Lytham Cross, Lytham, Lancashire

Wayside Cross: OS Grid Reference – SD 3603 2718

Getting Here

Roadside position of the cross

The cross is situated in a small railed enclosure adjoining the pavement on the North side of Church Road on the west side of Lytham, opposite Lowther Gardens.

Archaeology & History

Henry Taylor (1906), author of The Ancient Crosses And Holy Wells Of Lancashire, writes:

“The old market place of Lytham is triangular in shape…Church Road leads out of it, and not far from the church the pedestal of an ancient cross was at one time to be seen. The words ‘Site of Benedictine Priory’ occur on the map close to Lytham Hall, indicating the position of this small religious house, dedicated to SS Mary and Cuthbert, and subject to Durham.”

The mediaeval base set into the pavement in 2009

Lieutenant-Colonel Fishwick writes in his History of the Parish of Lytham:

“Not far from the Parish church on the road to Blackpool is still to be seen the stone socket of a cross, and tradition says that it marks one of the resting places of the body of St. Cuthbert when carried to Durham”

All that survives of the mediaeval original is the socketed base, into which a modern carved stone cross has been inserted. A bronze plaque attached to the cross reads:  “According to ancient tradition the body of St Cuthbert about the year 882AD once rested here.”

The modern cross with its bronze plaque.

It is not known whether the destruction of the original cross was the handywork of the local ‘Cross Smasher’ Rev. Richard Wilkinson.

According to an online source, The Very Reverend Monsignor Gradley commissioned a painting by Charles E. Turner entitled: ‘The Monks of Lindisfarne arriving at Lytham with the body of St. Cuthbert, A.D. 878’, intended to be hung in St Joseph’s Seminary, Upholland.  Gradley wrote in the October 1889 edition of Merry England magazine:-

” In 875 Halfdene invaded Bernicia, the northern portion of Northumbria, . . . Lindisfarne was no longer a safe place for the monks, and they dared no longer expose their great treasure, the relics of St. Cuthbert, to the ruthless impiety of the northern hordes, With their Bishop Eardulf they set out on a weary pilgrimage of seven years.… From Yorkshire they proceeded to Lancashire, and as we find that the holy relics rested at Mellor, near Blackburn, we may suppose they would journey through Ribblesdale, passing on their way the ruined city of Bolmetonacae, the modern Ribchester. They were a numerous company, for besides the venerable Bishop Eardulf there were the Abbot of Carlisle, the monks of Lindisfarne, and many of the natives of that island. In going to Lytham it is probable the party would pass through Preston, where a few houses had gathered about the church built in honour of St. Wilfrid, the great contemporary of St. Cuthbert.

‘The Monks of Lindisfarne arriving at Lytham with the body of St. Cuthbert, A.D. 878’, by Charles E. Turner.

Their way from Preston to Lytham lay through a country abounding in forest and fen. But they would have the advantage of the old Roman road as far as Kirkham. However, the pilgrims met with a hospitable reception, and to this day Lytham is the seaside home of St. Cuthbert on our western coast.”

A small plaque on an adjacent bench records that the cross was re-dedicated by the Very Reverend Michael Sadgrove, M.A., Dean of Durham on Sunday 6th September 2009.

References:

  1. Taylor, Henry, The Ancient Crosses and Holy Wells of Lancashire, Manchester, Sherratt and Hughes, 1906.
  2. Fishwick, Lieutenant-Colonel, The History of the Parish of Lytham in the County of Lancaster, Manchester, The Chetham Society, 1907.
  3. Gradley, Most Reverend Monsignor, Article in the October 1889 edition of Merry England magazine, abstracted by http://www.amounderness.co.uk

Acknowledgements:  With thanks to Sue Ybarras for directing me to this site.

© Paul T. Hornby, The Northern Antiquarian 2017

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