Hidden East Anglia: Home

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

   Norfolk Cross Survey: Contents

The Survey Parish by Parish:


    For at least part of the Middle Ages Norwich was one of the largest cities in England, so it's almost inevitable that there would have been a large number of crosses. Many will have gone unrecorded, while others may yet be discovered hidden away in wills, estate papers or depositions. Within the city walls there have been 58 parish churches; each may have had at least one churchyard cross - although not a single one has survived in situ. Beyond the walls stood crosses in the parishes that are now suburbs, and others that helped define the medieval boundaries of 'greater Norwich' - what came to be called the 'County of the City.' I've thus divided this section into two parts: The City & County of the City, and the County Boundary Crosses. Two of these boundary crosses actually stand just within the civil parish of Hellesdon outside the County, but I've felt it necessary to include them under Norwich.


St. Vedast's church

(Remains of cross)


  In Norwich Castle Museum is a section of a late Saxon cross shaft stated to measure 89cm by 27.5cm. It's believed to date from the late 10th or 11th century, and is made of grey sandstone, decorated in a Viking style of ornamentation known as 'Mammen.'

It was found in 1896 when a house was demolished near Rose Lane. The house had been built onto the side of the old churchyard of St. Vedast's church (TG23530857.) Although the church itself had been torn down in about 1540, the graveyard had continued in use into the 18th century. The cross is presumed to have stood in the precinct of St. Vedast's, which was possibly a pre-Conquest foundation. The photo on the left, taken in 1938, is by George Plunkett, and reproduced here with thanks.

Calvert Street

(Site of cross)


Although Cross Lane is a 19th century name, at the point where it meets with Calvert Street there used to stand the 'Stumped Cross' (TG23020916.) This was demolished before 1700, but as Samuel King's 1766 map of Norwich shows, it was replaced by Cow Cross. Sandred1 tells us that "According to tradition, the city cow-herd used to gather the citizens' cows here and drive them to the Town Close, which was outside St. Stephen's Gates, in the common."


1. Karl Inge Sandred & Bengt Lindstrom: 'The Place-Names of Norfolk: Part 1 The Place-Names of the City of Norwich' (English Place-Name Society, 1989), p.101.

Magdalen Street

(Documented record of cross)


Close to where the A147 St. Crispins Road now passes over Magdalen Street there used to be another road called Botolph Street, forking off to the north-west. According to Kirkpatrick in the 1720s, "Upon the void ground lying between the Channels of these two Streets stood the Cross, wch on occasion of its having been broken ... was called Stump Cross".1 In 1599, so Thomas Nash relates, it was known as 'Gilding Cross', but by then it had been dug out of the ground, or "stumped up by the roots".2 The actual spot was at about TG23150931, now beneath Magdalen Street.


After Nash's time, the tale of Stump Cross becomes a little confusing. From Kirkpatrick we learn that it was rebuilt in 1640, then four years later it was ordered to again be demolished and the stones used for the city. However, Cozens-Hardy says "This was not carried out, and the order was countermanded in 1661." But according to Blomefield "In 1673, 20 shillings [were] paid by the chamberlain, to re-edify [rebuild] Stump-cross, on the ground it formerly stood on".3 Whatever happened to it, by 1720 Kirkpatrick was saying "There is a piece of the lower part of the shaft of a cross now lying on the top of St. Saviour's churchyard wall, next to the lane leading to Rotten Row, about a yard long. I suppose it is part of the old Stump Cross." Unfortunately, the wall around St. Saviour's is now no more than a low kerb, and any remnant of the old cross has long since vanished.


1. W.H. Hudson (ed.): 'The Streets and Lanes of Norwich: A Memoir by J. Kirkpatrick' (1889), p.83.

2. Charles Hindley (ed.): 'Nash's Lenten Stuff' (Reeves & Turner, 1871), p.92.

3. Blomefield: Vol.4 (1806), p.445.

Charing Cross

(Documented record of cross)


First documented in 1366, Charing Cross stood at about TG22870875. This was in the area still bearing its name, where Westwick Street and St. Benedict's Street come together. As Blomefield says, "The north-east corner of this churchyard [St. Gregory's] abuts on Sherer's-hill, which took its name from sheremen or cloth-cutters that dwelt there; on the spot at the meeting of the three streets, was a stone cross erected, by corruption called Charing-cross, for sherer's-cross; this was taken away in 1732".1 Elsewhere, he called it "a neat ancient stone pillar".2 Other corruptions of its name include Shearing, Shearhill, Sharing, Sherman and Shermanhill Cross.


1. Blomefield: Vol.4 (1806), p.286-7.

2. Blomefield: Vol.3 (1806), p.448.

Whitefriars Bridge

(Site of cross)


The current Whitefriars Bridge (TG23430917) was opened in 1925, while the first was built of wood in the early 12th century. It wasn't until 1591 that it was remade in stone, so the cross that stood upon it in 1541 was almost certainly also of timber. The 'Sanctuary Map' of that year, commissioned by the mayor of Norwich, shows a cross mounted on the eastern side of the single-arched bridge.1 Then, as until more recent times, it was called St. Martin's Bridge. Unfortunately nothing more seems to be known about the cross.


