Fulford Cross

Browse crosses

Location:  In the Dunsford Churchyard, towards the eastern end of the rear of the Church.

O/S Grid Ref:  SX/81304/89235       Longitude/Latitude (Degrees+/-):  -3.68177/50.69061

Map location:  Click here to view map.

Purpose:  Churchyard Cross to mark the grave plot of the Fulford family.

Size:  The cross is 5 feet 2 inches (1.58 metres) high and the shaft is 9 inches (0.23 metres) wide by 8 inches (0.22 metres) deep, measured at the base. The width  across the arms is 25 inches (0.64 metres). The socket stone measures 28 inches across (0.71 metres) and 12 inches (0.30 metres) high.  The plinth measures 3 feet 6 inches (1.07 metres) across and approximately 8 inches (0.20 metres) high.  In total, the top of the cross stands 6 feet 10 inches (2.08 metres) above the ground.

Information:  This cross is of the Maltese design, with the shaft and arms being chamfered on all four corners.  It sits in an octagonal base stone, fulford_bear.jpg (159294 bytes)where the top slopes down away from the shaft and there is a collar around the bottom of the shaft where it joins the socket. The plinth, of just the one step, is also octagonal and supports the whole structure.  On the eastern face of the socket stone there is a small metal plaque in the shape of a bear's head, beneath which are the words: "BEAR UP".  The cross sits in the centre of a large plot, which is approximately 30 feet (9.15 metres) square, and which is bordered by a number of granite setts let into the ground.  This marks the burial plot of the Fulford family and there are 8 smaller crosses across the top of the plot, together with 4 other headstones, marking the graves of various family members.

The Fulford family seat is at the manor house of Great Fulford, which lies about 2 miles to the north west of Dunsford Village.  The family have been traced back to living on this site continuously since the reign of King Richard I (1189-1199) and is thought to be one of the most, if not the most, ancient family in Devon who have remained at the same house throughout the centuries.  Although the family have lived on this site all the time, the present Grade 1 listed Manor House dates from the 16th century and has been refurbished in the late 17th century and remodelled in about 1800.  The word 'Great' was added to the name of the house when it was refurbished in the 17th century, to distinguish it from another property 'Little Fulford' in the parish of Shobrooke, which was also held by the Fulford family at the time.

John Fulford, a pre-15th century member of the family, married Alicia FitzUrse, daughter and co-heiress of Ralph FitzUrse of Williton in Somerset.  The coat of arms of the FitzUrse family includes the heads of three bears and it is thought that this formed the basis of the bear's head, together with the motto 'BEAR UP', being included in the Fulford family coat of arms.  One of the FitzUrse ancestors, Sir Reginald Fitzurse ( 1145-1173), was traced back to being one of the four knights who murdered Thomas Beckett in 1170.  The name 'FitzUrse' derives from the French 'Fitz' meaning 'son of' and 'Urse' from the Latin fulford_monument.jpg (127569 bytes)'Ursus' meaning bear - hence the connection with the bear's head.

Inside the Dunsford Parish Church is a large monument to Sir Thomas Fulford (1553-1610).  The sculpture portrays Sir Thomas in full armour with his wife, Ursula, lying by his side and with their seven children, 3 sons and 4 daughters, kneeling in a row above them.  Ursula was a daughter of Richard Bampfield (1526-1594), Sheriff of Devon in 1576 and ancestor of the Bampfield Baronets and Barons of Poltimore. The monument is placed in a corner of the church and on the two adjacent walls are large memorial plaques to other members of the family.