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Castle Hedingham churchyard cross, Castle Hedingham, Essex

(51°59′24″N, 0°35′53″E)
Castle Hedingham churchyard cross, Castle Hedingham
TL 785 356
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Essex
now Essex
medieval London
now Chelmsford
  • Ron Baxter
12 November 2015

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Feature Sets

The cross is situated in the SE corner of the churchyard, some 30m from the chancel. It consists of a cast lead Celtic style wheel cross bearing the date 1921, mounted on a tapered stone shaft carved with Romanesque foliage ornament on all four faces. This stands on a cuboid base block with 12thc relief carving on its four sides, a plinth with inscriptions, and a low step. Only the base block and the lower section of the shaft are Romanesque.

The cross was discovered in the cellar of the Falcon Inn, and was noted there in RCHME (1916). In 1921 the owner of the Falcon, Mr Kendall, gave it to the village in exchange for nothing more than a replacement support for his cellar roof. it was removed and remodelled as a First World War memorial: the plinth block being carved with a memorial inscription and the names of the 37 men of the village killed in the war, and a cast lead Celtic style wheel cross bearing the date 1921 being paced on the top. This work was carried out by P. M. Johnson. After World War II four more names were added to the existing panels, including that of the artist Eric Ravilious, who lived in the village from 1934.


The history of the cross shaft and base before it was noticed in the cellar of the Falcon is a matter of speculation.


Exterior Features


Part of the shaft is in private hands, and the missing portion is modelled in cement (Charles Bird, see http://www.castlehedingham.org/history/war-memorial). The cross is not sufficiently elaborate for a market cross, and is assumed to have been a wayside cross - not especially common but certainly not rare in the country, although I know of no other examples in Essex. Hope (1979) offers a date c.1135 on the basis of comparisons with the Bury Bible.


Essex Sites and Mounuments Record 25239.

Historic England List number 114531

J. H. Hope, 'The Cross Shaft at Castle Hedingham', Essex Archaeology and History, 11 (1979), 1-5.

RCHME, An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Essex, Volume 1: North West (1916), 59.