1. Nat Arch, Kew: MPI 1/221

St. Martin-at-Palace church

(Possible remains of cross)


Just south of Whitefriars Bridge is the redundant St. Martin-at-Palace church, now home to the Norwich Historic Churches Trust (TG23470910.) Before its conversion to other uses, much of the floor was excavated in 1987-8, revealing the existence of two pre-Conquest timber structures on the site. In addition, according to a note published not long afterwards, "Fragments of a 10th-century decorated grave slab were recovered as well as a fragment of possible cross shaft".1 The context seems to imply that the cross was also of late Saxon date. However, it seems likely that the find was re-evaluated, as the actual excavation report, published thirteen years later, makes no mention of any possible cross fragment.2


1. D. Gaimster, S. Margeson & T. Barry: 'Medieval Britain and Ireland in 1988' in 'Medieval Archaeology' Vol.33 (1989), p.202.

2. Olwen Beazley & Brian Ayers: 'Two Medieval Churches in Norfolk' (East Anglian Archaeology Report No.96, 2001.)

Eaton Street

(Doubtful remains of cross)

  The NHER has a record of an object in the garden of a house in Eaton Street (TG20280621) - which is in the former parish of Eaton - that is "just possibly some sort of cross base" (NHER No.29938.) It apparently resembles a 'stone acorn' about 1m high, with a depression in the top. Supposedly it came from a spot just to the north, where the A11 bypass was being built in 1974-5 - but there was no road or other site of interest there previously. I've yet to encounter a cross pedestal of even remotely that size or description, so I have serious doubts about this item.
St. Peter Mancroft church

(Documented record of cross)


"From the will-books in the Bishop's office" Blomefield obtained the following record: "In 1462, John Holle Turnor, [was] buried in the churchyard on the north side, and gave to the making [of] a stone-cross called a palme-crosse, five marks, which was to be placed over his grave; this palme-crosse is mentioned in many wills".1 This was in the churchyard of St. Peter Mancroft, near the market place (TG22930842.) The entry for Mileham concerns a medieval cross placed on a chest tomb, the only remaining example of such a thing in Norfolk. Although this one hasn't survived, I suspect that Turnor's cross was also placed on a tomb - or at least a grave-slab - rather than just a grave. For one thing, a stone cross would be in danger of sinking if simply placed on newly-dug soil. For another, five marks is the equivalent of more than 2100 today, which is far more than the cost of a simple cross. I'm sure it would have paid for a fitting tomb as well. (See also St. George Colegate, Norwich.)


1. Blomefield: Vol.4 (1806), p.213.


(Remains of crosses - now lost)


Philip Meadows Martineau (1752-1829) was a surgeon who bought Bracondale Woods in Lakenham, Norwich, in 1793, and later the nearby Carrow Abbey ruins. He then built Bracondale Lodge or Hall which was in the area of TG23880709, and using remnants from the abbey constructed "an ancient chapel" on his property. In common with other landowners who had "antiquarian partialities", like Sir William ffolkes at Hillington, the approach to the Lodge was "decorated with ancient crosses, and other relics of former ages".1 The Lodge was demolished in the 1960s, and the area is now partly occupied by County Hall. Where the crosses came from, we'll never know.


1. Thomas Cromwell: 'Excursions in the County of Norfolk' Vol.1 (1818), p.155-6.

St. Michael's Cross, Tombland

(Documented record of cross)


The pre-Conquest church or chapel of St. Michael used to stand in the middle of Tombland, towards the southern end. In the late 11th or early 12th century it was demolished at the time of the construction of Norwich Cathedral by the city's first Bishop, Herbert de Losinga. Blomefield, working from entries in the Cathedral Priory registers collected by Dugdale, tells us that the bishop "took down St. Michael's chapel, and laid open the whole churchyard for the advantage and beauty of his monastery, placing a stone-cross on the spot where the chapel stood, with the image of St. Michael on its top; this was afterwards called St. Michael's Cross, and was the boundary between the liberties of the church and city".1 There is no record of when the cross was removed. Working from Blomefield's 1741 map, and OS maps from 1885 onwards, my estimate for the location of this cross would be TG2334608790, a few metres west of where the two old red phone boxes are on the 'Tombland triangle' today.


