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

  Norfolk Cross Survey: Contents

The Survey Parish by Parish: K - L

(Kelling to Ludham)



(Possible cross site)

This is a speculative one put forward by Cozens-Hardy. He found that the Court Book for the manors of Cley and Salthouse referred, in 1585, to "1½ acres lying near Kelling Crosse".1 Although there are no physical remains (and only one other documentary reference that I found, in 15572), he presumed this to mean an actual cross, and theorised that it probably stood at the crossroads formed by the meeting of the A149 Coast Road, The Street, and a track called Meadow Lane (TG09384288.) Because of the erection of the war memorial, the spot - previously Kelling Beck Corner, or 'the four cross-ways' - is now known as Kelling Cross again.


1. NRO: MC 1858/19, 860X5

2. NRO: MC 1859/1, 861X4



(Documented record of cross)

Just south of Litcham is the virtually deserted parish of Kempstone. Barely a trace remains on the ground of its medieval village or the layout of its roads. Here - or possibly in the adjacent parish of Beeston - were 3½ acres of land "in five pieces including at Thysforde, near the heath, at Tweyn acrys and at Cloggys Cros".1 This was in 1395, the land being "purchased with Thomas Clog from Ralph de Beston." I would assume that Thomas was a descendant of whoever had the cross erected. Unfortunately, exactly where it was situated is unknown.


1. NRO: MC 125/4, 600X1



(Possible remains of cross)

Grange Cottage (TM04438571) is a 16th century timber-framed house in East Church Street, and somewhere in the garden is or was, according to the NHER, a "possible medieval cross base" (No.13948.) I assume a socket stone is meant, as a more detailed report of 1978 also describes it as a stone block that has been hollowed out. It has otherwise been thought locally to be a font, originating at Kenninghall Place or Palace more than a mile to the east.1


1. Norfolk Archaeological Index Primary Record Card 13948 (kindly supplied by Norfolk County Council, Historic Environment Record.)



(Remains of cross)

Date of visit: 3/10/18.

At the right side of the porch entrance at All Saints church (NHER No.2182) is what the NHER calls a "possible fragment of cross" (TF9676631694.) I have no doubts, however. It's a 31cm high 'cylinder' of limestone chamfered to be octagonal, tapering slightly from 23cm to 21cm across at the top. I'm positive it's a small section of cross shaft from the top of the column. Although very weathered, there are traces of mortise holes on the top surface where the capital would have been set.



(Remains of cross)

It may not still be on the same spot now, but the last recorded position of this cross was TL8916084194, which is at the north-west corner of the lawn outside the stables at Kilverstone Hall. For decades, it saw use as a mounting block. The only description of it - and a sparse one at that - comes from Historic England: "Octagonal cross base. C14. Ashlar. Lower plinth with 4 eared balls at corners below bell moulding."


According to Blomefield: "In the year 1285, the Customs allowed to the manor belonging to the Prior of Thetford in Kilverstone were these, sac, soc, toll, [etc]...and, till lately, the leet belonging to it used to be kept....The lord of the hundred hath the superior leet, which is held at the stone cross every Wednesday after Michaelmas day, to which all the residents do suit and service, and pay their leet-fee of 10d. yearly".1 He identified this - wrongly - with 'Magdalen Cross', which is now known to have stood elsewhere, in Thetford itself.


Cozens-Hardy thought that the pedestal at the Hall was probably that belonging to Magdalen Cross, and placed it at about TL884843, where Kilverstone Road meets Norwich Road, and close to the boundary between Kilverstone and Croxton. But this was a misreading of the information in Blomefield (see under Thetford.) The provenance of the cross at Kilverstone Hall remains unknown.


