In the centre of the village, in the roadside wall a few yards above the
O/S Grid Ref: SX/54433/63092 Longitude/Latitude (Degrees+/-): -4.05172/50.44956
Map location: Click here to view map.
Purpose: Either a Preaching or a Village Cross.
Size: 5 feet 7 inches (1.70 metres) tall. 2 feet 1 inch (0.64 metres) across the arms. The shaft is 13 inches (0.33 metres) wide and 10 inches (0.25 metres) deep.
Information: Both the cross and the substantial socket stone are set into the roadside wall. It will be noticed that the socket stone is not quite level, having slipped from its original position over the years. The cross was originally chamfered on all edges but, due to the extensive weathering that has taken place, this is not immediately noticeable. Close examination will reveal that the right hand arm has been reattached to the cross and that a repair to the head has also been carried out. Otherwise the cross is still in very good condition. It is obviously a very old cross and therefore may have been in use as a Preaching Cross, prior to the first church being built.
A report by Mr C. Spence Bate, in the Journal of the Plymouth Institution from the 1870’s, shows a sketch of this cross with the right hand arm completely missing. It also shows some damage to the head. It was his opinion that that the cross was dislodged by "the growth of vegetation having forced it into a reclining position". He also goes on to say that the cross was recently (during the 1870’s) restored.
In recent years a new cross has been erected at the roadside in the centre of Shaugh Prior Village. This is not a true granite cross but has been made to look authentic by covering a wire frame with wire netting and then covering it all in cement. The name of the village 'Shaugh Prior' has been highlighted across its head.
The original Shaugh Prior Church was built in the 12th century. However, this must have been demolished at some point as the current church dates from the mid-15th century. The church is dedicated to St Edward, who was crowned King of England in 975, at the tender age of 14 years. Edward the Martyr, as he became known, succeeded his father, Edgar the peaceful. His was a short reign as he was murdered at the instigation of his stepmother, Elfrida, in 978. It, perhaps, comes as no surprise the he was, himself, succeeded by his half-brother Ethelred the Unready, son of King Edgar and Elfrida. St Edward’s feast day is celebrated on March 18th.
One point of great interest inside the church is the magnificent font cover. It is made of solid oak, octagonal in shape and is about 8 to 9 feet tall. Its height is in three stages; The first two are perpendicular and the upper one is a spiral. It is topped off with the figure of a mitred bishop, in full robes giving a blessing. The font cover was removed during the restoration of the church in 1868-69 and temporarily placed in the loft of a neighbouring farmhouse for safekeeping. It wasn’t until 1878 that the Prebendary Bartholomew realised that it had not been reclaimed and replaced in the church. The then vicar, the Rev. J.B. Strother, made enquires and managed to locate it. However, it was found to be badly damaged but repairs were made and it was eventually restored to its rightful place in the church. Outside the south door of the church can be found the socket stone, and possibly the shaft, of the original Churchyard Cross.
About 1 kilometre to the north west of the village, on the road to Bickleigh, is the picturesque spot of Shaugh Bridge, over the River Plym. This is a popular tourist spot and an ideal place from which to explore the area. Right next to the car park are some remains of kilns that were used in former times for drying clay, extracted from the area. Just upstream from the bridge is the confluence of the Rivers Plym and Meavy, beside which are some old mine ruins. From the bridge it is only a short climb up to the Dewerstone and accompanying ancient earthworks, towering over the River Plym. A short distance to the west of the bridge runs the disused Plymouth to Princetown railway track. This has now been converted into a cycle route.
Our thanks go to Mark Fenlon for supplying the photo and Paul Rendell for providing the information on the new roadside cross in the village.