Buttercross, Winchester

Wincehster City Cross
Postmarked 1916
Publisher: The Photochrom Co. Itd, London & Tunbridge Wells

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The Butter Cross of Winchester is a Holy Cross, dating back to the mid C14th, it is thought it may have been a gift of Cardinal Beaufort who was Bishop of Winchester from 1404 – 1447. It may well have replaced a much earlier cross associated with the monastic buildings and the Old Minster. The earlier crosses were often carved with quite complex iconography and richly painted. Certainly the C15th Butter Cross is replete with figures. There are twelve of them, the Blessed Virgin and a plethora of saints, Bartholemew,Peter, Swithun, John, Lawrence, Maurice and Thomas. Later figures added are those of William of Wykeham, Lawrence de Anne, King Alfred and the oldest either representing St John the Evangelist or St Amphibalus.
Hampshire History

The High Cross. Also known as the City or Butter Cross. Dated as early 15th Century the monument was restored by G. G. Scott in 1865. It is described as a tall many-pinnacled cross on a stepped plinth with five octagonal steps. It was once used by countrymen to sell produce, hence the name Butter Cross. In 1770 it was sold off by the Paving Commissioners to a Mr Dummer. When he tried to remove it, the citizens of Winchester organised a small riot and preserved the monument for the City. . . . There are now twelve figures on the monument. Each face of the monument has a large figure about half way up, surmounted by two smaller figures in niches. The eight figures at high level represent, The Blessed Virgin, and the Saints Bartholomew, John, Lawrence, Maurice, Peter, Swithun, and Thomas. Of the four large figures, three are relatively new. According to records at The Historic Resources Centre the figures are representations of William of Wykeham, Lawrence de Anne (An early Mayor of Winchester), Aelfred the Great, and the oldest statue (Facing the nearby building) is of St John the Evangelist. There are, however, records that also indicate that this figure may be of St Amphibalus. St Amphibalus was one of the first British Martyrs (Died 25th June AD 304) and Winchester Cathedral was under his patronage before it was dedicated to St Swithun, so there is some connection to support this hypothesis.
City of Winchester

A buttercross, also known as butter cross or butter market, is a type of market cross associated with English market towns and dating from medieval times. Its name originates from the fact that they were located at the market place, where people from neighbouring villages would gather to buy locally produced butter, milk and eggs. The fresh produce was laid out and displayed on the circular stepped bases of the cross.

Market Cross, Malmesbury

Market Cross, Malmesbury
Publisher: Shurey’s Publications (1903-1927)
On back: This beautiful Series of Fine Art Post Cards is supplied free exclusively by Shurey’s Publications. The Publications are obtainable throughout Great Britain, the Colonies and Foreign Countries.”

In the centre of the town stands the Market Cross. Market crosses were used to mark a market square in market towns, since permission to hold markets was within the gift of the monarch. They arose out of the traditions of early medieval ‘Insular art’, that is the distinctive art forms that developed in the British Isles following the departure of the Romans. The tradition of elaborately carved free-standing crosses goes back to the 7th century.
Cotswold Journeys

The market cross stands in the centre of the town, at the north end of the High Street. It was built c.1490, possibly using limestone salvaged from the recently ruined part of Malmesbury Abbey, which then began just across the market square from the cross. An elaborately carved octagonal structure of the Perpendicular Period, it is recognised as one of the best preserved of its kind in England, and was made a Grade I listed building in 1949. A carving in relief of the Crucifixion and figures of several saints have survived the Reformation on the open lantern, although the lower niches for figures are now empty. Inside there is a lierne vaulted roof with carved bosses, springing from a central column with stone seating around it. There is a low wall or bench across all the outside arches except two. The building is over 40 ft. high, and today is nicknamed “the Birdcage”, because of its appearance, and still serves to shelter market traders by day and as a meeting point at night.

It was described by John Leland, who visited Malmesbury in 1542, as follows: Malmesbyri hath a good quik {lively} market kept every Saturday. There is a right fair and costeley peace of worke in the market place made all of stone and curiusly voultid for poore market folkes to stande dry when rayne cummith. Ther be 8 great pillers and 8 open arches: and the work is 8 square: one great piller in the midle berith up the voulte. The men of the toun made this peace of work in hominum memoria {within living memory}.