1. Blomefield: Vol.1 (1805), p.543.



(Documented record of cross)

Carleton Forehoe is a small village now in the parish of Kimberley, and of it Blomefield says: "in 1429, the black-cross standing on the highway was repaired".1 It was probably on what is now the main B1108 Norwich Road. This seems likely to have been a timber cross, perhaps coated with pitch for preservation. A clerk named Thomas atte Cros may have lived close by in 1424.2


1. Blomefield: Vol.2 (1805), p.402.

2. NRO: KIM 2H/22


King's Lynn 

(Remains of cross)

In Market Street, there used to be a Dominican Friary, usually known as Blackfriars, that was founded in the 13th century (TF62042004.) Some parts of the buildings survived until the 1840s, but the site was levelled for development in 1850-52. Stones and architectural fragments from the ruins were deposited in a yard next to Lynn Museum - which stood opposite - which is where, in the early 1860s, the historian and archaeologist E.M. Beloe found the broken pieces of an elaborately-carved Late Saxon stone cross. No dimensions are given, but it seems that he recovered only the head and the upper part of the cross, which he believed was contemporary with the founding of the Friary. Others have, with more confidence, dated it to the 9th or 10th century. It's very different in form to the later wayside crosses, and may have once stood in some Saxon predecessor to the Friary graveyard. The drawing pictured here, by S. Lutton, shows Beloe's assumed reconstruction of how it looked when complete.1


At one point the parts of the cross were being kept beneath the arch of Greyfriars Tower in Tower Gardens. Then it was moved to Lynn Museum when the Tower was being restored in 2006. Pieced back together, since about 2014 it has stood on a new base just inside the entrance. The museum service's own description of it is as follows: "There are two main decorated sides, the former west elevation showing three panels, the upper being a high relief image of the Crucified Christ with, below, a figure of St. Michael the Archangel and the Dragon, and the bottom panel showing a face, partially obscured by the supporting base. The former south elevation or side of the cross shows decorative leaves and serpents. The former east elevation shows Christ in Majesty in the upper panel with foliage and a swan in the lower panel." They record it as being 1.88m high.


Beloe also found two small parts of the shaft of a second cross, the carving on which he described as "more archaic", and thought it might be a century older than the other cross. On one side it has what looks like a 'bishop' figure giving a benediction, while the other shows Saxon interlace ornamentation. I assume that these pieces are also held by Lynn Museum.


1. E.M. Beloe: 'A Cemetery Cross of the 'Blackfriars' at Lynn' in 'Norfolk Archaeology' Vol.9 (1884), p.346-358.


King's Lynn 

(Documented record of cross)

Blomefield quotes a document of 1349 recording a cross here 33m high, but doesn't tell us the exact source: "The mayor and commonalty petition William [Bateman] Bishop of Norwich, begging his favour towards John Puttock, to admit him as a hermit, who had in the Bishop's marsh by Lenne, on the sea shore, in a certain place called Lenne Crouch, made a cave there....and the said John Puttock has there erected a certain remarkable cross, of great service for all shipping coming that way, of the height of 110 feet, at his own great cost and charge".1 It's thought that the 'Crouch' may have been a former bend at the river mouth.


1. Blomefield: Vol.8 (1808), p.514.


King's Lynn 

(Documented record of cross)

St Margaret's church (TF61761980) was once part of an 11th century priory. Blomefield tells of another cross here in 1509-10, again from an unnamed document: "George Elyngham, prior...in the 1st of Henry VIII. accounted of 24l. 10s. received of the offerings of the parishioners….[including] 3l. 0s. 4d. for the offerings of the good cross in St. Margaret's churchyard".1


1. Blomefield: Vol.8 (1808), p.497.


King's Lynn 

(Documented record of cross)

From a Corporation Document of 1361-2, of which the original is now lost: "10s. for a marble cross bought and placed on the causeway of Mawdelyn, and for repairing and placing same, for notice of division between the liberty of Lynn and Gaywood".1 The "causeway of Mawdelyn" is another name for the Gaywood Causeway, now Gaywood Road, originally named for the 12th century St. Mary Magdalen's hospital that was founded next to it. In addition to its secular purpose, Hillen considered that this was also "a wayside cross, where pilgrims on the road to Walsingham might perform their devotions".2 As it stood on the main thoroughfare leading eastward from the town, this secondary usage seems plausible. The cross is thought to have been placed quite close to the hospital, perhaps in the area of TF630205.


