02 Jun 2008 • 2,715 views
A wider view of the 15th Century (1400s) Buttercross or High Cross which stands in a pedestrianised area of the City of Winchester, tucked into the corner at the junction of The Pentice and the High Street. - Here -
It's position marks the centre of the old City.
In 1770 the Cross had fallen into disrepair and was sold to a Mr Dummer, who planned to demolish it and use the stone for building. The citizens showed their objection by petitioning and rioting, they won the day and the monument was saved for the City.
The Cross was restored in 1865, by C. Scott. Some records suggest that this is when some of the figures were added, perhaps replacing those that had become worn. The lower four figures are meant to represent St John the Evangelist, which is inset top left and is the oldest figure. The others are William of Wycombe, King Alfred and Lawrence de Anne although I'm not entirely sure which is which. In niches at the top of the cross are eight figures, representing The Virgin Mary and Saints Bartholomew, John, Lawrence, Maurice, Peter, Swithun and Thomas. These figures can only be seen clearly through either binoculars or a long lens.
The Cross is now cleaned and inspected annually, by the City Council. Any necessary repairs and renovations are carried out by specialist conservators. The monument is a Listed Ancient Monument, Schedule number 303, which puts it quite early in the conservation listing programme and indicates its' importance. A newspaper article about cleaning the monument is - here -
The term "Butter Cross" is quite commonly used for either Market Crosses or High Crosses, but was never the original name of a structure. In Winchester it is where butter and dairy produce were traded - stone stays cool even on the warmest day, which was important in days before refrigeration.
During times of plague merchants would leave goods on the steps early in the morning, returning at the end of the day to collect unsold items and payment - coins were left in vinegar to prevent infection.
It's a popular meeting place even now, something that's hinted in this picture.
For a detailed image of the Cross pinnacle look - here -
Perhaps I should return soon, and earlier in the day too, when there's more likely to be a blue sky, which would not only look nicer but also help bring out the colour of the stonework..