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

  Norfolk Cross Survey: Contents

The Survey Parish by Parish: T - W

(Thompson to Wormegay)

     

Thompson 

(Remains of cross)
 

Date of visit: 17/6/19.

In 1927, Cozens-Hardy went to look for the "crosse in churchyard" that Tom Martin mentioned in his early 18th century 'Church Notes', but failed to find anything at St. Martin's. It seems that in the intervening two hundred years the cross had been slowly falling apart. George Crabbe was rector of the adjoining parish, Merton, and he wrote in his history of Thompson in 1882 that "On the south side, opposite the priests' door, is some rubble work which may have formed part of the base of the churchyard cross. The top step and a portion of the shaft have been appropriated as tombstones".1 Although both Cozens-Hardy and a field investigator in 1977 drew a blank when they went to look for these remains, I was more fortunate.

 

About 8m from the priests' door, at TL9300696945, there is indeed the rubble core of a cross base. Made from large flints mortared together, what remains is about 1m across, with only 16cm remaining above ground. What Crabbe called the 'top step' of the base - or at least a part of it - is, I believe, to be found at TL9296496938, about 9m west of the church tower. This is a flat slab 75cm wide, 50cm high and 12cm thick, set into the ground as a headstone. It is devoid of inscription, with two bevelled edges only, on the top and south sides, and is unlike any other in the churchyard. There is no sign of the shaft.

 

1. George Crabbe (ed. Augustus Jessopp): 'Some Materials for a History of the Parish of Thompson' (1892), p.82.

     

Thornage 

(Remains of cross - now lost)
 

At All Saints church (TG04983620) there appears to have been another cross remnant that has since been lost. The only reference I could find dates from 1940: "In the churchyard is the shaft of an old cross".1 In July 2019 I could find no sign of any cross-shaft there, but huge swathes of the graveyard are badly overgrown with very tall nettles. There is no information about it in the church guide.

 

1. Arthur Mee (ed.): 'The King's England: Norfolk' (Hodder and Stoughton, 1940), p.398.

     

Thurton 

(Possible cross site)
 

In the 1930s, Cozens-Hardy noted the name 'Stump's Cross' on Ordnance Survey maps on the boundary between Thurton and Chedgrave, but said that no remains were then visible. Rather than a specific spot, it seems to have referred to a farm at TM34329974, which in 1778 was named 'Hump Cross Farm'.1 Bryant's map of 1826 calls it 'Stump Cross.' The 'Stumps' name in fact appears on OS maps from the 1st edition 6" of 1879-86 all the way to the 1960s, when it is replaced by Wood Farm. This farmstead is accessed off Nursery Road, about 100m south-west of its junction with Norwich Road, where the parish boundary turns.

 

The farm sits at the north-east corner of a roughly rectangular and rather odd southwards protrusion of Thurton parish, which is sandwiched between Bergh Apton and Chedgrave, and extends beyond the little river Chet into territory that would otherwise be part of Sisland. Several of the fields in this protrusion (138-142) are named 'Stump Cross Meadow' in the 1838 Thurton tithe award.2 A little further west, the 1839 Bergh Apton award has field 442 named as 'Stumps Cross Meadow'.3 The name for all these fields persists as 'Stump Cross Meadow' even further back, on the 1806 Thurton and Bergh Apton enclosure map.4 Another occurrence of the name appears in the 'East Norfolk Register' of 1840, where James Hemnell, a freeholder of Bergh Apton, is described as living "near Stump Cross."

 

In any other instance, I would be certain that 'Stump Cross' referred to an actual stone cross - presumably the usual pedestal and broken shaft implied by the name. Here, the intrusive additional 's' that sometimes interchangeably appears gives me pause. For example, two other nearby fields in Bergh Apton are called 'Stumps Field' in the tithe award. If the stumps referred to were in fact tree stumps, then the addition of 'cross' to the name might simply apply to the nearby road junction. But despite the uncertainty, and in the absence of any solid documentary evidence, I'm still tempted to regard this as a 'probable' cross site rather than a 'possible'.

 

1. Berks. Record Office: D/EE/T34/7/1-2

2. NRO: MC 3212/215

3. Nat Arch, Kew: IR 29/23/59

4. NRO: C/Sca 2/29

     

Thurton 

(Possible cross site)
 

Beside the A146 Norwich Road, where the parish boundaries of Thurton, Bergh Apton and Ashby St. Mary meet (TG32180150), is an area of housing now marked on maps as Prospect Place. It had that name at least as far back as the late 19th century, as the 1st edition OS 6" map shows. But on Bryant's 1826 map, and on the 1806 enclosure map, it is marked as 'St. Catherine's Cross'. On the Bergh Apton side, the 1839 tithe award records a field here as 'Catherine Pightles'.1 The name can also be traced back to 1707, in a set of deeds to land in Thurton and Ashby.2 An ancient track called Sandy Lane, along which the boundary runs, meets the Norwich Road at this point, adding to the possibility of a freestanding cross here. At that spot is a somewhat out-of-place raised patch of overgrown waste land; I searched it in April 2019, but found nothing.

 

1. Nat Arch, Kew: IR 29/23/59

2. NRO: MC 455/17, 753X1

     

Tilney All Saints 

(Remains of cross)
 

Date of visit: 15/8/18.

8m south of the church porch in All Saints churchyard is another of several crosses known as 'Hickathrift's Candlestick', after the legendary Norfolk giant (TF5683217953.) This is an oddly plain and rectangular 14th century pedestal measuring 63cm x 54cm, and 38cm high, with a 92cm tall length of shaft still in place. Cozens-Hardy says that the socket stone has stop-angles, but I could see no evidence of them. The shaft is 31cm x 23cm at the bottom, tapering slightly to 25cm x 21cm at the top, with roll moulding on each corner.

 

The broken top face shows four or five indentations that are usually interpreted by tradition as the finger-marks of the giant Hickathrift. In fact they are the weathered traces of mortise holes, into which the tenons of the next section of shaft would have fitted. Overall, the cross is 1.36m high, and tilted somewhat to the north. H.J. Hillen in the late 19th century1 noted that the cross on the mound once at Marshland St. James was "said to have been removed to Tilney All Saints churchyard", but this is not so.

