Thursday Market Cross, York, North Yorkshire

Cross (destroyed):  OS Grid Reference – SE 603 519

Archaeology & History

Early drawing of York’s Market Cross

This old cross was demolished long since, but I think it’s important to rejunevate a memory of its existence back into our times.  Little has been written about the site as it was destroyed more than 200 years ago and images of the edifice are rare indeed!  It was found near the modern centre of the city and although this ornate-looking thirty-foot tall cross was obviously impressive, an even earlier upright stone stood here in the 13th and 14th century.  But this new carved monument took precedence over its older and lesser upright.  First described — I think! — by Thomas Gent (1730), he told us that,

“The old cross stood towards the Kennel, against the middle of the market.  The lower part was an octagon, had an ascent of six high steps, covered with Tyles for Butchers, higher up with nitches, in which had been effigies and a small pillar above with four Dials and over them a Fane.”

A few years later when Francis Drake (1788) described the same monument, he added very few extra details; though told us it had five steps and not six — but this seems to have been an error on his behalf.  In C.B. Knight’s (1944) work we have what seems to be the most complete historical description of this lost stone edifice.  He wrote:

“In 1429 a new stone cross had been erected in Thursday Market in place of its predecessor by Marion Braythwayt, widow of John Braythwayt, who was Lord Mayor in 1394… This Cross was described by a writer in 1683 as “a fair Cross of stone, built upon the ascent of five steps, and hath neatly cut in stone a turret or battlement eight square, upon which is placed a round pillar with a four-square stone upon the top, which hath a sundial placed upon every square, and a vane above.  The Cross hath a penthouse round about it, covered over with tile, to shelter the market people in rainy weather, and is supported upon eight posts, upon one of which, on the south side, is fixed an iron yard-wand, the standard measure of the market.”  In 1705 the ancient Market Cross…was pulled down.”


  1. Cobb, Gerald, “Note on a Drawing of Thursday Market Cross, York,” in The Antiquaries Journal, 43:1, 1963.
  2. Davies, Robert, Walks about the City of York, Nichols & Sons: Westminster 1880.
  3. Drake, Francis, Eboracum; or the History and Antiquities of the City of York, Wilson & Spence: York 1788.
  4. Gent, Thomas, The Antient and Modern History of the Famous City of York, Thomas Hammond: York 1730.
  5. Knight, Charles Bruton, A History of the City of York, Herald: York & London 1944.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian 

(Visited 33 times, 1 visits today)

Written by 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *