Down St. Mary Cross

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Location:  In the Down St. Mary Churchyard, 12 metres west of the Church Tower. 

O/S Grid Ref:  SS/74272/04462         Longitude/Latitude (Degrees+/-):  -3.78648/50.82600

Map location:  Click here to view map.

Purpose:  Probable wayside cross.

Size: The cross is 5 feet 9 inches (1.75 metres) tall and measures 23 inches (0.58 metres) across the arms.  The shaft is 12 inches (0.30 metres) wide and 8 inches (0.20 metres) deep.  The socket stone, measured at the base, is 2 feet 3 inches (0.68 metres) square and 12 inches (0.31 metres) high.  

Information: You might be wondering at this point what a cross in the Down St. Mary Churchyard has to do with a website of Dartmoor Crosses?  Well, like so many of the Dartmoor Crosses, this one has had a very chequered history.  I first came across a reference to it when reading the book 'An down_st_mary_sketch.jpg (65886 bytes) Exploration of Dartmoor Antiquities 1892' by John Chudleigh.  On page 79 he mentions walking through Murchington where there was an old cross placed against the garden wall of the Rectory.  On the previous page, he provided a sketch of the cross, as it was then.  Prior to this, it seems as though it had been found being used as a paving stone near the village of Bow.  On the death of the vicar of Murchington, it was removed from the Rectory garden, by the Right Reverend Kestall-Cornish, rector of Down St. Mary, and re-erected in it's current position.  This would have been at some time during the period 1897 to 1909.

The shaft is square at the base and chamfered on all four edges above, as are the arms.  The arms are asymmetrical, with the southern arm having been badly damaged at some point.  Although the cross is of medieval origin, the socket is relatively modern and was probably made when the cross was moved to its current position.  The socket is square, with round chamfers on the corners and with the top being cut into an octagonal shape.

The cross has now been scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979, as being a monument of national importance.

down_st_mary2.jpg (164155 bytes)There is a second cross of medieval origin in the churchyard, which was granted the status of a Grade II Listed Building in 1989.  The socket stone and the lower 30 inches of the shaft are original and from the 15th century.  The head and upper part of the shaft were made for the cross when it was restored towards the end of the 19th century.  The cross is now 11 feet 6 inches (3.50 metres) tall and has a tapering shaft which has been chamfered on all four edges.  Immediately below the head, the shaft has a moulded cap with beads around it.  The cross head is of alisee patee style with five rosettes sunk into each face.

Our thanks to Bob Noakes for his help in locating the current position of this cross.