 

1. NRO: BL/AQ 3/9: H.J. Hillen, The Hillen Mss. (unpublished, c.1891), in ‘The Legendary Folklore of Norfolk.’

     

Tilney All Saints 

(Remains of cross)
 

Date of visit: 15/8/18.

There is a second cross at All Saints, standing close to the churchyard wall on the west side at TF5680317965. When I first visited in the late 1970s, the shaft had been separated from its pedestal, and was laying beside the wall, almost covered in weeds. By 2008 it had been taken into the church for safe-keeping, but now it has been cemented back into place and stands upright. The shaft is rectangular and slightly tapering, 23cm x 16cm, and 1.02m to its broken top. The corners have roll moulding, and there is a heraldic-type shield carved on each face very low down, with a cross incised in the centre of each.

 

The pedestal it stands on is a problem. Now, it is a very rough and plain block, broken, battered, and totally unsuited to the ornate shaft, measuring roughly 38cm square and 20cm high. I don't know if it's the same one that was there on my previous visit, but it can't possibly be the same object described by a field investigator in 1979. The dimensions given on PastScape are very different, and it says "the stone also carries non-decipherable decoration and has pronounced chamfered top stops." None of this is true today, so I can only assume that the original socket stone is now lost.

 

The investigator also added that he thought the cross was a boundary marker, and "doubtless one of the many marshland stones erected in the fens in the 17th/18th century." I'm certainly no expert, but there's nothing about the construction or style of the shaft that would suggest to me that it's not medieval in date. Locally, this seems to be regarded as having been a market cross.1 A market certainly existed here in 1284 by 'prescriptive right' i.e. custom, but whether or not this cross might have marked its location is unknown.

 

I cannot find any reference to this second cross at All Saints that pre-dates the later 20th century. Other earlier sources  - such as Bryant in 1902 - certainly mention the first cross detailed above, but fail to note this one, which suggests that this is a modern addition to the churchyard. This makes me wonder if there is a connection with the 'fragment' of medieval cross shaft that Cozens-Hardy was told about c.1930 that was then "forming the doorstep of the barn belonging to Shore Boat Farm field buildings."

 

He didn't visit the location himself, but a field investigator did in 1988, according to the NHER (No.13394.) By then called Shore Boat Inn Farm, it was found to have only ever had one field barn, way out across the fields next to the West Lynn Drain, at TF57951801. This was an 18th century building, but all doorsteps and floors had been replaced by concrete in the 1960s. While 'fragment' might imply a small piece of stonework, if it was "forming the doorstep", it was probably quite large. It would seem to me that a 1.02m long, 23cm wide cross shaft would fit the bill nicely. So, after it was no longer needed at the barn, did it find its way to the churchyard some time in the 1960s or 70s?

 

1. June Mitchell: 'Tilney All Saints In Living Memory' (Tilney All Saints Local History Group, 2008), p.73.

   

 

Tilney All Saints 

(Documented record of cross)
 

During my visit to Tilney, I was pleasantly surprised to pass the end of a road called Whitecross Lane - so of course had to investigate further. Now split in two by the A17 road, the narrow lane begins at the junction of Church Road and Station Road, heading first north-west, then north, then curving north-east across the arable lands of Tilney to terminate on Lynn Road, formerly the Cross Keys Turnpike. The lane is shown but not named on both Bryant's 1826 map, and Faden's map of 1797, and its origin seems to be as a medieval track between the Third and Sixth Spellow Fields.1

 

There are references in the Tilney churchwardens' accounts in 1516 and 1518 for rent received from Robert Segrave for "four acres of meadow at the White Crosse", and in 1521 from William Rayner, also for "four acres lying at White Crosse".2 There are numerous other similar references, many of which specifically say "at the White Crosse", which to me confirms a freestanding structure rather than a meeting of ways. If I were to guess, I would say that it probably stood at the northern junction with Lynn Road, so that the lane was named as the route to the White Cross.

 

1. R.J. Silvester: 'The Fenland Project No.3: Marshland and the Nar Valley, Norfolk' (East Anglian Archaeology Report 45; Norfolk Museums Service 1988), p.51.

2. A.D. Stallard: 'The Transcript of the Churchwardens' Accounts of the Parish of Tilney All Saints, Norfolk. 1443 to 1589' (1914, pub. 1922), p.112, 116, 121.

   

 

Tilney All Saints 

(Possible cross site)
 

There are also many references in the same churchwardens' accounts for years including 1517-19 and 1521 to rent being received for land lying at, against or opposite a spot variously named Bardols, Bardoles or Bardolfes Crosse.1 For example, from 1518: "Item: for dychyng viij rodes & di [ditches] abowte ye iij acres of medow lyeng agayn Bardolfes Crosse." The Bardolf family were one of the principal manorial land-owners at Tilney, and in 1284, along with a market, William Bardolf was granted an annual fair in August, to be held at his manor.2 This strongly suggests to me a freestanding cross, but I have no connecting evidence to confirm it.

 

1. A.D. Stallard: 'The Transcript of the Churchwardens' Accounts of the Parish of Tilney All Saints, Norfolk. 1443 to 1589' (1914, pub. 1922), p.114, 117, 118, 121.

2. H.C. Maxwell Lyte  et al: 'Calendar of the Charter Rolls preserved in the Public Record Office' (P.R.O., 1906), Vol. 2, p.273.

   

 

Tilney St. Lawrence 

(Remains of cross - now lost)
 

At Islington Hall (TF57221679), a significant part of which was destroyed by fire in the 1970s, a find was made in the early 19th century that seems now to have vanished. The 'Gentleman's Magazine' of January 1822 reported on "an antient Cross found in sinking the Cold Bath at Sir John Oldcastle's, near Islington, co Norfolk. It was presented by Mr. Mickleton to Lord Harley, afterwards Earl of Oxford, and was formerly in his Museum at Wimple, co Cambridge".1

 

No dimensions are given, but this was a stone cross-piece, with only the top section of the vertical and both short cross-arms surviving. An inscription upon it is apparently in Norman French, and translates as "Honoured be all those who worship the cross. Amen." Cozens-Hardy in 1933 contacted the then-owner of Wimpole Hall, but found no knowledge of either cross or indeed museum. If this was in truth the head of an early medieval (or possibly Norman?) wayside or churchyard cross, it would be a rare find, now sadly lost.

