Vanishing England eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 374 pages of information about Vanishing England.

Many causes have contributed to their disappearance.  The Puritans waged insensate war against the cross.  It was in their eyes an idol which must be destroyed.  They regarded them as popish superstitions, and objected greatly to the custom of “carrying the corse towards the church all garnished with crosses, which they set down by the way at every cross, and there all of them devoutly on their knees make prayers for the dead."[45] Iconoclastic mobs tore down the sacred symbol in blind fury.  In the summer of 1643 Parliament ordered that all crucifixes, crosses, images, and pictures should be obliterated or otherwise destroyed, and during the same year the two Houses passed a resolution for the destruction of all crosses throughout the kingdom.  They ordered Sir Robert Harlow to superintend the levelling to the ground of St. Paul’s Cross, Charing Cross, and that in Cheapside, and a contemporary print shows the populace busily engaged in tearing down the last.  Ladders are placed against the structure, workmen are busy hammering the figures, and a strong rope is attached to the actual cross on the summit and eager hands are dragging it down.  Similar scenes were enacted in many other towns, villages, and cities of England, and the wonder is that any crosses should have been left.  But a vast number did remain in order to provide further opportunities for vandalism and wanton mischief, and probably quite as many have disappeared during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries as those which were destroyed by Puritan iconoclasts.  When trade and commerce developed, and villages grew into towns, and sleepy hollows became hives of industry, the old market-places became inconveniently small, and market crosses with their usually accompanying stocks and pillories were swept away as useless obstructions to traffic.[46] Thus complaints were made with regard to the market-place at Colne.  There was no room for the coaches to turn.  Idlers congregated on the steps of the cross and interfered with the business of the place.  It was pronounced a nuisance, and in 1882 was swept away.  Manchester market cross existed until 1816, when for the sake of utility and increased space it was removed.  A stately Jacobean Proclamation cross remained at Salford until 1824.  The Preston Cross, or rather obelisk, consisting of a clustered Gothic column, thirty-one feet high, standing on a lofty pedestal which rested on three steps, was taken down by an act of vandalism in 1853.  The Covell Cross at Lancaster shared its fate, being destroyed in 1826 by the justices when they purchased the house now used as the judges’ lodgings.  A few years ago it was rebuilt as a memorial of the accession of King Edward VII.

  [45] Report of the State of Lancashire in 1590 (Chetham Society,
  Vol.  XCVI, p. 5).

  [46] Ancient Crosses of Lancashire, by Henry Taylor.

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Vanishing England from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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