St Martin's Collegiate Church and Medieval Standing Cross, Lowthorpe
County Council (Unitary)
East Riding of Yorkshire Council
OV079079 (507915, 460808)
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A carved sandstone medieval cross set centrally next to the east wall of St Martin's Church (TA 06 SE 20), Lowthorpe. This stone cross, which is Listed Grade II*, stands 2 metres tall with a pillar tapering from 36cm by 24cm to 25cm by 24cm capped with a Maltese cross head 48cm across. The cross appears to be set directly into the ground with no socket stone or other base visible. The cross head's central rosette is very similar in design to those on the chancel arch within the church, although the cross is reputed to be the resited market cross from Kilham, the base of which is thought to lie on Rudston village green. The cross is said to have been moved to stop people in Kilham congregating during an outbreak of plague. Scheduled.
As per the English Heritage notes, reputedly this was the Market Cross from the nearby village of Kilham, moved during an outbreak of the plague to stop people congregating.
However, local legend & stories say that it was first moved to the village of Harpham. It is said to have been carried from Harpham by a group of drunken men, whom - having wandered wide of their intended destination of Lowthorpe - dropped the cross in Ruston Parva, where it broke into two pieces. The base is still there (about 1 mile away in Ruston Parva, rather than Rudston). There is no conclusive evidence that the base is part of the original cross, even less so that it was a Market Cross as it's size is smaller than to be expected, and the head is more akin to ecclesiastical carvings.
It is situated beneath the blocked up window of St. Martin's, at the east end of the now-ruined chancel.
The Church itself was built c.1333, and was once Collegiate (one of few to survive the Reformation). It also houses a quite astonishing 14th century tomb cover depicting Sir John le Heslerton and his wife; their flowing robes covered in carved tree branches, with each one of the 13 branches ending in the carved head of a child.
Claire Richardson, 10 September 2011
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