 

1. 'The Gentleman's Magazine and Historical Chronicle' Vol.91, Part 1 (Jan-June 1822), p.65.

   

 

Titchwell 

(Remains of cross)
 

Date of visit: 17/8/18.

Titchwell Cross - or simply 'The Cross' on old maps - stands proudly on its contemporary mound at the meeting of Church Lane, Chalkpit Lane and the A149 coast road (TF7623743721.) Both mound and cross date to the 15th century, and stand at the head of Church Lane, leading to St. Mary's only about 150m away. The earth mound itself is roughly circular, about 12-13m in diameter and 1.5m high.

 

On top is a stepped, reducing base of post-medieval brick, 1.1m square at ground level and 42cm high. Onto it is mortared the 72cm square socket stone, as usual becoming octagonal above through chamfered corners and stop-angles. This is 48cm high, with a 2.9m shaft affixed into its mortise hole. 32cm square at the bottom, the shaft becomes octagonal as it tapers upward to a domed, octagonal capital. This has been reattached at some point, and the cross finial is missing, otherwise this would be a complete structure.

   

 

Titchwell 

(Documented record of cross)
 

Tom Martin's notes in the early 1700s apparently say that there was "part of a cross" in front of the south porch of St. Mary's church (TF76224387), but Cozens-Hardy found no trace in the 1930s, and I found nothing on a visit in August 2018.

   

 

Tottington 

(Possible cross site)
 

Tottington is a deserted parish in central Norfolk, empty of people since 1942 when it was taken over by the Defence Ministry for training purposes. It still forms part of the Stanford Battle Training Area, and access is rarely permitted. In the Walsingham (Merton) Collection in the Norfolk Records Office can be found the deeds to properties in Tottington, including the sale in 1614 by William Avys to Robert Goodwyn of a piece of land called 'Sigges', which was situated in 'White Cross Furlong'.1 I haven't been able to determine the location or any other information about this, but the 'White Cross' name is for me a clear flag that a wayside cross may have been situated here.

 

1. NRO: WLS XXVII/3, 414X8

   

 

Trimingham 

(Possible cross site)
 

Another 'White Cross' name here, but this time with a location (TG27373891.) The 1838 Trimingham tithe award1 names field 45 as 'White Cross Pightle.' This, says Hoare in 1918 , is "at the angle of the sea lane and main road".2 The main road has to be Cromer Road, on the north side of which the field can be found, and which retains that name most of the way from Trimingham to Cromer. The 'sea lane' is now no more than a footpath - but once a track called White Gate Lane - which leaves Cromer Road here and heads north-west then north to the cliff top. 'White Cross Pightle' lay in the angle between the two, but the junction was originally slightly further east than it is now. Although not on a boundary, the meeting of ways might have been a suitable place for a freestanding cross, as it was at the edge of an area known as 'Town's End', before it opened out into the now-vanished 'Willow Green'.

 

1. NRO: DN/TA 213

2. Christobel M. Hoare: 'The History of an East Anglian Soke' (Beds Times Publishing, 1918), p.434.

   

 

Upper Sheringham 

(Remains of cross)
 

Date of visit: 2/8/18.

Just to the right of the north door into All Saints church is the socket stone of a medieval cross, now being used as a planter (TG1441241866.) It's slightly unusual in that it's completely octagonal; there is no square lower section, thus no stop-angles, or indeed any other decoration. It measures 60cm across and 25cm high. As occasionally seems to occur, the mortise hole has been very roughly hollowed out and enlarged to become vaguely circular.

 

The NHER reports that it was found in about 1985 in the garden of a nearby house recently demolished, and was later moved inside the church (No.21293.) This was supposedly a spot just north-west of the church where a fountain had been erected in the 1880s (TG14364188.) I find problems with this however, as maps of that period show only an empty field which by the 1980s had become allotments. And it's highly unlikely that another water feature would have been built there, as the drinking fountain and cistern known as Abbot Upcher's Conduit already existed by 1814, just outside the churchyard gates only 35m away.

   

 

Walsingham 

(Remains of cross)
 

Date of visit: 16/7/19.

Westgate Green is the modern name of a large triangular swathe of grass and trees at the meeting of St. Peters Road and Westgate in Great Walsingham. In the late 1920s/early 1930s Cozens-Hardy noted the rubble core of a village cross, "about a cubic yard in size", on the western side of the green. His photograph shows a squat column of flint cobbles roughly mortared together, which he believed would gradually be destroyed by children kicking it apart.

 

Its identification as a cross base has been questioned in the past, but comparison between Cozens-Hardy's photo and other exposed rubble cores such as at Stanhoe, Pentney and Thompson left no doubt in my mind that his identification was correct.

 

Having studied many images of the green and looked at it on Google Street View, I had assumed that the flint column had indeed been destroyed, since there was no visible trace of it. I went there intending to probe the ground for any foundation layer remaining below the surface - but was somewhat surprised and pleased to find that the entire structure is actually still there, at TF9399937655. A small tree or large bush had apparently grown against and around it over the decades, obscuring it entirely. This seems to have been cleared away fairly recently, although some fibrous roots and stems are still clinging to its western face.

 

Some of the material on the sides and top has undoubtedly crumbled away since the 1930s, but it remains 86cm high, and roughly 1.4m x 1.4m at ground level. The top surface now measures about 70cm x 85cm. Probing around it revealed that it sits on a compacted stony layer, and it's possible to discern on the ground the original outer face of the core in some areas. This has led me to conclude that the stepped base that would originally have enclosed the core was probably octagonal in shape.

 

Near the eastern tip of this same triangular green is an object which I have seen described online as an "ancient Christian cross." Although it looks distinctly medieval - despite the 'lantern' style head which is otherwise unknown in Norfolk - it is in fact a 20th century memorial to Sir Eustace Gurney, who lived at Walsingham Abbey, and died in 1927.

   

 

Walsingham 

(Remains of cross)
 

Date of visit: 3/10/18.

