OLLERTON.— One of Mr. Howard Pile's artistic illustrations to his modern Robin Hood romance, pictures the outlaw stopping a beggar at "the Cross by Ollerton town." The latter is depicted as a quaint and elaborate erection, embellished with the Virgin and Child, etc., but it is highly questionable whether it ever existed other than in fancy.
ORDSALL.—The "Official Guide to Retford, "—undated, but issued not later than June, 1909,—incidentally alludes to a cross that "was in the churchyard at Ordsall." Methuen's "Nottinghamshire," 1910, repeats the allus'ion, but in the present tense.
ORSTON.—Methuen's "Nottinghamshire" refers to the base of a cross in the village.
PAPPLEWICK.—On Papplewick Forest, to the east of the village, a "George III. Monument" is plotted on the Ordnance Map. Probably this is not, strictly speaking, a cross, but it may well embrace one or more of the characteristics of a cross. A similar remark applies to various other erections in the county, such as the Zachariah Green memorial at Hucknall Torkard; that beside Thoresby Lake, commemorating a dual drowning tragedy in 1800; the stone marking the spot at Morton, near Babworth, where a store of Roman coins was found in 1802; and the pillar erected by Major Rooke, between Biny Hill and Fountain Dale, on what he believed to be the centre of a Roman station.
PLEASLEY.— The undermentioned cross, which was evidently in the immediate vicinity of the county boundary, might equally have stood in Notts, or in Derbyshire—it is not clear which. The Sherwood Forest perambulation of 1662 departed eastward from the course of the Meden "at Teversall Bridge, and so along unto Pleasley Millne, where stood a crosse named Robinhood's Crosse," etc. (Compare the similarly named cross mentioned by Leland on the Lincolnshire county boundary). A modern directory of Kelly's, after referring to a lapsed market at Pleasley, adds that the market-cross remains on the brow of a hill in the village. In (1897) the Derbyshire Archaeological and Natural History Society was consulted as to the best means of preserving Pleasley Cross "from further demolition."
PLUMTREE.—In the annals of early Wesleyan Methodism it is recorded that, in 1790, a local preacher named Hanley called at this village, and standing upon a large stone near the Plough public-house, preached to a few people who came to hear him." The stone referred to (which has presumably been utilised here as a horse-block), still remains in front of the rebuilt public-house, now known as the Griffin, at the cross-roads in Plumtree. This is obviously a large cross-plinth, inverted, that very likely stood near the same spot when serving its original purpose. The shaft-socket is locally said to have been formerly utilised, the right way up, as a support for the village maypole.
RADFORD, or BILBOROUGH.— On the road from Nottingham to Strelley, and a few yards beyond the tall trees marking the entrance to Aspley Hall, on the roadside, by a Nottingham boundary-mark, may be seen in the turf a hollowed square stone, measuring about 2 feet each way. It has the appearance of the plinth of an old boundary-cross, its site being at the junction of Radford and Bilborough parishes, where they jointly cross the road.
|East Retford Broad Stone.|
RETFORD.—The Beck, at Retford, is described in 1282 as a foss or ditch dividing the lordships of Retford and Little Grihgley, and as extending in length from " Est Croc Sick " to the water of Idle. The above place-name evidently means East Cross Sike (the last word signifying a watercourse or streamlet), and is said to have been applied to the land, now known as Domine Cross. Its old name would seem to imply that there was a contemporary West Cross. In 1727 a close in Domine Cross was bequeathed to the master of Retford Grammar School. However it seems clear there was a cross here, presumably a boundary-cross, at least as early as the 13th century, which would consist of plinth and shaft only. The outstanding feature of historical interest is represented by its traditional association with plague-days, presumably of the 17th century. Piercy, the Retford historian, 1828, states that "during the time the plague raged so dreadfully in this neighbourhood, the markets were held near the spot, in order that the country people might not be deterred, through fear of taking the infection, from bringing in their wares for the use of the public." The situation, an eminence by the borough boundary, conforms to the evident requirements of a neutral inter-trading ground, in times when the infection was abroad. There seems no evidence as to whether any portion of the shaft survived, or only the plinth, as at present. However that may be, we are left to infer that the intimate association of the latter, in connection with terrible times, influenced the people of Retford to remove it into the town for better preservation, at some unrecorded date, where it seems always to have been known as the Broad Stone. From the limit of the recollection of the oldest inhabitant of Piercy's time, down to the year 1818, it is related to have stood in the Market Place. At the latter date it was removed, and