shows traces of stop-angles, is 66cm square. It's 30cm high, but seems slightly sunken into the ground. The chunky shaft is 30cm square at the bottom, and 60cm high. Chamfered corners seem to show that it was originally octagonal in section, and as Cozens-Hardy says, has the remains of "somewhat elaborate vertical mouldings." During the early to mid-20th century, it was apparently painted white. While I was inspecting this cross, the farm owner told me that it was exactly on the Guestwick/Wood Dalling parish boundary. He was wrong, however, as the boundary actually runs through the field on the other side of the road. Old OS maps record this object as 'Stone', and show it in the same spot as now, but I doubt that this was its original position, as it's just too hard against the wall of the building. Maybe it was once about 30m further north where the road curves and the boundary intersects it?

   

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