In 1719, in the north-east corner of the graveyard at St. Mary's & All Saints at Little Walsingham, Tom Martin recorded "the pedestal of an old carved cross in ye ch. yd. over a brick vault." Cozens-Hardy was unable to find it, but it must have been taken away for safekeeping, as it now sits near the font inside the church, to the right of the west door (TF9350936500.)

 

Despite damage to the top edges it's in very good condition, and is probably the most ornate socket stone in Norfolk. It measures 67cm x 69cm at the base, and has a 28cm square mortise hole - which for some reason has been ground down to create a circular bottom. The tallest part now remaining is 50cm high, but much of the upper section has been broken away, so it's impossible to tell if it was once octagonal. There are no stop-angles, but the corners have been carved into stout pillars with broad feet. Traces of elaborate carving remain, to go with the arcading still present on each of the sides.

   

 

Walsoken 

(Remains of cross)
 

Date of visit: 15/8/18.

From the most ornate socket stone in the county to one of the plainest. It sits in All Saints churchyard, just to the right of the priest's door on the south side of the church (TF4772410535.) It consists of an undecorated limestone block with slightly-sloping sides, 65cm x 72cm at the bottom, 58cm x 66cm at the top edge, 37cm high. Mortised into it with lead is a 56cm stub of shaft 28cm x 24cm at the bottom, lightly chamfered at the corners. It currently sits on a slab of stone 1.1m x 92cm, which is perhaps all that's left of the original plinth. In Cozens-Hardy's description and photograph from the 1930s this plinth was a two-step construction of brick and stone "in rather a ruinated condition" causing the cross to tilt badly.

 

Tom Martin in about 1740 sketched "a stone bearing a cross" within the church, and about a century later Dawson Turner included in his own edition of Blomefield's 'History' a sketch with the description "Monumental cross at the W. end of the S. aisle of the church - 43½ ins. [1.1m] long." Cozens-Hardy thought that this may well have been the head of the cross in the churchyard, but no trace of it has ever been found.

   

 

Walsoken 

(Possible cross site)
 

Cozens-Hardy records this under Emneth, but it was and is actually in Walsoken parish. Faden's map of 1797 - as well as the 1st edition OS 1" map of 1838-40 and later maps - show 'Whitecross Lane' beginning at the western end of Wilkins' Road (TF48840883), heading westward to meet Meadowgate Lane on the eastern edge of Wisbech at TF47210896. The first part of this lane still exists, renamed Green Lane in the 1960s, then peters out into a footpath. The former line of the Wisbech & Lynn Railway cuts across at this point, diverting the path along it instead of continuing straight on as it once did. If a 'White Cross' ever existed along this lane, my guess for its location would be where it met Meadowgate Lane. Although now within the boundaries of Wisbech, it used to be in Walsoken parish, and according to the 1842 tithe map, was then a crossways.

   

 

Warham 

(Remains of cross)
 

Date of visit: 3/10/18.

Just to the left of the north porch in the churchyard at All Saints is an upside-down cross pedestal (TF9477341626.) I think there are stop-angles, but its position and the grass growing all round it make it hard to be sure. What I could see measures 68cm square and 40cm high. There is some kind of inverted 'V' carving on each side. When Cozens-Hardy saw it in the 1930s, the socket stone was right way up, and forming part of a rockery along with an old font and other masonry. He describes the carving as "something in the nature of a canopy with a trefoil within it." He was able to see that a piece of shaft was still in the lead-lined mortise hole, but sliced off flush with the surface.

   

 

Watton 

(Documented record of cross)
 

According to the Merton Court Rolls for 1539-401: "The chaplains of Watton made a certain cross at Maidswell as a new (?) bound or division for the said town of Watton, to the detriment of the lord of this manor, for that the said p'cell [parcel] of land called Maidswell is within the common of Merton and not within the bounds of the town of Watton".2 I haven't yet been able to determine exactly where Maidswell was, but given the disputed land, I suspect that it may have been in the area of TF904001 to the south-west of the town, where there were springs in Watton Fen, close to the parish boundary with Merton.

 

1. NRO: WLS III

2. Rev. George Crabbe: 'Report on the Muniments at Merton Hall, Norfolk' in 'Norfolk Antiquarian Miscellany' Vol.2, Part 2 (ed. Walter Rye, 1883), p.573-4.

     

Weeting-with-Broomhill 

(Remains of cross)
 

Dimensions: Historic England

The Stump Cross can be found on Forestry Commission land just over a mile north of Weeting, in a plantation around a slight rise known as Mount Ephraim (TL7735691366.) As it stands now, it is a 1.8m tall shaft set into a 40cm high socket stone, both made of Barnack limestone. The tapering square shaft is 31cm across at the bottom, with roll moulding at the corners, while the pedestal is 73cm square, with chamfered corners and some carved octagonal moulding on top.

 

When Cozens-Hardy saw it in 1934 the pedestal was separate, with 1.2m of shaft lying next to it. He didn't know it at the time, but there was another 40cm section of shaft hidden in nearby undergrowth. He was under the impression that the shaft was the lower half, newly broken off from the socket stone, whereas it was actually an upper section. "A square flat stone" lying nearby he thought may have been the capital, but this has since disappeared without trace.

 

This was virtually the same scene that greeted W.G. Clarke and W.A. Dutt years earlier when they had sought out the cross in September 1908. At that time the lead lining of the mortise hole was still visible, and it was clear that the shaft had broken off level with the top of the pedestal. Clarke described the object Cozens-Hardy was uncertain about as "a flat stone 6 ins. thick and measuring 11 ins. by 14 ins., for which we could assign no use, as it could not have formed part of the base, and there was no indication of anything of the kind having existed on the top of the cross. On this square piece were a number of incised lines, very uneven and of no pattern".1

 

Although Rainbird Clarke said in 19372 that the parts had at that time been "temporarily removed for repair", it now seems likely that the restoration actually occurred in about 1958. The repair line where the two sections of shaft were cemented together is still visible 1.2m from the top. (Photo by Hugh Venables, from Geograph.)

