March 8, 2010
Metheringham Market Cross
A Short History of Metheringham's Market Cross from 1800 to present day,
It is believed there has been a village cross in Metheringham for over seven centuries. This said, it is not certain as to whether the present site is the original one or whether it used to be further down the High Street near to Drury Street, which in times gone by, was the "centre" of the village. There are no specific ideas as to what the original cross would have looked like but one has to believe it would have been somewhat basic in structure.
The part of the village now known as Cross Hill has without doubt been the location of the village cross since the early part of the 17th century as it is documented that, in about 1835, a "new" cross was erected at a cost of £25.00 to replace the old one. At this location a Saturday Market was held every week until possibly the 18th / 19th century. It was known as a Butter Market as this was the main product sold and the cross became known as the "Butter Cross."
This cross stood in the village centre for over 75 years until the early 1900s when it was replaced by a brand new one.
Below is a reproduction of an article from the Lincolnshire Gazette of 26 August 1911 :-
"Metheringham was quite a centre of interest on Saturday afternoon and there was a large assembly of visitors and parishioners to witness the unveiling by Lord Londesborough, of the newly-constructed cross. Owing to the dilapidated condition of the old cross, it was, after advice had been taken as to its antiquarian interest, pulled down, and this new one erected, as a memorial of the Coronation of King George V and Queen Mary. It is handsome and durable, and forms a conspicuous feature on the site of the old one."
The ceremony on Saturday was presided over by Mr J. Scoley, Chairman of the Parish Council. The Chairman, in his opening remarks, referred to the lateness of the celebration. The committee appointed to arrange the celebration decided to make a permanent memorial to celebrate the event of 22 June 1911, and it was decided to build a new cross.
Dr Ellis explained the meaning of the old cross, saying there were similar erections in all parts of the country - some of them built in the Middle Ages.
The history of the erection of the present cross is well known. The one that preceded it had gone through neglect, partly through age. An ugly lamp was placed on top of it, and it was felt generally throughout the village that it was somewhat of a disgrace. A meeting was held to consider how best to celebrate the Coronation, and it was unanimously decided that a new cross be erected on the site of the old one. It was agreed to take expert opinion as to whether the old cross ought to be preserved, and as a result it was found that there was nothing to show that the erection was any older than 1835. As it was so dilapidated, it was decided to take it down and build an entirely new one.
Although there was no evidence that the cross was older than 1835, they were probably justified in thinking that there was such a cross there before that date, as a long time previous, the place was named Cross Hill. Naturally, there was a feeling of affection and sentimental regard for the old cross, which was known as a landmark by many of them from youth up, and it had been decided to reconstruct it close by. Lord Londesborough had generously given a piece of land, and it would be built in a recess, with steps on which the old people could sit on to look at the new one.
Lord Londesborough then unveiled the cross, and in so doing expressed his pleasure at being present at the ceremony. The cross, which was made in the workshop of Mr F. W. Baldock of Metheringham stands 16ft 9in high, is octagonal, and stood on an octagonal base in the form of steps, which was surrounded by a pavement of local stone. The ornamental cap and cross were in 15th Century Gothic style; the shaft and ornamental work being in Bath weather stone. The shaft bears a device, 'GVR' in gun metal. In the basement of the cross was placed a sealed jar containing certain articles and the following message to future generations: 'This cross is erected to the glory of God, and in commemoration of the Coronation of our sovereign Lord King George V, June 22nd, 1911. Long may he reign.'
The cost of the work, about £60, has been met by public subscription. A list of the donors, together with a copy of the Holy Bible, Lord Tennyson's works, the Times newspaper of June 22nd, picture papers, and some coins have been enclosed in the jar. When they again see the light of a far distant day, may it be the noon tide of that reign of world-wide peace that has been the cherished object of Britons under Edward VII, the peacemaker.
It is rumoured that in 1935, a local youth called Joe, climbed the cross,knocking the stone Celtic cross off the top; he was subsequently dealt with by the Police.
The "new" cross stood proudly in the centre of the village for over 30 years during which the country moved into a period of conflict but it was not to be enemy damage which saw this cross demolished but "friendly" destruction. In early January of 1945 an American army lorry lost control on the icy winter road surface, careering into the cross, demolishing it beyond repair. It is suggested the American responsible was fined £70 but as to whether this was ever paid is not known.
