Headington history: Miscellaneous

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Headington Cross

Headington Cross

The above engraving by G. Hollis shows Headington Cross in 1813.
The cross has a fifteenth-century base, but the shaft has been restored.
The sundial at the top is dated 1961.

The Gentleman's Magazine for 1816, Vol. 86, pt 1, has an engraving of Headington Cross as its frontispiece, and on pp. 9–10 J.C.B (the Oxford architect John Chessell Buckler) gives the following description of the cross and the church:

The Church-yard Cross of Headington … is an elegant and perfect specimen. It stands on the South side, about midway between the entrance to the church-yard and the porch of the church. The original termination, and probably part of the shaft, or pillar, was destroyed; and at a subsequent period, the heavy and rude one, substituted on the lower part which remained. There are but few examples of the reparation, or restoration of Crosses; and very few that have escaped the hand of destruction, and retain their original character and decorations. They generally terminated with niches, containing figures of the Virgin and Child, and the Crucifixion, an ornamental Cross of stone, or a pinnacle surmounted by an Iron Cross, all of which were indiscriminately demolished. The bases, and tottering stones of broken shafts, are common in most country church-yards, and frequently in the street.

Headington Church is a small antient structure, consisting of a body and chancel, with a low, square, and well-built tower at the West end. One or two of the windows of the Church are as early as the thirteenth century; but the chief parts of the exterior are as late as the reign of Henry VIth or VIIth. The Chancel is separated from the body by an ornamented Saxon arch, which is the only feature worthy of notice in the interior.

Headington is a pleasantly situated village, between one and two miles North-east from Oxford.

This cross is made of three different layers of Jurassic Limestone:

  • The stepped base, made of up three flat plinths and a carved section below the narrow shaft, are composed of two different stones, both dug from quarries in Headington: the plinths are made up of Headington Hardstone, and the carved section below the narrow shaft is Headington Freestone.
  • The stone that makes up the shaft itself is Doulting Stone: this is older and comes from quarries in Doulting, Somerset.
  • The top of the structure (which is too high to be examined) is made of another type of limestone.

See Nina Morgan and Philip Powell, The Geology of Oxford gravestones (2015), which examines the geology of this cross in detail in the section relating to St Andrew's churchyard.

Cross by Taunt
Headington Cross by Henry Taunt in 1918

Headington Cross in 2016
Headington Cross in 2016

© Stephanie Jenkins

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