Market Cross, Baildon, Shipley, West Yorkshire

Cross:  OS Grid reference – SE 15475 39743

Archaeology & History

Located next to the old stocks by the main roundabout right in the middle of the town is this tall market cross, nearly ten feet high and well known to the local people.  It has been described by several local historians, although its recognition as a “market cross” is slightly contentious as it seems there are no written records to indicate that a market ever existed here.  The great Baildon historian, W. Paley Baildon (1912) was unable to find any info about such a market, commenting simply that “most villages…had crosses in medieval times, many of which still exist; so that the presence of a cross at Baildon is (not necessarily) evidence of a market.”

His description of its form is as valid then as it is to this day:

Old sketch, c.1900
Old photo of the cross c.1900

“The cross, as we see it to-day, is not an interesting object. The square platform of two stages, with its well worn stones, looks as though it might be medieval, and part of the original work.  In the centre of this is a large square block of stone, from which rises a tall cylindrical shaft.

The base is square, with chamfered corners, and a plain roll moulding at the upper edge; the cap is a plain square block, without any attempt at ornament.”

One of Bradford’s industrial historians, William Cudworth (1876) thought that the present cross replaced an earlier one, and that this one was erected by a member of the wealthy Butler family a few centuries ago.  Mr Baildon wasn’t quite as sure as Mr Cudworth.  Nevertheless they both agreed that this edifice replaced an earlier one.  Baildon said:

“My own view is that there was probably a cross here in medieval times; that it was destroyed, either after the Reformation (as so many were), or by the Puritan soldiery during the Civil War; that the steps and perhaps the base remained; and that in the eighteenth century, when the Butlers were one of the leading families in the place, one of them may have erected a new shaft on the old site.”

In much earlier days it was said to have been surrounded by a grove of trees and a brook ran by its side.  Villagers would gather here as it was “a favourite gossiping resort.”  At the beginning of the 20th century, an old gas light surmounted this old relic.

References:

  1. Baildon, W. Paley, Baildon and the Baildons – volume 1, St. Catherine’s Press: Adelphi 1912.
  2. Cudworth, William, Round about Bradford, Thomas Brear: Bradford 1876.
  3. la Page, John, The Story of Baildon, William Byles: Bradford 1951.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

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