On 12 January 1945 an Emergency Meeting of the Parish Council decided that immediate steps should be taken to secure an estimate for the repairs to the monument. Messrs Tuttell's of Lincoln were contacted to establish whether the cross was safe and to submit an estimate for its repair. The estimate was received in time for the monthly council meeting on 30 January 1945 and it was agreed that this be immediately forwarded to the Claims Commission, pointing out that the cross was dangerous and the Council wished to demolish it pending settlement of the claim. Come the next meeting, a month later, somewhat typical, it was necessary to send a reminder to the Claims Commission as nothing had been done. Things did not move very fast during these times (what's new) and at the end of March 1946 Tuttell's advised the Parish Council that repairs to the Cross were in hand!
During August and September of 1946 work appeared to commence, then be suspended and then in May 1947 the Parish Council decided that no major changes could be carried out without first calling a public meeting. By June of 1947, in conjunction with Tuttell's, it was decided, in view of the badly damaged state of the Cross, that it would be advisable not to re-erect it and Tuttell's reported that they had a piece of stone on order to make a new plinth. Another two months later in September (how rapidly things moved) sketches of the proposed "new" cross were discussed by the Parish Council and they in turn proposed that the design should incorporate a light on the top.
By October 1947 the Parish Council appeared to be getting agitated as it was proposed that a strong letter be sent to Tuttell's urging them to make contact with Mid Lincs (Electricity) to co-operate in the installing of the proposed light. Nine months later (July 1948) the Parish Council had again to write to Tuttell's to urge the work to be completed. Then a further 12 months later the Parish Council was still requesting that a lamp be erected on the Cross. In the September of 1949 work had obviously taken place in earnest as a reporter from the Lincolnshire Echo had been invited to the Council meeting for the purpose of gathering information regarding Cross Hill.
During the eventual re-construction of the Cross the earthenware jar had been recovered from under the base. This was on display at the meeting and due to the contents being so badly decomposed it was agreed to place a new suitable container (together with the old one) under the base of the "new" Cross. In discussion it was decided that the following items would be sealed in the new container: a copy of the Lincolnshire Echo, views of Metheringham, 1949 coins from half penny, two shillings and sixpence, a scroll with present names of parish councillors and the clerk, also a few "lines" on Metheringham as it was then. It was further agreed that Mr. N. Barfield be invited to write the few lines on"Metheringham as it is today" and that Alderman G. Flintham should place the casket under the Cross along with a copy of the Bible and Prayer Book. The cost of these items came to £1-8s-3d - the coins amounting to 6/4 the bible 14/- a diary 2/5 and the scroll etc 5/6.
On 1 November 1949 a sub committee comprising of Councillors Townsend, Bentley and Parker was formed to arrange the details for the burial of the lead casket. Mr. W Gillings was requested to dig the hole on Thursday 10 November 1949 and a time of 2.00 pm was set for the ceremony of placing the casket under the Cross. This eventually saw the "new" Cross officially unveiled, just a mere 47 months after it had been knocked down.
It didn't take North Kesteven Rural District Council very long to get in on the act because, come June of 1950, they wrote to the Parish Council asking them if they owned the land which the cross stood on or if it was owned by Kesteven County Council. The Parish Council's response was that in their opinion the land was a part of the highway and suggested that they liaise with KCC for a ruling.
In April 1951 a letter from the Ministry of Works scheduled that Cross Hill be declared an Ancient Monument. In November 1957 (6 years later) the Ministry of Works sent another letter to the Parish Council stating the Cross had been placed on the Ancient Monument list. In reply, the Parish Council advised them of the alterations which had been carried out.
In March 2000 a new organization - Metheringham Area Community Leisure Association was formulated locally. Their main objective was to bring together groups / organizations with a joint interest in improving facilities in and around the area. In May 2002 MACLA advised the Parish Council that they were considering the possibility of replacing the Cross as it was looking tired. They further suggested the design should be similar to the previous Cross, erected in 1911. The Parish Council gave their backing to MACLA to pursue this, reminding them that the site was an Ancient Scheduled Monument.
