Browse crosses

LocationAmongst the gravestones, about 10 yards to the east of the path leading up to the south door to the church.

O/S Grid Ref:  SX/54288/63104       Longitude/Latitude (Degrees+/-):  -4.05376/50.44963

Map location:  Click here to view map.

Purpose:  Socket stone for a churchyard cross.

Size:  The socket stone measures 3 feet 1 inch (0.94 metres) in diameter and at least 7˝ inches (0.19 metres) deep. The socket is 13˝ inches (0.34 metres) long, by 12 inches (0.31 metres) wide and 5˝ inches (0.14 metres) deep.

Information:  This socket stone is set into the ground and is laying flat between two gravestones. It has been well-worked into an octagonal shape and is in very good condition all round. As the socket does not go all the way through the stone, it is prone to filling up with rainwater.

shaugh_prior_churchyard_shaft.jpg (166362 bytes)At the steps leading up to the east gate of the church, there is a long shaped stone lying on top of the roadside wall, acting as a coping stone. It is quite possible that this is the shaft of the cross that once stood in the above socket stone as the Churchyard Cross. The stone measures 4 feet 5 inches (1.35 metres) long by 9 inches (0.23 metres) wide and 8 inches (0.20 metres) deep. The top end of the stone is square and would have been the base of the cross. The main length of the stone is chamfered on all four edges and it has been broken off at the point that would have been immediately under the arms of the  cross. There is no sign of the whereabouts of the head and arms of this cross. There is a hole in the top face of the stone, near the upper end, which is irregular in shape and is now filled with cement. There is also a shallow slot on the inside edge towards the bottom of the stone.

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.

shaugh_prior_font.jpg (76588 bytes)shaugh_prior_font_notes.jpg (90462 bytes)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.  At the time of my recent visit (2021) there was a framed sheet of printed notes resting against the font setting out the history of the font cover, a photo of which is shown to the right of these notes.

In addition to this cross parts, Shaugh Prior also has a village cross, a modern man-made cross (on the same page as the village cross) and a War Memorial Cross, which is also inside the churchyard.