Like many wayside crosses, Tailor’s Cross has more than one name. It’s also called Maiden’s Cross and unsurprisingly, Foulridge Cross. At first glance, it may look fairly unassuming, dwarfed as it is by the Foulridge War Memorial it stands alongside. However, it was once much taller and is very old indeed, dating from the Norman era of the 1100s.
Made from millstone grit and heavily weathered, close examination does reveal some interesting features. It is a ring headed cross, with a flat central disc. The disc has a small hole drilled someway into it, and the arms were once separated from the ring by a carved groove. Most intriguingly, on the face side just off centre to the left is a pair of carved shears. These overlie the lower arm. Shears are a common symbol on 12th and 13th century grave slabs. What they mean is open to interpretation- sometimes they are found on the grave of a woman, or possibly on the grave of a sheep farmer.
This cross is quite unlike others in Lancashire, and its nearest relative is a Norman one at Stanground in Huntingdonshire. The Stanground cross, and our own one at Foulridge are dated to the 12th century by Professor Richard Bailey in his huge and comprehensive review of Lancashire sculpture. That cross, like ours, has the two unusual ‘shoulders’ sticking out below the ring head. Other sources give a later 13th century date to the Foulridge cross, but Bailey is the expert in these matters.
The cross was first described in detail in 1900 by Henry Taylor, who went on to publish a book featuring all the crosses and holy wells of Lancashire. In Taylor’s time the cross was much taller than the 43 inches we see today. He states ” the full height of the stone is about 6 feet, four feet showing above the grass. Mr. Marquis of Colne, on digging found the cross is socketal to an oval stone pedestal, 12 inches thick, 4 feet long and 3 feet wide.” The whereabouts of the large stone socket is not now known.
The cross has also been moved over time. Henry Taylor describes it as standing ” on a little hill, by the roadside about one mile north of Colne Parish Church”. Foulridge Parish Council’s website says that it stood beside Kirk Bridge (in between Foulridge Lower and Upper Resevoirs). Today it stands at the Foulridge War Memorial, in a paved area with seating, set apart from the busy nearby road.
So what of its name, Tailor’s Cross ? This comes from the local folklore that a tailor of Foulridge, refused to make uniforms for Oliver Cromwell’s men. His punishment was to be sentenced to death and scissors carved on the stone as a warning to others. However, the carving predates the civil war by five hundred years- so no truth there !
The second folklore tale associated with the cross has the Royalists as the villains. The story states that the name ‘Maiden’s Cross’ was given because Margaret Burnard (or Barnard) waited there every evening for her fiancée Robert to return from the civil war. He was killed at the Battle of Marston Moor, but she refused to believe this and carried on her vigil, in vain. Royalist soldiers killed the unfortunate woman, and she was buried where the cross stood. There are lots of Maiden’s Crosses in Britain, and again the story was probably just made up to explain this name.
Leave the cross and head up Skipton New Road a short distance. Turn left onto Causeway, right onto Barnoldswick Road and finally right onto Towngate. Here is Low Well, which is a restored local well. Consisting of two large hand chiseled troughs and a pump, there is blue plaque on it that says: “For years this was the main water supply to the village. In the twentieth century the flow dried up. To celebrate the millennium the parish council reinstated the well with a recycling pump. Therefore this is NOT DRINKING WATER”. On our visit the water had an inky black appearance- but whether this was its natural state, or just due to the overcast nature of the day, we couldn’t tell.
Parking and Access: Both sites are open access and can be visited at any time. Café Cargo at Foulridge Wharf has a large car park, so do go in to it and treat yourself while you are there.
Nearby, just a short walk away: Foulridge Wharf and Lime Kiln
Corpus of Anglo-Saxon Stone Sculpture, Volume IX, Cheshire and Lancashire, Richard N. Bailey, 2010, British Academy, Oxford University Press
English Heritage website: http://www.pastscape.org.uk/hob.aspx?hob_id=45458 Tailors Cross (accessed 25/11/14)
Henry Taylor, The Ancient Crosses and Holy Wells of Lancashire: Volume III Blackburn Hundred, A.J. Noble, (2004) North West Catholic History Society
Foulridge Parish Council Website http://www.foulridgeparishcouncil.org.uk/history
Foulridge Beating the Bounds leaflet, Pendle Borough Council and Foulridge Parish Council
Medieval Cross Slabs and Coffin Lids in North Lancashire, Margaret Edwards, pdf, (accessed 27/11/14) available from: http://www.archaeologyuk.org/lahs/Contrebis/5_1_Edwards.pdf