1. Blomefield: Vol.4 (1806), p.117.

Near the Maid's Head, Tombland

(Documented record of cross)


A second cross in Tombland is revealed through the writings of the antiquary John Kirkpatrick (1687-1728), who examined the accounts of the Chamberlains of the City. "On Tombland there was a cross which stood near the North East corner, which was taken away in 1487. Item paid 3/4 to Robt Moors, Carpenter, for pulling down of the high Cross wch stood on the void ground called Tomlond against ye Charnell and toward the corner of the sd charnel called the North West corner, because decayed and in danger of falling through the Pageants of the Fraternity of St. George there made on account of their Procession".1 The use of a carpenter to take it down suggests that this was a wooden cross. This is confirmed in an entry in the 'Book of Pleas' from the late 14th century: "a wooden cross standing opposite to the Carnary [the Charnell] which (way) at present is called Tumlonde".2


The 'Charnell' still exists in the Cathedral Close, being a chapel over a crypt where the bones of the dead were stored. The building is now part of Norwich School. This information, plus the appearance of the cross on Blomefield's map of 1741, enables me to locate this structure at about TG2332608892. This spot is c.20m south of the Maid's Head hotel, near the turning from Tombland into Palace Street. Coincidentally, this is almost the exact site on which the Edith Cavell memorial stood until it was moved in 1993.


Cozens-Hardy had the notion that this and the previously-mentioned St. Michael's Cross might have been one and the same, but this is obviously not the case.


1. Edward A. Tillett: 'St. George Tombland: Past and Present' (Agas H. Goose, 1891), p.5.

2. William Hudson & John C. Tingey: 'The Records of the City of Norwich' (Corporation of the City of Norwich, 1906), Vol.1, p.54.

Stumped Crosse, Tombland

(Documented record of cross)


It's much harder to precisely locate Tombland's third cross. Kirkpatrick1 says that "Another Cross of Stone stood near the South West corner of Tombland, Crux sup le Tomlond, 13 Rich. II.[1389/90] It was called the stumped crosse in the time of Edw.IV" [1461-83] An earlier mention comes from the Norwich 'Liber Albus', of a settlement made in 1306 between the Cathedral Priory and the citizens to keep the southern part of Tombland clear at certain times: "a certain part of the same place viz. between the stone cross lately erected there and the Ratonerowe in bredth, and from the same cross direct to the wall of the said priory in length".2 The idea was to free the area of stalls, shops, and the buying or selling of animals, so there would be no "encumbrance...for having ingress and egress to the gates of the said priory." We learn from this that the cross must have been built around 1300. 'Ratonerowe' was 'Ratten Row', a name applied to the buildings along the southern edge of Tombland between the Ethelbert Gate and King Street, destroyed by fire in 1507.


The register of the Norwich Freemen, the 'Old Free Book', gives a 1453 description of the Wards of Norwich, and the aldermanries within them. The bounds of the 2nd aldermanry - North Conesford - ran "from the said Church of the Austin Friars to a certain stone cross situated over against the great gates of the Cathedral Church of Holy Trinity of Norwich".3 While the "Church of the Austin Friars" was St. Michael's Conesford, now under the St. Anne's Wharf development, the 'great gates' have to be the Ethelbert Gate, the southern entrance to the Cathedral Close.


Cozens-Hardy unfortunately misread Kirkpatrick and thought the cross stood much closer to the Gate, where the old underground toilets - now closed - are situated. My own estimation is that it was located at about TG23340874, just south of where Queen Street crosses Upper King Street - but it's hard to tell because of the destruction of the old building line.


1. Edward A. Tillett: 'St. George Tombland: Past and Present' (Agas H. Goose, 1891), p.5-6.

2. William Hudson & John C. Tingey: 'The Records of the City of Norwich' (Corporation of the City of Norwich, 1910), Vol.2, p.273.

3. Hudson & Tingey: op cit, Vol.1, p.131.

St. Giles' church

(Documented record of cross)


At St. Giles' (TG2256408599) "There was a hermitage in the churchyard", says Blomefield, "and in 1428, Sir Richard was hermit here. There was also a cross, and an image of the Trinity in a niche in the wall on the west side of the steeple".1 There is no trace of the cross today.


1. Blomefield: Vol.4 (1806), p.239.

St. George Colegate church

(Documented record of cross)


A coverlet weaver named Thomas Newman was buried in 1533 at St. George Colegate (TG22990903) on the north side of the churchyard. In his will he "ordered a tomb to be made over him, and the cross then standing in the churchyard to be removed, and set on the top of the middle of his tomb".1 This seems almost exactly what happened at Mileham, although here neither tomb nor cross have survived. However - either the terms of Newman's will hadn't been carried out, or there was a second cross at St. George's, as in 1538, "Rob. Curson, millwright, [was] buried by the Palme cross in the churchyard..."2 (See also St. Peter Mancroft, Norwich.)


1. Blomefield: Vol.4 (1806), p.473.

2. Ibid, p.476.

St. Cross' church

(Documented record of crosses)


St. Cross' or St. Crowche's church was demolished in the mid-16th century, but used to be found at about TG23010872, at the northern end of Exchange Street. In 1479, "Rob. Stenton [was] buried in the yard on the north side by the cross there, and [in his will] gave 10 shillings for a new cross".1


1. Blomefield: Vol.4 (1806), p.299.

St. Michael-at-Pleas church

(Documented record of cross)


St. Michael-at-Pleas church (TG23230874) in Redwell Street is now redundant, but in 1522 "Stephen Leman [was buried] in the churchyard by the cross on the north side, and [in his will] gave a legacy to buy a jewel".1 As is usual for Norwich, nothing remains of the cross today.


