Beside the path that runs through the churchyard, to the north of the
O/S Grid Ref: SX/70203/87550 Longitude/Latitude (Degrees+/-): -3.83825/50.67309
Map location: Click here to view map.
Purpose: War Memorial.
Size: 9 feet (2.74 metres) high. 2 feet 2 inches (0.66 metres) across the arms. The incised cross measures 11 inches (0.28 metres) high and 8 inches (0.20 metres) across the arms.
Information: During the first half of the 20th Century, the north end of the churchyard was extended to its current size. The cross, which now serves as the town’s war memorial, was assembled from the parts of two separate crosses and erected in this extension during 1928.
The head, arms and upper portion of the shaft were found built into the roadside wall at Holystreet, about ¾ mile to the west of the town. Prior to this, it is thought that it stood under a tree at the market-place, in the centre of the town, where it served the purpose of the town cross. The lower section of the shaft is relatively modern and was made to fit the rest of the cross when it was erected at its current site. This length of stone is rectangular in section and deliberately roughly hewn in order to provide a best match with the ancient cross.
The large and ornate socket stone is thought to have originally belonged to the other ancient cross from the town. This, second, cross was reported as being a very large and impressive waymarker. The last reported sighting of it was towards the end of the 19th century, by both William Crossing and G.W. Ormerod, who described it as having been discarded behind the farm buildings at Waye Barton, about ¾ mile to the south west of the town. By this time the head had been removed and both arms had been considerably shortened. It had obviously done service as a gatepost, upside down with its head in the ground, as shown by the gate hangers that were fixed into the shaft. Unfortunately, there are no recent reports of this cross being seen and it is feared that it has been lost forever.
The socket stone was discovered at Southmead House, where it was found to have been hollowed out and was in use as a granite trough. This stone is octagonal in shape and its face is slightly concave, with horizontal mouldings running around its circumference. The shaft has been placed in the centre of the socket and is held in position by a number of shaped granite blocks cemented around it. This stone measures 17 inches (0.43 metres) in height.
Below the socket stone is an octagonal plinth of two steps, on a raised and narrow octagonal area of grass. The lower step is made up of rectangular granite blocks, cemented together and topped off with granite slabs, whose rounded edges overlap the plinth. This step is 18 inches (0.46 metres) high and a plaque in the side facing the church reads as follows:
In Memory of our Heroic
The second step, at 7½ inches (0.19 metres) high, is by far the smaller of the two and is again octagonal in shape and composed of granite blocks. A small rectangular granite trough, used for growing flowers, sits on the bottom step above the plaque and there is a handily placed bench placed at the lower end of the monument.
The total height of the cross extends to a full 12 feet 6½ inches (3.82 metres) above the surrounding ground. The section of the original cross is 3 feet (0.91 metres) high and its joint with the replacement shaft can easily be seen. The incised cross is in the centre of the face on the church side of the cross. Visible signs of weathering over the years can be noticed by the head, which has been rounded almost to a point, and by the fact that the western arm is now somewhat smaller than the other.
Chagford Church, which was restored in 1865, is dedicated to St Michael the Archangel. William Crossing records that a few years after its restoration the upper portion of four granite crosses came to light, when the rood loft stairs were being cleared out. Crossing thought these crosses were put away during the middle of 16th century, when numerous alterations were being made to the church. Although I agree with Crossing over the date, my thoughts are that they were deliberately hidden away during the reign of Henry VIII, when many crosses and other religious artefacts were destroyed under his suppression of the Catholic faith. This is a very similar story to the one at Widecombe Church, where three crosses were found in the rood loft stairs and these are now on display in that church for all to see.
We would like to thank Bob Noakes for letting us use his photo of the head when it was built into the roadside wall at Holystreet.