1. Henry Harrod: 'Report on the Deeds & Records of the Borough of King's Lynn' (Thew & Son, 1874), p.79.

2. Henry J. Hillen: 'History of the Borough of King's Lynn' (East of England Newspaper Co, 1907), Vo.1, p.119.


Langley with Hardley 

(Complete but restored cross)

Dimensions: Historic England.

No one knows exactly when the first Hardley Cross was placed here, close to the river bank at the confluence of the rivers Chet and Yare (TG4008701175.) It may have been the 14th century, as it marks the boundary of the jurisdiction of the city of Norwich, and there were many disputes back then between Norwich and Great Yarmouth over the passage of vessels on the waterways. A replacement known from the Chamberlain's account rolls to have been erected in 1543 was of oiled and varnished wood, although earlier ones may have been of stone.


How much of the current limestone cross is genuinely medieval is unknown, as it has been repaired and restored many times, but it's thought to have replaced the wooden cross in 1676. Roy Rainbird Clarke thought the two steps that make up the base date to the 14th or 15th centuries, although Historic England thinks that they're post-medieval. The 92cm square socket stone is not the usual pedestal, being comprised of two blocks rising to a height of 58cm. The shaft is 40cm square at the bottom, tapering upwards, and with vertical corner moulding. The square capital and plain cross are definitely relatively modern, the whole thing measuring just over 5m in height. (Image from Geograph, Photo © Evelyn Simak)


Langley with Hardley 

(Possible remains of cross)

Date of visit: 10/5/17.

At the junction of Cross Stone Road, Lower Hardley Road and a track, on the verge in the northern angle stands a small block of limestone with a groove carved horizontally across one face (TG3761500209.) It's 31cm square with lightly-chamfered vertical edges, and currently stands 50cm out of the ground. When I first saw it in the 1980s, it was about 75cm high, and packed around the base with small stones and rubble.


On OS maps, it's marked as 'Cross Stone', but no longer in the 'Gothic' style meaning an antiquity, as it was on the 1st Edition maps. Cozens-Hardy saw it back in the 1930s, when 1.2m of it was above ground. He mentioned that it had no base, and was "probably only a boundary stone" - but no one has ever suggested what boundary it might have marked. I probed around it with steel rods and indeed detected no base, but may not have gone deep enough. On Bryant's map of 1826, the label 'Hardley Cross' floats a little north of the crossroads; and on the 1839 Hardley tithe award, field 154 (on the north side of the junction) and field 200 (on the west side) are both named 'Cross Close'.1 The 1826 map actually names the spot as 'Haunted Gap', which fits with the local tradition of the ghostly "old woman in red" who sits upon the stone on certain nights. A possibility in favour of it having been a cross is that it sits on a direct road to the village church, a fact that is apparent in about 27% of the genuine, locatable wayside crosses in this survey.


1. Nat Arch, Kew: IR 29/23/258


Langley with Hardley 

(Documented record of cross)

At St. Margaret's church, Hardley (TG38540073): "Henry Bunne, by his will dated in 1501, orders a cross to be erected in the churchyard, ornamented with palm branches, on Palm Sunday".1 No trace of this remains, if indeed it was ever built in the first place.


1. NRO: NCC will register Popy 96


Langley with Hardley 

(Remains of cross)

Date of visit: 19/9/19.

The company that completed the repair and restoration of Langley Cross in 2016 says that it dates from the 14th century, although most sources seem to record it as of the 15th. The socket stone, shaft and capital are medieval, but the three-stage base and columnar plinth it stands on are 19th century, as it was in about 1801 that Sir Thomas Beauchamp Proctor moved it from its original position. It can be found now at TG3476200633, at the south-east corner of woodland called The Thicks. This is on private farmland in Langley Park, now home to a private school, but accessible to the public with prior permission. Four parishes meet at this point, whose names are engraved on the modern plinth: Langley, Chedgrave, Thurton and Carleton St. Peter. Langley Cross appears elsewhere on this site in connection with a somewhat dubious prophecy once attached to it.