 

The cross stands about 275m west of a green track that heads directly north from Weeting, now called Pilgrims' Walk, and in the 16th century 'Lynn Way', but once had the ubiquitous name of 'Walsingham Way'. It's also about 90m south-east of another old track that runs from south-west to north-east. Where the two tracks cross is about 400m to the north-east. So, the cross isn't actually at a crossroads or beside any road. Yet Cozens-Hardy quotes Tom Martin about a journey he took from Thetford to Methwold in June 1720, where he describes here "part of a crosse...[that is] broken into two pieces and set on each side of the Road for boundaryes'." Indeed, at one time it had the name 'Broken Cross'. But which road was it then beside, as it clearly isn't in its original setting?

 

Gibson's 1695 edition of Camden's 'Brittania' says "In the fields of Weeting, is a fine green way, call'd Walsingham-way, being the road for the Pilgrims to the Lady of Walsingham. And about a mile from the town, to the north, is another like it from Hockwold and Wilton, upon which are two stump crosses of stone, supposed to be set there for direction to the pilgrims".3 From that, the cross was beside the south-west to north-east track from Hockwold, which may well have been another pilgrims' route.

 

A 1580 map4 of 'Methwold Warren and Severalls' actually does depict not one but two distinct structures here, each with its own base and upright cross. In addition there is a third road crossing at the same point, running north-west to south-east, from Methwold towards the former parish of Broomhill. The two crosses are shown as standing in the southern and eastern angles of this six-way junction. Meanwhile, the 1775 Weeting enclosure map5 shows 'Weeting Crosses' either side of the north-south track at or very close to the crossways. Earlier than both of those sources is the 'Dragg Book' for Weeting of 1541/2, where the limits of one of the sheep-grazing grounds is described as "from thence unto Well Hill pit and from thence to Lynne Way to the two crosses".6

 

Whether there were originally one or two crosses may never be known, but it's clear that the Stump Cross that now exists is about 400m away from where it should be. As further evidence, the Weeting tithe award of 1849 shows that plot 106 - immediately north of the old crossroads - was called 'Weeting Cross Cover'.7 If it were practicable, a thorough search of the undergrowth in the TL77649162 area might prove rewarding.

 

1. W.G. Clarke: 'Medieval Cross at Weeting' in 'The Norfolk Antiquarian Miscellany' (2nd Series) ed. Walter Rye, Part 3 (1908) p.105-6.

2. R. Rainbird Clarke: 'In Breckland Wilds' (2nd edition, W. Heffer & Sons, 1937), p.88.

3. William Camden: 'Brittania, or a Chorographical Description of Britain and Ireland' (ed. Edmund Gibson, 1695), p.402.

4. Nat Arch, Kew: MPC 1/75

5. NRO: C/Sca 2/318

6. NRO: MS 13489, 40C6

7. Nat Arch, Kew: IR 29/23/618

     

Weeting-with-Broomhill 

(Documented record of cross)
 

Writing of the Neolithic flint mines or 'pits' at Grimes Graves in 1866, the Rev. Charles Manning said "A hill on the north-western side, opposite the pits, is called 'Whitecross Heath'….Perhaps the name 'Whitecross' has reference to some wayside cross of later date".1 The 1849 tithe award gives the name 'White Cross Plantation' to a square-shaped covert - which had been grubbed-up by the 1940s, but is now part of the general forestation - that was indeed to the north-west of Grimes Graves. Confirmation of the existence of an actual White Cross comes from the 16th century 'Dragg' or field book cited previously, which places it a little south of the plantation in the TL80069016 area, in the angle between Mundford Road and the road to Lynford

 

1. Rev. C.R. Manning: 'Grimes Graves, Weeting' in 'Norfolk Archaeology' Vol.7 (Norfolk & Norwich Archaeological Society, 1872), p.176.

     

Weeting-with-Broomhill 

(Documented record of cross)
  Tom Martin in 1718 recorded a cross in the churchyard at St. Mary's (TL77678919), but Cozens-Hardy was unable to find it. If anything had survived it would have been found by now, as the graveyard has been thoroughly tidied-up and 'scrubbed clean'.
     

Wendling 

(Documented record of cross)
 

Dating to about 1200 is a grant of various lands from the parson of St. Peter and St. Paul's church to a certain Lefthein de Weuelinges. These lands and meadows were at places with wonderful Middle English names that are sadly now lost, including "near Prioresalfaker and Cobbinggesrode, at the Cross, on Langelond, on Sortelond, at Sortelondesende, 'in Pihtel', in Oterescroft, in Blenchecroft, on the mill pool, on Niueling near the Land of Dunewold, and near the churchyard".1 Unfortunately, I have no idea where 'the Cross' was located.

 

1. NRO: MC 170/1, 634X3(a)

     
West Acre

(Documented record of crosses)

 

Close study of West Acre field books of 1529 and 1599 has uncovered the presence of four crosses in the parish, although the exact location of only one has been determined.1 The village land north of the river Nar was divided into four named fields. The northernmost was Wadmere Field, deemed to be the probable location of a structure variously recorded as 'Whyght crosse', 'Alba Crucem', and 'Qwythcrosse' - all obvious variants of the widespread 'White Cross' name. Heading north from the village through this field was a lane named 'Walsingham Way', beside which I suspect the cross stood.

 

In the West Field south of 'Walton Way' (the current road to East Walton) was 'Stone Cross', which I'm inclined to think might have been on the sharp turn of the parish boundary there. Also somewhere in West Field was 'Catereynescros.' It's possible that this was named for St. Katherine, to whom there was an altar in the parish church in 1416. North-west from the village ran a road named 'Gaytongate', which headed towards the settlements of Gayton and Gayton Thorpe. This seems to have separated West Field from Medyl Field, and crossed the parish boundary at 'Thorpcroshill'. Here stood 'Thorpecrosse', at about TF76631673, today just an empty space between two plantations.

 

1. Alan Davison & Brian Cushion: 'The Archaeology of the Parish of West Acre Part 2' in 'Norfolk Archaeology' Vol.44, part 3 (2004), pp.458-61.

     

West Walton 

(Remains of crosses)
 

Date of visit: 15/8/18.

In October 1892, "Mr. Manning reported, from information of the Rev. W.G. Browne, that two bases of crosses, supposed to be boundary crosses, were in a ditch at West Walton. One is highly ornamented. It is proposed to raise them and have them photographed".1 But nothing happened until Cozens-Hardy made enquiries in 1935, and the then-rector had them removed to St. Mary's churchyard, where they can be found today (TF47071335.)