1. Blomefield: Vol.4 (1806), p.326.

St. Martin in the Bailey church

(Documented record of cross)


Like St. Cross' church above, St. Martin in the Bailey was torn down in the mid-16th century. It was just south of the castle, in the angle between Golden Ball Street and what is now Rouen Road (c.TG23260830.) According to Blomefield: "A cross called St. Martin's-cross stood in the south part of this churchyard".1 Nothing else seems to be known about it.


1. Blomefield: Vol.4 (1806), p.122.

St. Stephen's church

(Documented record of cross)


Once again Blomefield is the only source for this, at St. Stephen's church (TG22920829) beside Rampant Horse Street: "In 1514, Will. Blyth was buried in the churchyard, between the porch and the cross, which stood on the south side of the churchyard".1


1. Blomefield: Vol.4 (1806), p.162.

Aylsham Road

(Documented record of crosses)


Two crosses are recorded by William Worcestre outside St. Augustine's Gate, along what is now the A1067 Aylsham Road to Hellesdon. In the 15th century, Worcestre spent much of his life in service to the celebrated knight, Sir John Fastolf. Between 1478 and 1480 he made a series of journeys through England, recording his observations both historical and topographical in the form of notes, the collection of which has come to be known as his 'Itineraries.' The only manuscript copy exists in the Parker Library at Cambridge,1 and only parts of it were first published by James Nasmith in 1778. It appears to be in 1479 that he made the following notes concerning Norwich:


"Memorandum that from the gate of Fairchilds Manor in Hellesdon to the nearest Cross towards Norwich, (made) of marble, is 220 x 60 paces.


Also from the said marble cross called ------ to the wooden cross made by Gregory Clerk is 160 paces.


And from the said wooden cross to the gates of St. Augustine's is 140 x 60 paces".2


A frequent habit of his was to pace out the dimensions of buildings, and distances to them. The length of Worcestre's paces or 'steppys' has been a matter of much discussion. John Harvey compared many of Worcestre's dimensions to the actual known dimensions of the buildings measured, and concluded that, while 53cm (21 inches) was the normal average length of the pace, the results actually varied, and his measurements seemed to be less accurate over longer distances. This latter is very understandable given that "It is evident that what Worcestre called his 'step' was not a pace, but the combined dimension of his two feet placed heel to toe".3


The one fixed point that we know is St. Augustine's Gate. It was demolished in 1794, but stood at TG2279409618 across St. Augustine's Street, just south of the junction with Magpie Road. The wooden cross - which had been erected by the Sheriff, Gregory Clerk, only two years before Worcestre's visit - was 140 x 60 paces from the Gate, which works out as 4.452km, or 2.76 miles, when using the 53cm average pace. However, Worcestre would have travelled by horse over that distance, and it isn't even a useful estimate, as it places the cross way out in Horsford parish.


Knowing that it was just 160 paces or 85m to the marble cross - the name of which Worcestre annoyingly omitted - is thus of no help at all. Nor is the measurement from Fairchild's Manor in Hellesdon, which was actually owned at that time by Worcestre himself, having acquired it as part of the settlement of a case involving Fastolf's will. Unfortunately, I have no idea where that manor was.


1. Corpus Christi College: CCCC MS 210

2. John H. Harvey (ed.): 'William Worcestre: Itineraries' (Oxford University Press, 1969), p.255.

3. Ibid, p.xv.

Earlham Bridge

(Documented record of cross)


It seems to be accepted that the first stone bridge in the former parish of Earlham (TG18970824) was built in (or shortly after) 1502, as part of the provisions of the will of gentleman landowner Thomas Bachecroft of Little Melton.1 According to Blomefield, Bachecroft "gave his estate to be sold for that purpose, and to make a stone cross by it, and put on it a scripture, desiring the passengers to pray for his soul, and the souls of Margaret his wife, his father's and mother's, and of Tho. Northwold and Margaret his wife".2 This is the same man who endowed in his will a cross on the bridge at Barford.


Walter Rye had another source claiming that the bequest was to repair - not build - both the bridge and the causeway alongside for foot passengers, and "ordered a cross of freestone to be placed on [not by] the said bridge" - but I've been unable to trace this source.3


The bridge appears in a 1556 charter as a point on the County of the City bounds, as well as in a slightly earlier perambulation of Edward VI's time. But the cross itself was never mentioned as a boundary marker.