Protected as it is by a fence, I only felt able to obtain the dimensions of the lower, modern stages. First is a rectangular base of brick, 1.7m x 1.9m x 17cm high. Then comes a roughly circular stage 1.87m in diameter and 28cm high, again of brick. Upon that is a hexagonal layer of brick and rubble 19cm high, with the sides varying in size between 90cm and 1m. The plinth, again hexagonal, is of stone blocks with a flared base and corresponding upper cornice 1.32m high, and with 45cm sides. This is capped by a solid hexagonal block 35cm high, with the parish names carved onto four sides.


The tapering, rectangular shaft is carved in relief on each side with the figures of the four evangelists. This only occurs elsewhere in Norfolk at Hemsby. But it is unique in the county that the shaft and socket stone have both been carved from a single block of limestone. Much of the facing of the pedestal has been lost to weathering, and parts are held together by rivets, so any dimensions taken would be of little value. Some edges of the decorated shaft have likewise crumbled away. The square, crenellated capital is also carved with religious figures, and has an iron rod protruding vertically, presumably for the fitment of the missing cross-piece. I was unable to obtain the overall height, but press reports of the restoration give it as 7m.


The original location of this cross is a debatable one. Cozens-Hardy and others all say that it stood just south of the ruins of Langley Abbey, at TG36310265. This is where the war memorial now stands, at the junction of Langley Street and Staithe Road. However, this just seems to be local 'accepted wisdom'. No evidence is offered, either from old maps or documentation.


Confusion arises with Faden's map of 1797 where 'Langley Cross' is shown, but north-west of the abbey ruins, at about TG36000300, on the edge of the common or green. A map of Langley Green - undated, but thought to have been made by John Fisher in about 1633 - also shows this cross.1 Neither marks a cross at the usually-accepted location. Some had previously suggested this meant that the cross now in Langley Park was originally at the junction south of the abbey before being moved to the common; then had been moved again to its current position. A simpler explanation has been proposed that there were two crosses in Langley, both marking the limits of the abbey land. Personally, I think both theories are wrong.


Unless any other evidence turns up, I'm fairly certain that there was only ever one cross at Langley. Firstly, the fact that the cross was named after the village is suggestive of only one. Secondly, the 1838 tithe award2 has field 167 at the edge of the common named as 'Langley Cross Allotment'. There are no cross-related names for the plots anywhere near the war memorial. Thirdly, there is an etching of the cross in the 'Gentleman's Magazine' of 1806.3 This was drawn by Isaac Johnson, and signed and dated by him in 1783. The picture is entitled 'Cross on Langley Common, Norfolk', and shows the cross that is now in the Park - but with a more conical base - on the edge of the green or common, just where the old maps mark it. So, the etching shows that Langley Cross was still on the common only 18 years before it was moved into the Park (indeed only 5 years if Faden's map is reliable), and there is nothing to show that it - or any other cross - was ever at the supposed war memorial site.


1. NRO: NRS 21407

2. NRO: MC 3212/214

3. Plate 2, p.17, in 'The Gentleman's Magazine' Vol. 76, part 1 (1806), with accompanying letter from M. Grees.



(Documented record of crosses)

Parts of the structure of the Priory (TF88811744) in Church Street are the remains of a 14th century chapel that may have been built as a rest-stop for pilgrims on their way to Walsingham. In a deposition of about 1420 it was referred to as a hermitage. There were said to be two crosses set up somewhere not far away, one "over the river to the south of the hermitage", and the other "further south." Carthew1 has an undated reference to one, taken from "an auntient booke belonginge to the Towne of Beeston", saying that "It is recorded in auncient Court Rouls that the Lord of Mileham and Beeston appointed his Bailife to erect a Wooden Crosse upon the Common neer the Hermitage of Lutcham, And this was still to continuee his Royaltie to be chiefe Lord of that soile."


