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Crosses

 

A cross stood at the main crossroads in the centre of Gloucester by the mid 13th century. (fn. 52) In 1455, when it was known as the high cross, it was depicted as a structure with an octagonal plan and two storeys, surmounted by a spire; the upper storey had crocketed niches.

 The lower storey had by then been adapted as a conduit for the water supply brought by pipes from Robins Wood Hill. (fn. 53) The cross is said variously to have been rebuilt in the reigns of Henry VII and Henry VIII. (fn. 54)

 In 1635 it was repaired and railed off at the instigation of Bishop Godfrey Goodman who gave £20 towards the cost, and it was repaired and regilded in 1694 and 1712. (fn. 55) It was depicted in 1750 as a substantial structure, rising to over 34 ft. in height, with a lower storey of blind crocketed arches, an upper storey of eight crocketed niches containing statues of sovereigns, and an elaborate top stage with castellations and pennants.

Apart from the top stage, the cross appears to have been mainly 14th-century work, though the details of the two lower storeys are difficult to reconcile with sketches made in 1455. (fn. 56)

The statues on the cross were listed c. 1710 as those of King John, Henry III and Eleanor his queen, Edward III, Richard II, Richard III, Elizabeth I, and Charles I. (fn. 57)

The original statue of the last sovereign, removed from the cross in 1650 or 1651 after some soldiers had defaced it, had been replaced by a new one at the Restoration. (fn. 58)

The choice of John, Henry III, Richard II, and Richard III was presumably dictated by the charters of liberties granted by those kings, and of Queen Eleanor by her tenure of the lordship of the borough during her widowhood.

 The cross was demolished in 1751 as part of measures taken for clearing obstructions from the streets. (fn. 59)

Other medieval crosses in the town included one with a stepped plinth which stood by St. Kyneburgh’s chapel at the south gate in 1455, (fn. 60) one recorded from the 13th century in the Island below St. Bartholomew’s Hospital, (fn. 61) and one, mentioned in 1370, marking the borough boundary in the middle of Over causeway. (fn. 62)

 The cross by St. Kyneburgh had been removed by 1551, and in 1550 or 1551 two other crosses, at Alvin gate and at one of the abbey gates, were pulled down. (fn. 63) In 1647 a cross in the cathedral close, evidently a fairly large one, was demolished. (fn. 64)

From: ‘Gloucester: Public buildings’, A History of the County of Gloucester: Volume 4: The City of Gloucester (1988), pp. 248-51. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.asp?compid=42305. Date accessed: 07 July 2007.

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