 

The two socket stones are set either side of the path just inside the western gate. That on the south side (photo middle left) is a very standard type with stop-angles, but the base is slightly splayed. It measures 63cm square, and 42cm high. The mortise hole is 28cm square, 8cm deep. On the north side, the other pedestal is larger, and with more well-defined stop-angles, although some of the top surface has worn away. This one is 70cm square and 50cm high, with an octagonal mortise hole 36cm across, 11cm deep (photo bottom left.)

 

PastScape wrongly records both mortise holes as being only 5cm deep. Nevertheless, the relatively shallow holes have raised the notion that the shafts may not have been very tall. Unfortunately I don't have many such measurements with which to compare them. Virtually all the other crosses that I've inspected either still have the shaft fitted, the mortise holes have been worn away, they've been filled with soil or plants, or they've been hollowed out for use as fonts. One reported from Northrepps was supposedly 23cm deep, the one at Fransham I measured at 17cm in depth, while that at Middleton is 11cm deep, the same as the deepest one here at West Walton.

 

The idea of shorter shafts seems to be tied in with the suggestion that the pedestals here were parts of boundary crosses - although I've not found any evidence that crosses set on boundaries were likely to be shorter than others. Cozens-Hardy says that the ditch in which they were found, about 200 yards (c.183m) apart, "forms the boundary between Church Farm and Kelks Farm." Church Farm House still exists south of St. Mary's, just off Church End. Kelks Farm is not marked on any map that I can find, but I suspect it may be the site currently named Walnut Farm, between River Road and Wisbech Road. Running between these roads there is still a long straight ditch that seems to divide the fields of the two properties.

 

Given that the ditch exists, why would stone crosses be required to mark such a boundary between two farms? If they were made - at some expense - for that purpose, why are the two pedestals not identical in size? Why do they not display the same craftsmanship? Why is one mortise hole square and the other a more rare octagonal form? Although I don't have answers for any of these questions, I suspect that if they were set up to mark a boundary, it has little to do with the farms. There were two chief medieval manors at West Walton, one held by the Abbey of Ely, the other by the Priory of Lewes. Research has shown that the Lewes manor house was a little north of the church, while the Ely manor was to its south, and east of the ditch.2 Perhaps there was some connection between the manorial holdings and the crosses?

 

1. 'Norfolk Archaeology' (Norfolk & Norwich Archaeological Society' 1895), Vol.12, p.336.

2. Alan Davison: 'The Manors of West Walton' in 'Norfolk Archaeology' Vol.42, part 3 (1996), pp.339-343.

     

West Winch 

(Documented record of crosses)
 

Blomefield1 recounts the 1528 will of Robert Baston or Boston of West Winch, in which he bequeaths to the church a house that he owned, "and wills as good a cross to be set up at the south end of the town, by his executors, as was at the north end of the town".2 I haven't been able to locate the sites of either of these crosses, but I imagine they would have both been beside the main A10 road from King's Lynn to Ely that runs north-south through the village.

 

The local rector must have been speaking of the older northerly cross when he wrote in 1861: "Part of the pedestal and shaft of the old parish cross alluded to in Blomefield, may be seen in Mr. Leonard C. Smith's farm-yard, probably removed there by the Rev. Edw. Dickenson, Rector, A.D. 1667 to 1704. An old house, which stood on this site, and was pulled down about sixty years ago, appears to have been the residence of the above venerable Incumbent".3 I had hopes that perhaps these remains might still be traceable, but no such luck. I managed to find out that Leonard Smith held Willow Farm, which lay on the eastern edge of the Common. Unfortunately the farm was demolished in the 1980s when the area was covered by new housing, and now lies beneath the homes on the west side of Ash Grove.

 

1. Blomefield: Vol.9 (1808), p.157.

2. NRO: NCC will register Palgrave 23

3. Rev. George Eller: 'Memorials, Archaeological and Ecclesiastical, of the West Winch Manors' (Thew & Son, 1861), p.178.

     

Weybourne 

(Site of cross)
  The photographer and amateur archaeologist William Bolding (1815-99) apparently marked a churchyard cross on his plan of the ruins of the Augustinian priory here. Cozens-Hardy says that it was 25 feet (7.6m) south-west of the south-west corner of the tower at All Saints church (TG1114843021.) There's nothing there now, but even in the 1930s there remained "only a few inches of the rubble core."
     

Whissonsett 

(Remains of cross)
 

Date of visit: 14/8/18.

Within St. Mary's church is the only complete top of a late Saxon wheel-head cross found thus far in Norfolk (TF91922334.) It differs from the round-headed type in that the four quadrants between the arms of the cross design are pierced right through. It sits in a niche in the nave wall, on the south side of the chancel arch, and has been dated stylistically to the early 11th century. Part of the shaft has survived with it, 27cm wide, while the head is 43cm across. The overall height is 62cm, but was a little taller when first found. A broken bottom edge was chiselled off flat so that it could be displayed upright.

 

It was discovered in 1900 on the north side of the churchyard when a grave was being dug, although it was several years before it was examined by experts. Made of Barnack limestone, it's said to be of rather crude design, with a fairly simple interlace pattern carved onto both faces. When Cozens-Hardy saw it in the 1930s it had been white-washed, but it seems that when it stood in the churchyard a thousand years ago, it might well have been colourfully painted. By comparison with other remains known around the country, it also might not have been the head of a tall freestanding cross, but a grave-marker not much more than a metre high, on a simple block base.

     

Whissonsett 

(Possible cross site)
 

There are slight indications of a possible medieval cross in a 'drag' or field book of Whissonsett dating from 1485-6.1 One of the quarentines or land divisions in the East Field was described as ending "apud [at or by] hylle crosse", while that next to it was actually called 'Hilcrosse furlonge'.2 Assuming that such a cross did exist, my favoured location for it would be at about TF91992317, the junction of Dereham Road, New Road and High Street. This is called Stocks Hill, where the village stocks once stood on a broad triangular green. Another possibility is TF91482314, where Raynham Road forks from Mill Road, and the field in the angle was called 'Pilgrims Pightle' in 1842.

