Malmesbury Market Cross

Market Cross in 1840Malmesbury has a fine Market Cross thought to date from around 1490. John Leland the antiquarian to Henry VIII visited the town in 1542 and recorded the cross in these words.

Malmesbyre hath a good quik market kept every Saturday. There is a right fair and costeley peace of worke in the market-place made al of stone, and curiously voultid for poore market folks to stand dry when rayne commeth. Ther be 8 greta pillers, and 8 open arches; and the work is 8 square; one great piller in ther middle berith up the volute. The men of the towne made this peace of work in hominum memoria.

The cross stands on an eleventh century graveyard, it bears a sundial which is remarkably accurate. The south east pinnacle differs from the others.

It is not known who paid for this work or why it was built. Many markets had a cross, some more than one, so it may have been a status symbol. It has been suggested it was intended as a marker for a centre of learning.

The cross has been restored several times. Modern traffic does it no good at all- there is a pinnacle in the museum that was removed courtesy of a heavy goods vehicle.