1. NRO: NCR 1/20 r.64

2. Blomefield: Vol.4 (1806), p.511.

3. Walter Rye: 'History of the Parish of Earlham' (1917), p.55-6.

Grapes Hill

(Documented record of cross)


Blomefield says that in 1501 John Bowde willed 20 pence each a year to the five parish churches of what was then West Wymer ward "which used yearly on St. Mark's day to go in procession unto the cross without Westwykgates".1


And dating to 1453, from the 'Old Free Book': "Within the Ward of Wymer also are comprehended three Aldermanries which are divided in form following, viz: One Aldermanry from a certain cross situated in the middle of the high way outside the gates of Westwyk towards the common watering commonly called Nether Erlham Watteryng to a cross in the city called Shermanhille [Charing Cross], within the bounds of which the under written parishes are contained, viz: the parish of St. Benet [Benedict], the parish of St. Swithin, the parish of St. Margaret, the parish of St. Laurence, and the parish of St. Gregory. This Aldermanry is called Westwyk".2


The cross had to have been only just outside the gates in order for the bounds given to have encompassed those five parishes and no more. Indeed, the parish boundary of St. Benet - the most westerly parish of the five - extended out from the gates just far enough to include the leper house there, then a little way northward to include some fields and houses between there and Heigham Gates. In my estimation, the cross must have stood at about TG22420886, where St. Benedicts Street meets Grapes Hill.


Contrary to the conclusions of the 'Atlas of Historic Towns', this therefore cannot be the same 'Earlham Cross' that was supposedly one of the medieval boundary crosses of the County of the City.3


1. Blomefield: Vol.4 (1806), p.269.

2. William Hudson & John C. Tingey: 'The Records of the City of Norwich' (Corporation of the City of Norwich, 1906), Vol.1, p.131-2.

3. Prof. James Campbell: 'Norwich' in 'The Atlas of Historic Towns, Vol. 2' (Scolar Press & Historic Towns Trust, 1975), p.23.





The early 14th century Norwich 'Custumal' in the 'Book of Customs' contains a section about the jurisdiction over the bodies of those drowned "in the water of Norwich and the common River", as well as "upon land as far as the four crosses of the city".1 Although these four crosses are nowhere named or located, there were eleven crosses that various people have suggested marked the County of the City boundary at different times.


Running anti-clockwise from the north, these were:


1.   St. Faith's or White Cross, at Mile Cross (formerly part of Hellesdon.)

2.   Hellesdon Cross, on Drayton Road.

3.   Cross in Hellesdon churchyard (anomalous and undocumented.)

4.   Earlham or Nether Earlham Cross, (possibly) on Dereham Road.

5.   Needham Cross, on St. Stephens Road.

6.   Our Lady's or Malkeny's Cross, (possibly) on Grove Road.

7.   Carrow Cross, in Bracondale.

8.   Trowse Bridge Cross.

9.   Thorpe Cross, in Harvey Lane.

10.  Magdalen or Sprowston Cross, on Sprowston Road.

11.  Catton Cross, on St. Clement's Hill.


As the 'Atlas of Historic Towns' says, "Late medieval Norwich can hardly be said to have had a settled boundary".2 Continual disputes, enlargement of the city, contradictory documents with vague topographical information - all contribute to uncertainty over exactly where the boundary lay at any specific period. The Second Charter of Henry IV dating from 1403/43 established the County of the City of Norwich, pulling in various lands that had previously been part of the county of Norfolk, but failing to define the boundaries. Afterwards the city officials tried to pull in even more, but without success. Expansion was considerable to the north and north-west, but on the southern side the boundary was closer to the city, apparently running along what is now the A1074, then curving along the route of the A147. The 1556 Charter of Philip and Mary4 defined the bounds to a much greater extent, and in greater detail. The crosses standing (or possibly standing) on the boundaries at the time of these two charters are the ones to now be examined. Unfortunately the paucity of references to the earlier crosses makes them somewhat harder to locate than those on the later boundary.


1. NRO: NCR 17b/1

2. Prof. James Campbell: 'Norwich' in 'The Atlas of Historic Towns, Vol. 2' (Scolar Press & Historic Towns Trust, 1975), p.23.

3. NRO: NCR 17a-b

4. NRO: BOL 3/77, 741X3


St. Faith's Cross, or the White Cross

(Documented record of cross)


Date of visit: 8/4/19.

The 1556 charter details the boundary running "by a certain green way leading directly to a certain parcell of land upon which a certain Cross called le Whyte Crosse was formerly constructed standing in the King's way leading from our said City of Norwich to Horsham St. Faith".1 Elsewhere called St. Faith's Cross, it almost certainly stood on the little triangle formed where the Aylsham Road forked, one road going to Horsham, the other heading towards Drayton (c.TG21761156.) The area has been known for centuries as Mile Cross - though no one is quite sure why - and used to be a part of Hellesdon.


Although the original medieval cross has gone, a replacement for it was supposedly erected in the 18th century, which stayed in position until 1927. In that year the Boundary Inn was built, and the cross - apparently once 4.2m tall - moved to a spot in front of it, just outside the Hellesdon parish limits. It closely resembled the two crosses still standing in Hellesdon, and like them was 'restored' in 1902. Unfortunately it was struck by a vehicle in the 1950s, and all that remains is the base or plinth. (See photo top left.) It measures 67cm square and 61cm high, the top rounded off with a capping of concrete. This now stands next to the door of the Boundary Inn, at TG2175111529. A plaque on it wrongly states that it's the base of the 15th century cross.