placed in an inverted position on a site near the centre of The Square, where the corn-market was at that time held, the square socket-hole remaining on the under side. The directory of 1832 testifies that the state of affairs then remained unchanged, but that of 1853 relates that the Broad Stone "has been removed, and a handsome cast-iron pillar, 22 feet high, bearing 5 lamps, has been erected on the site thereof, around which the corn market is held." It is however said that the older townspeople continued to call this spot "the Broad Stone" for many years after the removal of the relic. But although thus, for utilitarian reasons, displaced from the site it had occupied in the Square, the circumstance did not, as ordinarily happens, signalise the destruction of the Broad Stone. The veneration in which it seems to have been held evidently dictated its preservation, in some obscure hiding-place or other, wherefrom it once more emerged to the light of day upon the occasion of the rebuilding of the Town Hall, 1867, in front of which it was placed, elevated on a square pedestal of modern stonework. The old portion seems to consist of three stones, which however cannot well have all belonged to one cross. The uppermost stone, an inverted plinth, is evidently the Broad Stone proper. The two lower stones, or supporters, are fellows, and constitute a sort of double plinth, upon which, judging from Piercy's illustration, the Broad Stone evidently rested when formerly standing in the Square, and likewise previous to that, in the Market Place. Hence, it seems reasonable to suppose the double plinth was once a part of the unrecorded market-cross of Retford, whereon the inverted Broad Stone was accommodated at its first coming, when probably there was also a pile of steps, serving as a pedestal.
In describing the relic, Piercy says:—"Another stone, of exactly the same form and dimensions, is to be observed in the churchyard wall at West Retford, which formerly occupied a place on an elevated piece of ground near the road leading to Barnby Moor, in West Retford Field. Here, too, it is probable, a market was held, under circumstances similar to those above narrated." Piercy's view of West Retford Church reveals the position of the cross, built into the wall, and retaining an upright shaft or part of a shaft, which rears itself aloft, above the top of the wall. Writing in 1892, a local authority says: "It has recently been taken out of the wall, and placed within the ground, about two or three feet from its former resting place." The "Official Guide to Retford " (which contains a photographic illustration of the Broad Stone in its present state) enlists the two Retford crosses, together with that of Ordsall and "a fourth (that) is lost," in a questionable theory as to their former inter-relationship.
|Fragments of cross-shaft at Rolleston, Notts.|
ROLLESTON.— Shilton, 1818, says:—"in the centre of the village the ancient stone cross is now standing, having the remains of several shields carved round its base, but the armorial bearings are wholly illegible." This cross has long been pulled down, but there yet remains an almost shapeless fragment of shaft still inserted in a battered square plinth, the latter retaining faint traces of shields on its four sides.
Another, larger, and better preserved shaft and plinth, several feet in height, and probably a boundary-cross or land-mark, stands in a croft by the roadside, not many yards distant, on the left side of the way towards Newark.
A very interesting example of a Saxon built-up cross, with sculptured figures and ornament, in four sections, was recovered from the walls of Rolleston Church about 1897. It is one of the few inscribed examples, being lettered, on a panel, "Radulfus me fecit " (Radulf made me), and is now preserved in the church.
SCREVETON.— Thoroton, 1677, describes certain arms as being "upon a stone over the church door, in the porch, and upon a little stump of a stone cross, on a little hill in the highway before Mr. Whalley's gate." Mr. T. M. Blagg wrote me in 1911 that Thoroton's description is equally applicable at the present time, adding: "The little stump is still there, —octagonal if I remember rightly,—a manor boundary, I believe, half-hidden in the wayside grass, by the gate leading off to Screveton Rectory, and formerly to Kirkton Hall."
SHELFORD.— Standing on the cill of the east window of the south aisle of the church, may be seen the top section of a Saxon or early Norman Cross, which was discovered during the restoration of 1877-8, built up (as one writer declares) in a brick buttress that used to support the same aisle. On one side is sculptured the Virgin and Child, and on the other is a four-winged angel, while a third face presents interlaced ribbon-work, and the fourth has apparently been destroyed. The late Mr. Romilly Allen, a high authority on such relics, expressed special interest in their Shelford cross-shaft, "because of its intensely Scandinavian character, and the peculiar form of the nimbus round the heads of the figures, which is exactly like those on the crosses at Leeds and Nunburnholme, in Yorkshire."
