South Tawton Lychgate Cross

Browse crosses

LocationIncised into the top of the coffin stone at the South Tawton Church Lychgate.

O/S Grid Ref: SX/65302/94464       Longitude/Latitude (Degrees+/-):  -3.91010/50.73412 

Map location:  Click here to view map.

Purpose: Ornamentation to the Lychgate Coffin Stone.

Size: The cross measures 4 feet 1 inch (1.25 metres) long and 1 foot 3 inches inches (0.38 metres) across the arms. 

Information: At 4 feet 3 inches (1.30 metres), the coffin stone is only slightly longer than the cross which has been incised into its south_tawton_lychgate.jpg (134338 bytes)upper surface.  The width of the stone tapers from 17 inches (0.43 metres), at the end furthest from the church, down to 13 inches (0.33 metres) at the nearest end.  The depth of the stone measures 4 inches (0.11 metres).  The stone is supported 13 inches (0.33 metres) off the ground by two shaped stones, one at each end.  The corners of the stone have been rounded, although the edges have been left square rather than being bevelled.

Back in the days when the coffin was brought to the church by horse and cart, and more recently in a hearse, the coffin would be south_tawton_church.jpg (89048 bytes) carried up the steps of the lychgate and rested on the coffin stone prior to being lifted by the bearers and carried into church on their shoulders at the appropriate time.  This practice has now mostly been overtaken by the coffin being wheeled into the church on a tailor-made trolley.

South Tawton Church, dedicated to St Andrew, is one of a number of churches that have come together in the 'Whiddon Parishes' group, within the Diocese of Exeter.  The church was rebuilt south_tawton_sundial.jpg (125050 bytes) in the 15th/16th centuries on the base of a much older church and also underwent a major renovation towards the end of the 19th century.  The walls of the Grade 1 Listed building are mainly  south_tawton_church_house.jpg (147918 bytes)built of granite ashlar with a slate roof.  The front of the church tower has a clock showing the time for the benefit of the locals where, below and to one side, can still be seen its forerunner in the form of a large sundial.  The attractive thatched Tudor building standing next to the lychgate is the Church House which is open, at certain times, for the benefit of the locals for morning coffee and cream teas.


Our thanks to Chris Taylor for bringing this cross to our attention.