The picture bottom left is by George Plunkett, taken in 1937, reproduced here with thanks. Every part of the cross shown dates from the restoration of 1902, apart from the lower 1.5m of the shaft. That part was said to be 'original' - although whether it was 15th or 18th century is open to question. The idea that there was a Georgian replacement seems to have arisen solely from the date '1732' having been "scratched" on the east face of the shaft, as recorded by a field investigator before its destruction.


An account gathered by Kirkpatrick apparently says that one of the boundary crosses was "against St. Augustine's" - referring to the Gate. Prof. Campbell in the 'Atlas' says that it was "perhaps" the White Cross, while Cozens-Hardy says it "seems to be" the same one. If so, the word 'against' seems to be inappropriate here, as the sites of the Gate and the cross are well over a mile apart. Cozens-Hardy also suggests that it "may" be one of the crosses mentioned by William Worcestre as being outside the Gate - but Worcestre's curious measurements make that impossible to verify. I would think it unlikely however, as one of those was of marble, and the other of timber.


1. William Hudson & John C. Tingey: 'The Records of the City of Norwich' (Corporation of the City of Norwich, 1906), Vol.1, p.46.

Hellesdon Cross

(Complete but restored cross)


Date of visit: 8/4/19.

This cross is now just on the Hellesdon side of the boundary with Norwich, but that may be because it was moved when the road was widened in 1960, and again in 1982 when the crossroads here was massively enlarged. It stands on the pavement on the north side of the Drayton Road/Boundary Road junction (TG2072511052.) Cozens-Hardy, who got his information from the medieval manuscripts quoted in Kirkpatrick,1 says that "Hellesdon cross was in the highway towards Hellesdon without the Coslany Gates." 'Without' (outside) is certainly correct, but the Gates were actually 1 miles away.


Only the lower 1.46m of the shaft is possibly of the 15th century. The socket stone, capital, iron cross, plinth and top 68cm of the shaft date from a restoration in 1902. The plinth is 68cm square and 51cm high, of dressed flint with stone corner blocks. Complete with stop-angles as usual, the modern socket stone is also 68cm square, but 38cm high. The octagonal shaft, 30cm square at the bottom, tapers upwards to its full height of 2.14m. The overall height of the structure is 3.93m.


The original pedestal and lower part of the shaft were evidently known as 'Stump Cross' by the early 19th century, as plot 47 on the 1839 tithe award was a 'Close' of that name.2 This was a long field that ran SSW from the crossroads.


1. William Hudson (ed.): 'The Streets and Lanes of Norwich: A Memoir by John Kirkpatrick' (Norfolk & Norwich Archaeological Society, 1889.)

2. NRO: PD 700/193

St. Mary's church, Hellesdon

(Complete but restored cross)


Date of visit: 19/10/18.

The current Norwich municipal boundary traverses diagonally through Hellesdon churchyard, south of both St. Mary's church and the cross. The latter stands about 12m north-east of the church at TG2006710631. Unlike the other boundary crosses, it seems to be an anomaly, as there is no record of this one in old documents.


Blomefield1 mentions that "in the churchyard stands an old cross" - although he gives no better location or description. Walter Rye in 1917 wrote "There is in the churchyard the shaft of an old cross which is said to mark the city boundary between the city and the county. How it comes to be in the churchyard, the Church being admittedly in the county, I cannot understand, but possibly it was re-erected, like the cross at Westwick [near North Walsham], on a site not originally its own. It was 'restored', in very doubtful taste, in 1902, and a new top and cross added to it, as appears by a metal tablet affixed to it".2


That tablet has now gone, though the rivets that attached it remain on the west face of the pedestal. The 1902 restoration is supposed to have added only a base, capital and stone cross head - but I have my doubts about the shaft. Even if it was 'cleaned up' during the restoration, I find the lack of weathering remarkable for a medieval cross. Cozens-Hardy made the odd statement that "Six feet of the shaft are original, but not necessarily medieval." I've carefully examined each face of the shaft, and there is nothing to indicate that it's not one solid piece, but he at least also seems to have doubted its age.


The base or plinth is made of dressed flint set in cement, and measures 70cm square, 40cm high. The socket stone, complete with stop-angles, is 66cm square and 42cm high, and on the surface appears to be medieval in date. Unlike the shafts on the other two Hellesdon crosses which are/were both octagonal, here the 2.95m upright is square all the way up, but tapering, 30cm x 30cm at the bottom, and with incised vertical lines at each corner. A simple cross sits on top of the modern square capital. The overall height I make to be 3.86m.


Cozens-Hardy mentions that the east face of the shaft has carved upon it 'W. H. 1803 NORh', adding "but this, I think, has nothing to do with the history of the cross." He fails to mention that on the west face is incised 'S. M. 1803', and on the north face 'I. H.' or possibly 'J. H.' (There is also a large 'T' carved on the east face of the pedestal.) These have all been carefully and artfully chiselled into the stone with precision, as opposed to the '1732' date once "scratched" onto the White Cross.


