The Cross at Whitecross

There is an area of Hereford known as Whitecross, named after the cross standing in the middle of the roundabout where two main routes into the city converge. I passed the cross during my stroll during the blizzard mentioned in a previous post; Snow! In Hereford!Photo of Whitecross

Originally known as the Whitefriars Cross, after the religious order, it was erected in the 14th Century. The hexagonal base is still the original, made of local sandstone, whereas the cross itself was restored in 1864. It required further repairs in 2005 after a car crashed into it.Photo of Whitecross

The base consists of eight steps, one of which is below ground level, a pedestal and socket stone. The pedestal has six recessed panels which were decorated and include the coats of arms of the Charleton family. It is topped by a foliated Latin cross. Lewis de Charleton was the Bishop of Hereford 1361-9 and it was he who instigated the erection of the cross.Photo of Whitecross

The purpose of the standing cross was to mark the position of a market place that was set up during the second outbreak of plague when people were too afraid to enter the City. Items brought out of the City were dipped in large resevoirs of vinegar kept on either side of the cross to disinfect them. Also coins were left in the vinegar vats to pay for food that had been brought to the outskirts of the City from the countryside. This second outbreak of plague reduced the population of Hereford from 3,000 to just over 1,000.Photo of Whitecross

The second plague pandemic is better known as The Black Death, it reached England in 1360, lasted for three years and killed approximately 800,000 people, around 20% of the population. It was a pneumonic plague caused by Yersinia pestis bacteria. During the first outbreak in 1349 the relics of St Thomas Cantilupe were taken from Hereford Cathedral and paraded around the City in an unsuccessful attempt to thwart the outbreak.Photo of Whitecross

8 thoughts on “The Cross at Whitecross

  1. Pingback: Blackfriars Cross | rambling ratz

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