Browse crosses

Location:  Just inside the main gate to the churchyard.

O/S Grid Ref:  SX/50907/78737       Longitude/Latitude (Degrees+/-):  -4.10760/50.58927  

Map location:  Click here to view map.

Purpose:  Village Cross

Size:  6 feet (1.82 metres) tall. 1 foot 6 inches (0.46 metres) across the arms.

Information:  Although, due to its location, this may appear to be a churchyard cross, this is not the case. The site was once an open space within the village but, in 1880, it was decided to extend the churchyard. As a result, the village cross became included within the church boundary.

On the face of it, this elegant cross looks as though it is in good condition and has been well cared for. However, all is not as it would seem. The socket stone and those used in the pedestal are probably the only original parts of the cross. It doesn’t appear as though the shaft is original, as it has been fashioned from Roborough Down stone, rather than the granite used for the socket and pedestal. Also the base of the shaft is slightly smaller than the socket, so it is quite probable that this is the shaft of another cross that has been reused. 

mary_tavy_head.jpg (187907 bytes)The
head and arms are relatively modern and were made to replace the originals, which were thought to have been lost. Since its restoration, part of the original head and arms have come to light and have now been placed on one of the steps beneath the cross.  The shaft of this piece measures 14 inches (0.36 metres) tall, by 8 inches (0.20 metres) wide and 7 inches (0.18 metres) in depth.  The distance across the shaft and the one remaining arm is 12 inches (0.30 metres) and the shaft extends to 7 inches (0.18 metres) above the top of the arm.  

The tapered shaft is square at the bottom and octagonal above. The head and arms are also octagonal but it will be noticed that these are slightly out of proportion, being rather small for the size of the shaft.  The pedestal is of three steps, composed of large rectangular blocks, that have been cemented into place. In similar style to the neighbouring Peter Tavy Village Cross, the four faces of the socket stone have been decoratively engraved in relief with a different design on each face, although I have not been able to discover the meaning of these designs.  The designs, in the order of the eastern, northern, western and southern faces are shown in the thumbnail photos below:

mary_tavy_base_east.jpg (186665 bytes) mary_tavy_base_north.jpg (190333 bytes) mary_tavy_base_west.jpg (171315 bytes) mary_tavy_base_south.jpg (166800 bytes)

crossing's_grave.jpg (141095 bytes)crossings_plaque.jpg (103934 bytes)crossings_house.jpg (160225 bytes)

Whilst visiting this cross, spare a thought for William Crossing, the doyen of Dartmoor walkers and writers. Crossing and his wife, Emma, spent the last years of their lives in Mary Tavy and were both buried in this churchyard, to the East of the church. The house that they lived in is on the A386, the main road through Mary Tavy, and now bears a plaque to commemorate its former inhabitants. The house is appropriately named ’Crossing’.


There are a couple of interesting old tombstones fixed to the church wall. The inscription from one of these, dated in 1772, reads as follows:

Here Buried were some years before
His two Wives and five Children more
One Thomas Nam'd whose Fate was Such
to lose his Life by Wrestling much
which may a warning be to all
how they into Such Pastimes fall
Elizabeth and William and
Hannah and yet Pray Understand
a second nam'd Elizabeth