Although church and cross are currently just north of the boundary, within Hellesdon parish and the county of Norfolk - as they were in Walter Rye's time - Faden's map of 1797 shows St Mary's south of the line, in the County of the City. By the time of the 1st edition OS 1" map in 1836-8, the modern status had been established, with the boundary shown dipping south of the church. Unlike Cozens-Hardy, I don't think the 1803 dates carved on the cross are unconnected with its history. My theory (at the moment) is this: that while the socket stone may well be medieval in date, it could originally have been part of a simple churchyard cross, as recorded by Blomefield. The shaft may have been added in 1803, repurposing the cross at a time when the boundary was in flux. By the time of its restoration a century later, the assumption perhaps was made that it had always been a boundary cross. This would explain its absence from any early documentary sources.


1. Blomefield, Vol.10 (1809), p.431.

2. Walter Rye: 'History of the Parish of Hellesdon' (1917), p.136.

Earlham or Nether Earlham Cross

(Documented record of cross)


Apart from noting the existence of "Nether Erlam cross" from Kirkpatrick's manuscript sources, Cozens-Hardy is silent on this one. In the 'Book of Pleas' in 14291 there is mention of "Erlham cross, and nether Erlham-street", but nothing to confirm that it was on the 15th century boundary, contrary to Prof. Campbell's conclusions in the 'Atlas'.2 He otherwise rightly says "the boundary immediately to the west of the city is very obscure".


He considers that 'Erlham cross' and 'Nether Erlam cross' are probably the same object, and he may well be correct. Unfortunately he also equates it with the "certain cross" that was "situated in the middle of the high way outside the gates of Westwyk towards the common watering commonly called Nether Erlham Watteryng." I've given my reasoning against this in the last entry in the 'City and County' section above (here.)


In order to reach Hellesdon, the boundary must have struck out westward from the city walls. Campbell conjectures that it followed the Dereham Road, and that the cross may have been somewhere along it, possibly at around TG19390956, where Marl Pit Lane and Larkman Lane form a crossroads with it. Here the old parish boundaries of Earlham and Heigham met. Or, he adds, it may have been 'somewhat' to the east of that spot.


Certainly the Dereham Road headed towards Nether Earlham, which seems to have centred on the land between the road and the river Wensum in the north of the parish. This is evidenced by such grants as one in 1452 of "three acres of meadow in Nether Erleham, between the Queen's Brook and the highway, abutting on the common".3 Or one dated 1563, of "alder carr in Nether Erlhham, between the river bank of Heylesdon and the high road".4 'Nether Erlham-street' could be the present Hellesdon Road, which branches from Dereham Road as it approaches the river. The 'Watteryng' was probably the water meadows near Hellesdon Bridge (and not on the north side of Earlham Bridge as Walter Rye curiously supposed.5)


Earlham Cross may well have been at Campbell's suggested location, but once the unhelpful passage from the 'Book of Pleas' and the misidentified cross outside Westwick Gates are eliminated from the evidence, it has to remain very speculative.


1. NRO: NCR 17b/5; f.55-58r

2. Prof. James Campbell: 'Norwich in 'The Atlas of Historic Towns, Vol. 2' (Scolar Press & Historic Towns Trust, 1975), p.23.

3. Walter Rye: 'History of the Parish of Earlham' (1917), p.69.

4. Ibid, p.72.

5. Ibid, p.54, 56.

Needham Cross

(Documented record of cross)


Again from Kirkpatrick's ancient sources comes the information that this cross was "right south of the towne agenst Nedeham Houses." This could only mean that it was just outside Needham or St. Stephen's Gates. Today, the site of those gates is at the northern edge of the roundabout where St. Stephens Road and St. Stephens Street meet Chapel Field Road and Queens Road (the A147/A11 junction.) 'Nedeham Houses' almost certainly refers to the chapel and houses forming St. Stephen's hospital for lepers, which was in existence before 1315.


For some reason, Cozens-Hardy thought that this placed Needham Cross near the drinking fountain that used to be, until 1967, at the junction of Newmarket Road and Ipswich Road (TG22610773.) This, however, was nearly 250m south-west of the hospital site. A more likely scenario is that it stood beside St. Stephen's Road close to the leper houses, perhaps at about TG22740794, near the present 'Trowel and Hammer' pub. A passage dating to 14531 from the 'Old Free Book' - "One Aldermanry which is called the Aldermanry of Nedham the bounds of which are the precinct of the parish of St. Stephen to the cross" - leads to the suggestion in the 'Atlas' that the cross had to be on the western edge of the parish in order for the 1404 boundary to pass through both this and Earlham Cross. And indeed, the old parish line ran straight down the middle of St. Stephen's Road.


1. William Hudson & John C. Tingey: 'The Records of the City of Norwich' (Corporation of the City of Norwich, 1906), Vol.1, p.131.