 

Probably unconnected, some land in the parish at a place called 'Wolves Crosse' was sold in 1575.3 This name was echoed in a lease of land between 1606 and 1627 at a spot recorded as 'Wollvies croft'.4

 

1. NRO: MS 11504, 34B7

2. G.A. Carthew: 'The Hundred of Launditch and Deanery of Brisley' Part 2 (1878), p.503-4.

3. NRO: HIL 1/258, 875X4

4. NRO: HIL 1/259, 875X4

     

Wiggenhall St. Germans 

(Possible remains of cross - now lost)
  In the entry for the church of St. Peter in this parish (No.2284), the NHER list of monument types simply says 'cross (medieval)' but gives no further information or specific source. Further enquiries of the Historic Environment Record have led to a 1984 report by field investigator Edwin Rose of, once within the church, a fragment of "a wheel-headed cross slab." This could refer to an upright marker, or to a recumbent grave-cover, both being still common in late medieval times, although more well-known in northern England. The church itself is a roofless shell and has been so since the 1920s. The ruin and the small churchyard are well-maintained by the Historic Churches Trust, but completely empty apart from a few gravestones (TF60431325.)
     

Wiggenhall St. Germans 

(Site of cross)
  At the junction of Peter's Road and Common Drove (TF57881277), there are no remains of the cross that early maps show on the western edge of the parish. Haiwarde's 1591 map and William West's 1799 'Map of the Countrey of Marshland and the Adjacent Fens' both depict 'St. Peter's Cross' here as a standing structure. Faden's map of Norfolk in 1797 on the other hand merely calls it 'Peter's Cross'. In the medieval period, the roads that met here were called St. Peter's Drove and St. Mary's Drove, and the cross would have stood on the boundary between St. Germans and Wiggenhall St. Mary. Nothing more seems to be known of it.
     

Wiggenhall St. Germans 

(Remains of cross)
  In the gardens of Fitton Hall (TF59291355) there are said to be various pieces of ecclesiastical masonry, including the pedestal of a medieval cross. However, the NHER calls them "probably imports of a later date" (No.17297.) This Hall should not be confused with the 16th century Fitton Hall (now called Fitton Oake) on the opposite side of the road and about 50m further south. A chapel of St. James was associated with this old manor house in the early 14th century, so this is another possible source of the pedestal.
     

Wiggenhall St. Germans 

(Remains of cross)
  The hamlet of Wiggenhall St. Mary the Virgin is in this parish, and near the church is St. Mary's Hall, partially of the 16th century (TF58451452.) The NHER records a 'stray find' in the garden here some time before 1993, of a fragment of a 12th-13th century cross, composed of 'shelly limestone' (No.61628.)
     

Wiggenhall St. Germans 

(Possible cross site)
 

The particulars of a land sale in December 1660 reveal 4.5 acres which abutted on the south upon "the highway from the Greene in Wiggenhall St Jarmans to Seeche Crosse".1 The Greene seems to have stretched northwards from the Lynn Road/St. Peters Road junction, with the present village green being all that remains at the northern end. The 'highway' in question may then be the current Mill Road, which runs south-easterly from the green towards the hamlet of Setchey. The post-medieval date of the document makes it uncertain that a physical cross is recorded here - but if it is, I would tentatively place it at TF61091407, a three-way junction just west of Seeche Abbey Farm. At this point the boundaries of Wiggenhall St. Mary, St. Germans and South Lynn used to meet.

 

There is no evidence of an actual abbey here, but the farm has been connected by some to a 12th century leper hospital that once existed hereabouts. Setchey itself is now a part of West Winch parish, with the hamlet being some distance east of the farm. Even into the 19th century it was known by some variation of Setch, Seeche, or Setchey Magna. This brings into play a possible piece of supporting evidence for a physical 'Seeche Crosse', namely a 1315 grant of land in the village given by a man named "Michael ad-crucem de Magna Sethhiche".2

 

1. NRO: KL/C 50/621

2. Northamptonshire Record Office: F(M) Charter/1870

     

Wighton 

(Documented record of cross)
 

In a land ownership dispute of 1575-61 it was noted that 'Anngell Crosse' was one of the boundary markers of a sheepwalk at Crabb's Castle.2 This might have been somewhere in the area of TF914398, as this is the location of the afore-mentioned castle, actually a medieval ringwork that has now been ploughed out of existence. For some reason Nicola Whyte records this as being at Holkham, but it's clearly in Wighton, just over a mile west of the village.

 

Location-based personal names are not always to be relied upon, but a debtor named "Adam atte Cros, of Wighton" is recorded here in 1337.3 Rather than living near a sheepwalk, it may be that the man's name has a connection with the next entry.

 

1. Nat Arch, Kew: DL 4/18/19

2. Nicola Whyte: 'Inhabiting the Landscape', (Windgather Press, 2008), p.129.

3. Nat Arch, Kew: C 241/109/109

     

Wighton 

(Possible remains of cross)
 

Date of visit: 3/10/18.

The object just outside the gateway to Temples Barn (TF9397039943) in the High Street at Wighton was apparently first noticed by the indefatigable field investigator Edwin Rose in 1987, according to the NHER. He described it as a "stone slab, polygonal, about 30cm (1ft) across and thick, apparently limestone. Looks very like a section of cross shaft" (NHER No.23978.)

 

If so, it would have to be from an exceptionally tall cross. It is actually octagonal, and 45cm across, which is about 10cm larger than the base of any shaft in Norfolk. It's now partially buried in the grassy verge, but the section out of the ground measures 25cm high. It crossed my mind that it might be a plain socket stone, but I was unable to turn it over to see if there was a mortise hole underneath. I spoke to the owners of Temples Barn, who thought it might be a millstone - but those of course are much larger and circular. There are no signs of any stop-angles or other tooling. It could conceivably be part of a plinth on which a cross pedestal was mounted. It stands almost opposite a small triangular green - where the war memorial is now located - at the entrance to Kirkgate, the lane running past All Saints church, potentially a prime position for a wayside cross.

 

Alternatively, there used to be a three-ways about ⅓ of a mile north-west of this point, where an unnamed by-road heading for Gallow Hill and Holkham was met by a track called Drove Lane (TF93454030.) The tithe award of 18391 shows two adjacent fields called 'First Cross Close' and 'Far Cross Close', suggesting another possible site.

