At the eastern end of the village green, immediately outside the
O/S Grid Ref: SX/520/624 Longitude/Latitude (Degrees+/-): -4.08543/50.44229 (approx.)
Map location: Click here to view map.
Purpose: Village Cross.
Size: 8 feet 2 inches (2.49 metres) tall. 1 foot 8 inches (0.51 metres) across the arms.
Information: This decorative cross stands on a plinth of two steps, made out of substantial rectangular granite blocks. The bottom step, which is 6 feet square, is composed of four blocks in the form of a square, one block for each side. The second step has three blocks, laid side by side. The socket stone measures 15 inches (0.38 metres) high and 2 feet 1 inch (0.63 metres) square. This stone is relatively modern and has a moulding around the top edge.
The shaft and the cross are of two different ages and do not match each other. The lower part of the shaft is modern, probably of the same age as the socket stone. This portion of shaft, which is 12 inches (0.30 metres) square at its base, tapers towards the top. It is plain in design except on the face shown in the photo, where the centre of the shaft is raised in relief for the whole of its length.
The cross, together with a short length of shaft, is very different in design and is much older. This measures 2 feet 2 inches (0.66 metres) high and is chamfered on all edges. An unusual feature of the cross is that there is a shaped granite block, with decorative protrusions, set into the four angles between each of the arms and the shaft. Some of these protrusions have either been damaged or weathered away over time. I am not sure whether these blocks were purely for decoration, or were designed to give additional support to the arms of the cross. There is also a decorative collar around the shaft, immediately below the join between the two sections.
Mr Masson Phillips was of the opinion that the cross was an ancient gable cross from the Bickleigh Church. It has also been suggested that the cross was found, in 1838, when the church underwent substantial rebuilding work. This was undertaken by Sir Ralph Lopes, an ancestor of Lord Roborough. The assumption can therefore be made that the cross was set up in its current position at that time. There may well have been a preaching cross on the green prior to the original building of the church and so it is an appropriate site for the current cross.
In the old edifice of the church was a monument to memory of Nicholas Slanning, who was killed in a duel with John (later to become Sir John) Fitz, in 1599. Although in a poor state, it was dismantled by Sir Ralph Lopes when he rebuilt the church and only parts of it were able to be saved. However, prior to removing it, a drawing of the monument and a copy of the inscription were made by Revd. W.I. Coppard of Plympton.
Strictly speaking, Bickleigh is not a Dartmoor parish as it lies outside the moorland boundary. However, being so close to the moor and showing all the characteristics of a Dartmoor border village we felt that such a striking cross as this should not be excluded from our list. The village is lucky to boast two crosses as the Bickleigh War Memorial Cross is sited at the other (western) edge of the village green.