Both this and the other cross were clearly intended to be boundary markers. This is made certain by a passage from the Close Rolls, dated July 28th 1414: "To the sheriff of Norffolk. Order, for particular causes laid before the king in person, to put in safe custody, wherever they shall be found, two crosses lately set up upon soil on Lycheham common, and thence carried away it is said, which soil Thomas earl of Arundell and Thomas Erpyngham knight claim each for his own, until debate shall be had between them according to law and the custom of the realm to whom the same ought to pertain, suffering no crosses or other marks to be set up in the mean time for the bounds of the soil there".2 There is no record as to whether these crosses that had been "carried away" were ever found and reinstated.


1. G.A. Carthew: 'The Hundred of Launditch and Deanery of Brisley' Part 2 (1878), p.383.

2. 'Calendar of the Close Rolls, preserved in the Public Record Office'; Henry V, Vol. 1, A.D. 1413-19 (His Majesty's Stationary Office, 1929), p.146-7.


Little Cressingham 

(Site of cross)
  Tom Martin's 'Church Notes' of 1740 record that there used to be the pedestal of a medieval cross in the churchyard at All Saints, Threxton (TF88480013.) No trace of it exists today.

Little Dunham 

(Possible remains of cross - now lost)

In 1962 Pevsner1 recorded a "Fragment of an Anglo-Saxon Cross-Shaft with interlace" in St. Margaret's church (TF86351297.) The 2002 revision2 mentions it a second time. Nevertheless, the archaeologist Edwin Rose dismissed this remnant as "probably mythical" in the NHER entry for the church (No.4207.) Admittedly I found nothing on my visit in July 2019, and I can't find a reference to it anywhere else; but Pevsner was a serious architectural historian who visited every one of the sites he described personally. I find it doubtful that he would have invented such an obscure fact.


1. Nikolaus Pevsner: 'The Buildings of England: North-West and South Norfolk' (Penguin Books, 1962), p. 246.

2. Nikolaus Pevsner & Bill Wilson: 'The Buildings of England: Norfolk 2-North-West and South' (Yale University Press, 2002), p.45.


Little Dunham 

(Site of cross)

Although no one nowadays seems to know its location, 'High Cross' was the site of a medieval cross, according to information from the Bolingbroke Collection housed in the Norfolk Record Office. This may have come from John Chambers in 1829: "The old road, called Walsingham Way, passes through this village, in which was one of the ancient crosses, a place in this parish still retaining the name of High Cross".1


This particular 'Walsingham Way' - of which there were a number in Norfolk - was actually a Roman road which branched off from Peddars Way at North Pickenham and headed NNE for Toftrees. This is confirmed both by medieval documentary evidence, and by an 18th century map.2 Its course is shown on current OS maps, but is absent where it passes through the parishes of Great and Little Dunham. Projecting the course from both north and south, it's clear that a slight correction to the alignment occurred somewhere within these parishes, but not precisely where. Looking at old maps and aerial photographs, my suggestion for the location of High Cross would be at or near the junction of Sporle Road and School Lane (TF86511283.) (See also Necton.)


1. John Chambers: 'A General History of the County of Norfolk' Vol.2 (1829), p.820.

2. James Edward Albone : 'Roman Roads in the Changing Landscape of Eastern England c.AD410-1850' (doctoral thesis, UEA, December 2016), p.171.


Little Ellingham 

(Possible remains of cross - now lost)

A little over half a mile west out of the village, and south of Scoulton Road, is Hall Wood. On its western side there used to be the traces of a medieval moat, once the site of a house that may have been a predecessor of the current 19th century Hall. Just north of that was a plantation that has also now disappeared. John Tingey in 1896 wrote: "I well recollect a stone, about two feet square and six inches thick, which had a large square hole in the centre, and had been removed from this plantation. It has again been taken from the spot where it was placed, and I have not been able to trace it".1 This location was at about TL99059960. It was searched in the 1970s, and the farmer questioned, but no trace or knowledge of this object was found. A size of 60cm square fits within the standard size range of a cross pedestal; but if it was only 15cm thick, it clearly wasn't complete.