Our Lady's or Malkeny's Cross

(Documented record of cross)


Our Lady's or Malkeny's Cross. The location of this cross - also recorded as Malkenny's - is one of the least certain on the 1404 boundary. Prof. Campbell in the  'Atlas' based his proposal on the sources cited by Kirkpatrick, and on Cozens-Hardy's suggestion that it lay "probably somewhere between Hall Road and Grove Road." In order for the boundary to pass through both this and the following crosses, it may have stood at about TG22880769, which is the junction of Grove Road and Southwell Road.1 The name may be a corruption of 'Malkyn', a man who owned a house and land in the area in 1290.


Campbell further assumed that this was the same cross referenced in a perambulation of the bounds in 1518-19: "all the londs from the Towne Dyche to a Cross standyng yn the seid hye wey to Lakenham".2 Personally, I feel that this description may be more applicable to Carrow Cross.


1. Prof. James Campbell: 'Norwich' in 'The Atlas of Historic Towns, Vol. 2' (Scolar Press & Historic Towns Trust, 1975), p.23.

2. W.C. Ewing: 'Remarks on the Boundary of the City and Hamlets of Norwich' in 'Norfolk Archaeology' Vol.2 (1849), p.8.

Carrow Cross

(Documented record of cross)


Carrow Cross. The earliest reference I could find to this cross is in the records of the Dean and Chapter of Norwich Cathedral, dating to about 1420. One of many disputes over jurisdiction between the Cathedral and Carrow Abbey mentions "road from Ber Street gate to its conjunction with road from Conesford gate at which conjunction there was an ancient stone cross to which the citizens of Norwich have liberty in the road for the following and bringing back of fugitives from the city with toll".1 This is the same location where the medieval stocks used to stand, at TG23990735, the junction of King Street and Bracondale in Lakenham.


According to Blomefield, "In 1452, Rob. Blickling, Esq. of Norwich, was buried in Carrow abbey church, and ordered that the cross near Cowhawe in Lakenham, between the city and Hereford [Harford] bridges, should be well repaired at his cost, in honour of Christ was crucified".2 Blomefield later repeats this with an addition: "and in honour of the crucifix, he [Blickling] ordered the cross between Carhoe, Lakenham, &c. to be rebuilt, the foundation of which may still be seen at the cross-ways between Norwich and Trowse Millgate".3 It may have been visible in the 18th century, but on the modern streets of the city, there's now no trace. (In the Middle Ages 'Carrow' had many alternate spellings, Carhoe, Carhowe and Carehowe among them - I suspect that 'Cowhawe' was just another local variant, as the cross stood right next to the abbey.)


1. NRO: DCN 88/12-13

2. Blomefield: Vol.4 (1806), p.522.

3. Ibid, p.526.

Trowse Bridge Cross

(Documented record of cross)


As the name suggests, this cross stood "in ye myddes of Trous brigge" (TG24440696.) And as Blomefield says, "the county of Norfolk, and liberty of Norwich, was divided by a tall stone cross which stood on Trowse-bridge, and is lately taken down".1


1. Blomefield: Vol.4 (1806), p.524.

Thorpe Cross

(Documented record of cross)


Thorpe Cross stood on the boundary with Thorpe St. Andrew, on what is now Harvey Lane, at its crossing with a lost medieval road called 'Yermouthe Way' (TG25360893.) This is recorded in an Episcopal charter of 1461.1 A perambulation of the City boundary during the reign of Edward VI (1537-53) also mentions it: "a certain Cross standing near the wood called Thorp Wood, in a certain way leading from Norwich to Possewik [Postwick], upon the hill called Seynt Lennard's Hill." Harvey Lane was at that time the eastern edge of Thorpe Wood, although it may have stretched up to a mile further east in the 13th century.


1. NRO: NCR 9a/3

2. W.C. Ewing: 'Remarks on the Boundary of the City and Hamlets of Norwich' in 'Norfolk Archaeology' Vol.2 (1849), p.5.

Magdalen or Sprowston Cross

(Documented record of cross)

  Also on the boundary perambulation cited above was "a certain Cross standing in the King's way towards Sprowston, to the North of the Chapel of the Hospital of St. Marie Magdalene." It probably stood in the area of TG237107, on Sprowston Road, a little south of the junction with Wall Road.
Catton Cross

(Documented record of cross)


The same 16th century perambulation went by way of the White Cross "from thence, by a circuit to a certain Cross standing in the King's way towards Catton". This would have been where the boundary in both 1404 and 1556 crossed the road heading north from Magdalen Gate. That places it at the junction of Elm Grove Lane with St. Clements Hill (TG23181079.)


A mile to the north, in Church Street, is the 16th century Manor Hall in the parish of Old Catton (TG23001232.) Speaking of the Hall, Tom Martin in about 1730 called it "a House near the Stocks where remains also the base of a cross".1 Although nothing of it seems to have survived, I suspect that this may have been all that was left of Catton Cross.


1. Walter Rye: 'History of the Parish of Catton' (1919), p.235.


O - R  

Back to Contents