The present Cross had stood for over 50 years and was looking somewhat dilapidated with the light atop constantly being damaged and now standing at an angle similar to a Chinaman's Hat. In May 2003 MACLA reported to the Parish Council that English Heritage had visited the site and had no objection to the Cross being replaced. Although a local quarry had offered to supply local limestone freely, and carve a new cross, it was felt this stone might not be suitable material.
The Parish Council suggested MACLA give further consideration to the project and present a design to them for their approval. By early 2004 ArtsNK had become involved in the "new" Cross project. They presented a brief to the Parish Council where it was proposed to invite a list of local and national artists to come up with a design. From these four artists would then be selected and asked to submit their conceptual design, each being paid £500.00 for their services. It was suggested these designs would then be put out to consultation in the village for a final selection to be made. It was agreed Lottery funding and / or Arts Council monies might be available. In October 2004 a draft document was received from ArtsNK. This the Parish Council had concerns about as there appeared to be anomalies in budgetary costing. It was also felt that local people were losing any involvement or consultation in the project.
By December 2004 the Parish Council decreed that decisions regarding "our" Village Cross should be made by the Parish Council and the parishioners. Moving into February 2005, after little information had been forthcoming, the Parish Council strongly opposed suggestion made by LCC Highway to move the cross, under a traffic calming proposal.
Two months later Development Lincolnshire (under the auspices of the LCC) wrote to the Parish Council regarding a proposed scheme and funding to improve village centres. This could in essence include the Village Cross. It was agree that the Council should work with this group towards their aim for a new Cross. Following a meeting with the group the Parish Council agreed to give their backing to the scheme. The group advised that they were applying for funding from the EU and other sources totalling £185.000.00 to improve the village environment.
A year later a meeting between the Parish Council, ArtNK and the LCC - Economical Regeneration Department proposed that community projects and workshops should be held to get the feeling of the local people on how they best wished to see the regeneration develop. These workshops were held in May 2006 with around 250 people attending. In September 2006 a follow up meeting was held reviewing all the proposals. Unfortunately only 14 parishioners attended but from the review given by the Economical Regeneration Development member the Council strongly opposed any suggestion of the Cross being removed.
At the Annual Village Meeting of 2007, a letter was read out from a parishioner who strongly believed the Village Cross must stay. The Council continued to express serious concerns about a proposed new road lay-out and in June 2007 the Parish Council circulated questionnaires around the village with questions: Remove It? Keep It? Move It? This questionnaire, in the main, came back with parishioners wanting the Cross retained, not moved, but renewed.
In discussion with the LCC representative it was identified that monies could be available to replace the Cross. By September 2007 it was agreed that the replacement Cross should be of similar design to the original one erected in 1911. The Economical Regeneration Development group was duly advised. A year later in November 2008 a scale picture of the proposed new Cross was presented to the Parish Council. They agreed with its design and also agreed that the existing base should remain (being duly professionally cleaned) and the new Cross subsequently installed.
Local stonemasons Goldholme Stone from Ancaster were contracted to carry out the work. The Cross would be manufactured from Stretton white stone. In June 2009 members were advised that the "New" Cross would be erected over the week-end of the 11/12 July 2009; this failed to take place! The work subsequently took place a month later over the week-end of 15/16 August 2009 with the "old" cross knocked down and carted away in quick time. The erection of the new cross took most of the rest of the Saturday and all of the Sunday. However the proposed cleaning of the base did not come up to the anticipated standard. Despite contacting LCC and ArtsNk expressing concerns regarding this nothing was done.
Arrangements were already in hand for the dedication and unveiling of the "new" Cross and at the eleventh hour, local company Centurian Developments Service, came to the rescue and cleaned it to perfection. The work was sponsored by MACLA who you will recall had commenced the "dream" of replacing the Cross in the design of the previous 1911 cross, way back in 2002 and a mere seven years later their dream was realized.
At Metheringham Feast on 24 October 2009 the superb new Cross was dedicated by the Venerable Tim Barker from Lincoln Cathedral. Now standing proudly in the heart of the village, may it have a long life.