Save Shepton's Crumbling Cross
PUBLISHED: 15:50 20 December 2010 | UPDATED: 18:18 20 February 2013
Locals have rallied round to help restore the Shepton Mallet Market Cross, seen on our TV screens recently in Turn Back Time – the High Street, but they need your help
The ancient Market Cross in the market place in Shepton Mallet has featured prominently on our TV screens during the past autumn as a backdrop to the series Turn Back Time the High Street. For more than 500 years the cross has been at the heart of life in the town and has been well known as the image that identifies Shepton however, the cameras have highlighted that it is crumbling and in urgent need of repair. Locals led by Major General Ray Pett and Jeanette Marsh, Chairman of the Shepton Mallet Town Council, and with the help of Mrs Marie Pett, Graham Brown, the Town Clerk, Cllrs Shearn and Marvin and local historian Alan Stone, have set up an appeal to help ensure the cross stands for another 500 years.
The cross dates from 1500 and although the spire on top of the cross was remodelled in 1841, there has been no major renovation since
In its time the cross has witnessed much history. There was a skirmish during the Civil War, at which the first bloodshed in the Westcountry took place when Royalists and Parliamentarians clashed at an oath of allegiance swearing at the cross. It was twice visited by the Duke of Monmouth during his 1688 rebellion and afterwards one of the infamous Bloody Assizes of Judge Jefferies was held in the town; 12 rebels are alleged to have been hung in the marketplace and the bodies of some of these were hung from the Market Cross to deter future rebels. The cross dates from 1500 and although the spire on top of the cross was remodelled in 1841, there has been no major renovation since. It still plays its part as the backdrop for stalls at the weekly market in the town every Friday.
In December, Michael Eavis of the local Glastonbury Festivals publically launched the appeal to raise the 89,000 that it is estimated will be required for repairs and it is believed that a lot more local celebrities will be putting their support behind the fundraising efforts. Roger Saul, founder of Mulberry and owner of Sharpham Park Estate, comments, Shepton Mallet is a very special place, with one of the most important histories in the county as a working town. Through both rich and poor times the Market Cross is a symbol of that success and strife and should be preserved at all costs.
More information about the cross can be found at shepton.org and donations can be given via the website or by text to CROSS 70099* or alternatively via the Tourist Information Centre at the top of the High Street, opposite the Cenotaph, for cash donations.
Many thanks to Marie Pett and local historian Alan Stone for the information contained in this article.