 

1. Nat Arch, Kew: IR 29/23/637

     

Witton 

(Possible remains of cross - now lost)
 

At St. Margaret's church (TG33103157) the original churchyard entrance was on the eastern side, which was blocked up in 1828. Thirty years later, "what was interpreted at the time as an early form of cattle grid for a lych-gate....was uncovered on the site of this gateway; a hole approximately four feet square and four feet deep was lined with flint rubble and floored with brick above cobbles. An arched drain led off from it. In removing this structure, sherds and stone mouldings, one suggested as part of a stone cross, were found." Rather than a cattle grid, it's also been mooted that the hole could have been a soakaway for the stables that once stood in the north-east part of the churchyard.1 What happened to this possible "part of a stone cross" is not known; there were no signs of any 'stone mouldings' remaining in the churchyard when I visited in May 2019.

 

1. Edwin Rose: 'The Churches' in Andrew J. Lawson: 'The Archaeology of Witton'; East Anglian Archaeology Report No.13 (Norfolk Museums Service, 1983), p.98, 106.

     

Wiveton 

(Doubtful cross site)
 

Cozens-Hardy records this as being at Glandford, though it's actually in the parish of Wiveton. He notes the name 'Holy Cross Hill Plantation' on Bryant's 1826 map of Norfolk, adding that he found no remains of a cross nearby. The name applied to an oval patch of woodland - which still exists - at TG02864090. This is at the extreme southern end of Wiveton parish, on rising ground just east of Blakeney Long Lane. About 250m to the south, that road and Blakeney Short Lane form a crossroads with the B1156. A field line that might have once been a track also terminates at this point, and the Wiveton-Field Dalling parish boundary turns here.

 

However, the 'Holy Cross' element of the name appears on no other map that I can find. On the 1842 tithe award it's called Hobb's Hill Plantation, while the field around it is Hobb's Croft.1 On the 1st edition OS 6" map - and now - it's called Hobscroft Plantation. I do wonder if the surveyors for Bryant's map might have misheard when they queried locals if the wood had any name that they might record. Or perhaps the name was misread when the map was being printed. It's not out of the realms of possibility that 'Hobb's Croft' was mistakenly recorded as 'Holy Cross'. (Something similar can be found in the parish of West Acre, where a plantation called Stowborough was transcribed on Bryant's map - and only there - as 'Strawberry'.)

 

1. Nat Arch, Kew: IR 29/23/649

     

Woodbastwick 

(Possible cross site)
 

Ranworth used to be its own parish, but is now a part of Woodbastwick. An early 17th century land terrier for Ranworth1 records "Item: Seauen [seven] Roods of land Arable betwixt the lord of Ranworth west & William Cobb east, & abutteth upon Cromesgap North, & whytecrosse South".2

 

In the 1839 tithe award for Ranworth3 fields 56 and 162 are called, respectively, 'Lower White Cross' and 'Upper White Cross'. These are both in the south-west angle of the crossroads at TG34971422, where Panxworth Church Road is met by Priory Road and an old but unnamed lane heading west. I could find no remains in September 2019, but to me this seems likely to have been the site of an actual cross.

 

1. NRO: DN/TER 120/2/1-37

2. A.W. Morant and J. L'Estrange: 'Notices of the Church at Randworth' in 'Norfolk Archaeology' (Norfolk & Norwich Archaeological Society, 1872), Vol.7, p.206.

3. Nat Arch, Kew: IR 29/23/435

     

Wood Dalling 

(Documented record of cross)
 

Tom Martin's notes for 1731 mention "a neat cross standing by my Ld Hobarts mannor house [Wood Dalling Hall, now a private residence at TG07422702] next westward of ye church." Cozens-Hardy failed to find it, until he was told in 1934 of the cross in the park at Heydon, the next parish to the east. He thought it likely that it had been moved in the 18th century by the Bulwer family, who owned both properties. There's no certainty that the two crosses are one and the same, but Cozens-Hardy saw the sketch included with Martin's notes, so must have been reasonably sure. However you wouldn't expect to find a cross at a manor house, so where it originally stood, we don't know. It's possible that there might be a connection with a recorded payment "by Robert Dey for Sir John Hobart" for the repair of an "unidentified cross" in 1664-5.1

 

1. NRO: NRS 18031, 41D1

     

Wood Norton 

(Possible cross site)
 

In about 1552 "John, son of John de Wood-Norton….with Mabel his wife, granted to Walsingham priory, six score sheep in the common pasture, from Ulfs Cross to Horsley Bec".1 I do not have the location of Ulfs Cross, but suspect that this was more than simply a crossroads. The name itself suggests a very early date, as it is derived from Old Norse, and only seems to have survived unchanged as a personal name until just after the Conquest.

 

1. Blomefield: Vol.8 (1808), p.315.

     

Wormegay 

(Remains of cross)
 

Date of visit: 15/8/18.

Wormegay Cross sits on the village green next to the war memorial, at the junction of Castle Road and Saxon Way, which leads to the church (TF6639311814.) Another track also starts here, heading south across the fields. The broken shaft is 88cm high, 30cm square at the bottom, with the upper part originally octagonal, but now weathered to be almost circular. It probably dates from the 14th century. The socket stone in which it sits measures 53cm x 50cm x 38cm high. Other than chamfered top edges, it's a plain block. This is then mortared onto another, larger, block with traces of stop-angles visible, measuring 72cm square and 48cm high. All of this then sits on a modern plinth of stone blocks 45cm high, 1.88m square. Supposedly one of these blocks may be another fragment of the shaft, but I couldn't discern which it might be.

 

I have to disagree with Cozens-Hardy when he says that the larger and lower of the two blocks is modern. The presence of eroded stop-angles seems to belie this. If anything, the plainer and smaller socket stone seems less likely to be contemporary with this cross. But it wasn't in its present condition until about 1868, when a local farmer named William Gilson Hoff reassembled the parts, built the plinth, and erected it in its former location. The farmer's son told this to Cozens-Hardy in 1927, saying that "the stones were collected from various parts of the village, the principal stone being on the original site." It seems quite possible that the smaller pedestal belonged to another cross altogether; either that, or it was simply an old block of stone repurposed to make the village cross a little more imposing.

   

Appendix One

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