Sandbach Crosses

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Sandbach Crosses
Sandbach crosses.jpg
Sandbach Crosses
Coordinates53°08′38″N 2°21′44″W / 53.14402°N 2.36209°W / 53.14402; -2.36209Coordinates: 53°08′38″N 2°21′44″W / 53.14402°N 2.36209°W / 53.14402; -2.36209
OS grid referenceSJ 759 608
Listed Building – Grade I
Designated11 August 1950
Reference no.1159937
Designated30 November 1925
Reference no.1011144
Sandbach Crosses is located in Cheshire
Sandbach Crosses
Location in Cheshire

The Sandbach Crosses are two 9th-century stone Anglo-Saxon crosses now erected in the market place in the town of Sandbach, Cheshire, England.[1] They are unusually large and elaborate examples of the type and are recorded in the National Heritage List for England as a designated Grade I listed building,[2] and a scheduled monument.[3]


The most recent and authoritative dating places the larger cross from the early part of the 9th century, and the smaller from about the middle of that century.[4] Older theories, now outdated, included the view that they were erected to commemorate the conversion to Christianity of Peada of Mercia about 653.[5][6] Other sources date them to the 9th century.[1][2] The original site of the crosses is unknown and it is believed that they were brought to Sandbach in the Middle Ages.[2] The earliest documentary evidence is by William Smith, the Rouge-Dragon Pursuivant at Arms of Elizabeth I, who was from Nantwich. In 1585 he wrote 'two square crosses of stone, on steps, with certain images and writings thereon graven [standing] hard together.[7][8] Either after the Reformation or during the Civil War they were thrown down[2] and their parts were scattered over a wide area.[5] Larger pieces of the crosses were found as far away as Oulton and Tarporley while smaller pieces were found on various sites in Sandbach. In the early 19th century they were collected together and in 1816 were reassembled and erected under the direction of George Ormerod, the Cheshire historian.[4]

The crosses now consist of two upright columns set in sockets on a base of three stepped stones. The northern cross is the taller and has a mutilated head. The southern cross is truncated and has a mutilated head from a different cross.[2] The crosses have always been a pair and were carved by the same hand. They depict religious scenes, doll-like heads and beasts in panels, together with vine-scrolls, course interlace patterns and some dragons.[9]

In art[edit]

One of the Crosses (before restoration in 1816) appears in a watercolour by William Alexander, from which they were engraved by John Byrne and published in Britannia Depicta, Part III, Buckinghamshire and Cheshire (1810). Examples were sold at Sotheby's on 22 February 1977, and now appear in the UK's Government Art Collection.[10] Prints and engravings are also found at the Cheshire Records Office.[11]

In music[edit]

In 2011, Foden's Band commissioned their Composer in Residence, Andy Scott, to write a piece for brass band called To the Ancient Crosses, "a vigorous and rhythmic description of the Saxon stone carved crosses in Sandbach market square",[12] and dedicated to Sandbach Town Council for their support of the band.[13]

See also[edit]

Sandbach Crosses c.1903[14]
Sandbach Crosses c.1860[15]
Sandbach Crosses before 1818[16]


  1. ^ a b History of Sandbach Crosses, English Heritage, retrieved 15 May 2017
  2. ^ a b c d e Historic England, "Sandbach crosses (1159937)", National Heritage List for England, retrieved 16 August 2012
  3. ^ Historic England, "Sandbach Anglo-Saxon crosses (1011144)", National Heritage List for England, retrieved 16 August 2012
  4. ^ a b Saxon Crosses, Sandbach Town Council, retrieved 12 October 2007
  5. ^ a b Richards, Raymond (1947), Old Cheshire Churches, London: Batsford, p. 290, OCLC 719918
  6. ^ Thornber, Craig (2005), A Scrapbook of Cheshire Antiquities: Sandbach: The Saxon Crosses, retrieved 12 October 2007
  7. ^ Smith, William; Webb, William (1656). The Vale-Royall of England, or, The county palatine of Chester illustrated. London: Mr Daniel King. p. 46.
  8. ^ Hawkes, Jane (2002), The Sandbach Crosses, Four Courts Press, ISBN 1-85182-659-9, archived from the original on 17 January 2011
  9. ^ Hartwell, Clare; Hyde, Matthew; Hubbard, Edward; Pevsner, Nikolaus (2011) [1971], Cheshire, The Buildings of England, New Haven and London: Yale University Press, pp. 574–576, ISBN 978-0-300-17043-6
  10. ^ UK, London, Government Art Collection, GAC number 13086, retrieved 20 Oct 2011
  11. ^ Record, Cheshire Record Office, retrieved 14 September 2013
  12. ^ Graham, Des. Fodens Band: Patrons Choice V. National Association of Brass Band Conductors.
  13. ^ Hindmarsh, Paul (11 February 2012). "Patrons' Choice V, Foden's Band". World of Brass.
  14. ^ Coward, Thomas Alfred (1903). Picturesque Cheshire. Illustrated by Roger Oldham (1871–1916). p. 322. Retrieved 15 May 2017.
  15. ^ Knight, Charles (c. 1860). Old England: a pictorial museum of regal, ecclesiastical, municipal, baronial, and popular antiquities. p. 53. Retrieved 15 May 2017.
  16. ^ Ormerod, George (1819). The history of the county palatine and city of Chester. Lackington Ltd. p. 56. Retrieved 15 May 2017.

External links[edit]

Media related to Sandbach Crosses at Wikimedia Commons