Hill Chapel Cross, Goosnargh, Lancashire

Wayside Cross : OS Grid Reference – SD 57273 38505

Also Known as:

  1. Historic England Monument No. 42648

Getting Here

Cross shown on 1912 OS-map

The Cross base is situated in a thick hedgerow on the east side of Horns Lane, opposite St Francis’ Hill Chapel, just to the north of and on the field side of the electricity transmission line that crosses the road at this point. It can be accessed from the field to the north by crossing the stream. In winter the Cross base is just visible from the road side through the hedge.

Archaeology & History

This cross is not described or noted by Henry Taylor in the 1906 edition of his Ancient Crosses and Holy Wells of Lancashire. All that survives is the substantial socketed base of what is likely to have been a mediaeval cross. It is almost completely hidden in the hedge, and is only accessible for ‘hands-on’ inspection from the field side of the road.

It was described by Historic England as:

‘The socket-stone of a probable wayside cross 1.0m square and 1.5m high…. Its present position in a pasture field suggests that it is not in situ.’

Cross position highlighted
Hidden in the boscage

Despite this description, the substantial nature of the base leads me to query why anyone would wish to move it from elsewhere. It is more likely that past land-owners have encroached on to the ancient highway, and fenced it accordingly. Maybe the Hill Chapel congregation will at some consider exposing the base on its hill crest position and insert a replica cross?

There is no record of what happened to the original Cross.  According to a pamphlet describing Hill Chapel, “this house appears to have always been in Catholic hands”, but no mention is made of the Cross.  A likely culprit for its destruction is the early nineteenth century Protestant fundamentalist the Reverend Richard Wilkinson.

The leaf-filled cross-base

In view of the continuity of Catholic ownership and worship at the Hill Chapel site over the road since before the Reformation, and the sustained persecution suffered by local Catholics in the centuries following the Reformation, it is very unlikely that they would have drawn attention to themselves by erecting the Cross, making it almost certainly of pre-Reformation construction.

Reference:

  1. Anonymous, Hill Chapel Goosnargh, privately published pamphlet available from Hill Chapel, n.d..

© Paul T Hornby, The Northern Antiquarian, 2018

Hill Chapel cross

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Hill Chapel cross 53.841045, -2.650849 Hill Chapel cross

Stump Cross, Goosnargh, Lancashire

Wayside Cross:  OS Grid Reference – SD 57287 37421

Also Known as:

  1. Historic England Grade II Listed Building No. 1165108

Getting Here

The Position of the Cross near the road junction.

The cross is situated on the verge at the west side of the B5269 road near its junction with Ashley Lane at Stump Cross, north-east of Goosnargh.

Archaeology & History

All that survives is the socketed base of the mediaeval cross, into which a small modern carved stone cross has been inserted. A bronze plaque attached to the base informs the reader that the cross gives its name to the locality, and that the base was discovered during excavations in 1931.

Richard Cookson (1888), in his Goosnargh Past & Present, writes:

“We have the remains of several upright crosses in this township called “cross stones” all being placed near to some public road or path. The corpses of the Roman Catholics are rested at those stones on their way to internment, and those funeral attendants who are of that persuasion kneel down and offer up a short prayer for the repose of the soul of the departed individual whose body they are conveying to the grave.”

Further to the destruction of crosses in the township, Cookson writes:

“…the Reverend Richard Wilkinson, late minister, of anti-Romanistic notoriety, in his frenzied hostility to the Roman Catholics, caused [the cross] to be broken up and removed…”

The site is listed by Henry Taylor, in his 1906 magnum opus on Lancashire crosses, and speaking generally on the destruction of wayside crosses in the Hundred of Amounderness, he writes:-

The bronze plaque
Modern cross inserted into the Mediaeval socket

“The destruction of so many crosses, which at one time existed in this part of the Hundred, is due to the vandalism early in the nineteenth century of a vicar of Goosnargh, named Wilkinson. He was a vehement Protestant, and owing to his notoriety as a Prophet, was allowed to do much as he liked with these ancient monuments. Many crosses, indeed, it is said, were pulled down with his own hands. His prophesies foretelling the deaths of various persons often unfortunately came true, and he was thus, in this superstitious part of England, dreaded as a wizard. As this work of demolition took place before the date of the Ordnance Survey, there were in all probability many more crosses erected in Mediaeval times in this district than we have now any knowledge of, and it is quite possible that some of the crosses so recklessly destroyed may have been, like those at Halton and Heysham, of pre-Norman date and of great historical value. Fragments of them might even now be found were a diligent search be made.”

Further to this speculation as to the antiquity of these destroyed crosses, it is interesting to note the approximately parallel orientation of roads and field boundaries to the east of the Stump Cross. This may point to the area having been subjected to Roman survey, and the site of the Stump Cross having once been a shrine to the gods of the agrimensores (Roman surveyors) that had been Christianised.

References:

  1. Cookson, Richard, Goosnargh: Past and Present, Preston, H.Oakey, 1888.
  2. Taylor, Henry, The Ancient Crosses and Holy Wells of Lancashire, Manchester, Sherratt and Hughes, 1906.
  3. Richardson, Alan, The Roman Surveyors in Cumberland, P3 Publications: Carlisle 2008.

© Paul T Hornby, The Northern Antiquarian 2017

Stump Cross

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Stump Cross 53.831333, -2.650489 Stump Cross