1. J.C. Tingey in 'Norfolk & Norwich Notes & Queries' (Norfolk Chronicle), Vol.1, May 16th 1896, p.15.


Little Witchingham 

(Remains of cross)

Date of visit: 25/6/18.

Low down on the south wall, at the east end of St. Faith's church (TG1155920228), is what Historic England calls "Fragment of a stone preaching cross, carved with crucifixion." This is actually an 86.5cm long section of a shaft similar to - but simpler than - that in the wall at St. Edmund's, Downham Market. It measures 25cm wide at the bottom end, tapering to 21cm at the top. It projects out 9cm at the bottom, but presumably the whole shaft is housed in the wall.


There is also a badly-eroded lump from the shaft of this or another cross deeply embedded in the earth just to the left of the south porch. It has vertical fluting carved on all four sides, and measures c.30cm x 35cm, with 23cm above ground.



(Documented record of cross)

Alan Davison1 doesn't give the specific manuscript source, but relates that in the 15th century, documents show 'Branteshaghe Cross' standing just west of Bungay Road, at about TM362974. Back then the road was known as Dulls Lane, and ran just to the east of the medieval settlements around Stubbs Green. Branteshaghe or Brantishaghe - later  Brantishaw and Brunshawes - was the name given to the water meadows of Loddon Beck just to the east, and is recorded back to the 13th century.


1. Alan Davison: 'The Evolution of Settlement in Three Parishes in South-East Norfolk' in East Anglian Archaeology Report No. 49 (Norfolk Archaeological Unit, 1990), p.52.



(Documented record of cross)

One evening in July 1428, two servants named John Burell and Edmund Archer were walking home towards Loddon. Burell happened to be carrying a faggot-hook or billhook, for cutting sticks for firewood. Then "videbant quandam veterem crucem iacentem prope portam aule vocate Lodne Hall" ("seeing an old cross lying near the gates of the court called Loddon Hall"), Burell struck at it with his faggot-hook.1 This incident apparently emerged during his examination for Lollard heresy the following April.


The 'Loddon Hall' mentioned here is not the present late 18th century country house so named, on the western edge of Hales Green. The hall in question stood further north, and just east of the village, as shown on Faden's 1797 map of Norfolk. Hall Green Farm occupies the location today, but even in 1635 it was described as the "site of the manor of Loddon Hall".2 The small common of Loddon Green stood before its gates, and was the meeting of four roads. Today only a crossroads remains, with Norton Road (formerly the main Yarmouth-Norwich way) running east to west, with Sandy Lane coming from Read's Cross to the south-east (see under Hales), and continuing on as Pyes Mill Road, which led to the medieval Pyesmill ford across the river Chet.3 The cross must therefore have stood on the edge of the green at about TM37079863.


1. Norman Tanner: 'Heresy Trials in the Diocese of Norwich, 1428-31' (Royal Historical Society, 1977), p.76.

2. NRO: MC 12/1, 387X6

3. Alan Davison: 'The Evolution of Settlement in Three Parishes in South-East Norfolk' in East Anglian Archaeology Report No. 49 (Norfolk Archaeological Unit, 1990), p.51.


Long Stratton 

(Documented record of cross)

Edmund Cross was rector of St. Mary's church, and according to his will as seen by Blomefield, "died in 1471, and was buried in the church before St. Mary's image, and gave a good missal, 3l. 10s. to buy a cross, and his tenement late Skot's in this town to the profit of the town".1 Whether this would have been in the churchyard or elsewhere in the village is uncertain.


1. Blomefield: Vol.5 (1806), p.191-2.



(Documented record of cross)

The village sign stands on the site of the Baker's Arms Inn, which closed in 1959 and was later demolished. According to the Court Books of the manor of Ludham for 1749-1801, the inn stood "against the Cross in Ludham".1 This would place it at about TG38911835, at the junction of High Street and Yarmouth Road.


1. NRO: DN/EST 43


M - N   

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