In the printed "Wollaton Manuscripts" (1911), occurs the abstract of a grant of lands in the territory of Shelford, in circa 1220, which mentions "a rood at Stancrossgate, on the upper side."
SKEGBY (near Mansfield).—A deed .of 1460 refers to land "lying next the cross in the eastern field of Skegby." What is presumably the same erection also came to the surface in the Sherwood Forest perambulation of 1505, where it is described as "the cross at the eastern end of the town of Skegby." It seems to have stood at the intersection of the Skegby and Mansfield road with the old Nottingham and Bolsover road.
SOUTHWELL.—Although a market-cross probably stood here for centuries, its existence does not appear to be specifically recorded other than in the parish-register, where some half-score banns of marriages, during 1657-8, are incidentally stated to have been "published at ye Markett Crosse."
What was no doubt a different erection is indicated in a will of 1775, referring to a close in Southwell called Stone Cross Close.
STAPLEFORD.— The very fine and early pre-Norman cross at Stapleford, the only perfect example surviving in the county, is, with the possible exception of the Gothic erection at Newark, by far the most interesting of all Nottinghamshire crosses. Dating back to Anglo-Saxon or Danish times, it is thought that the column may even have served the office of a church, before a church was built, and it seems to have stood in the churchyard until comparatively modern times. "The material in which this work is wrought," said Mr. W. Stevenson, nearly 50 years ago, "is sandstone grit from the hills of Derbyshire. In height it is about ten feet, rounded in a rude manner at the lower part, and gradually worked into a square shape towards the upper part. It is divided into several stages in height by incised horizontal lines; the intervening spaces are covered with interlaced and knotted ribbon work, arranged in various geometrical devices. Upon one of the faces, towards the top, is the figure of a monstrous bird." Some years later, the Bishop of Bristol described it as "a sculptured pillar of quite unique beauty of ornament and interest of ecclesiastical tradition. It has cost me three days in three successive years to make out the intricate interlacements of its ornamentation, and it stands now revealed as a work of art as remarkable as any page of the best Hibernian MSS. of the eighth century, the Book of Kells, or the Gospel of Lindisfarne."
With respect to the history of the pillar, but little is known. Stretton states that it was "taken down by some 'wise' churchwarden in the beginning of the last (18th) century, and placed upon a flight of steps in the town street." But possibly there was an interval between the two events, for another authority says it was lying in the churchyard about the year 1760 (a third story is that it was found buried there), and that it was then adapted, as above, for the purpose of a street or village cross, possibly in connection with a pre-existing base. It was seen here by Throsby (the first writer to mention it) about 1790; and by Stretton in 1818. About 1820, it is said, the base of the cross was remodelled, the steps being converted into a cubical mass of stonework with pitched top, as at present, and a cap and ball substituted for a preexisting vane. (Perhaps the last-named year should be 1830, judging from the circumstances that the "round ball of stone" was then placed, according to the directory of 1844). In 1908 some attempt was made to have the monument removed into the churchyard, and there was considerable newspaper controversy, but the opposition prevailed. In 1909 the Notts. County Council placed around the shoulder of the pedestal a line of protective spikes.
STRELLEY.—In the garden of the second cottage (recently rebuilt) westward of Strelley schoolhouse, and to the rear of a modern drinking-fountain, the passer-by may see a large square block of stone, which Mr. S. Clements measured as 30 inches square, and 27 inches high, and which has been estimated to weigh half-a-ton, and which is evidently a reversed cross-plinth. The upper surface, as it now stands, has been hollowed out, perhaps to form a drinking-trough. Now, possibly in consequence of flaws, it is filled with soil, and flowers are grown therein. The Strelley and Bilborough parish-boundary passes through gardens in the immediate vicinity.
SUTTON-IN-ASHFIELD.— A Sutton will of 1744 mentions "a piece of land called Nue Cross," wherefrom the name of the New Cross district of this place is derived. The land lies in the neighbourhood of the intersection of the Nottingham and Bolsover road by the Mansfield and Alfreton main road.