Radcliffe’s historic Village Cross has been rediscovered after a fortuitous chat between a local historian and a librarian.
It’s the reward for years of hard work by former Radcliffe resident Carol Kemp, who began to research her heritage after attending a family history course in 2007. She used free online resources available with Bury Library service such as Ancestry and FindMyPast, and checked through local history records held at Radcliffe Library.
Carol said: “I found out that six generations of my family, including myself, were born and lived around the locally-known Top 'O' Cross area of Radcliffe Hall - my 91 year old Mum still lives there. She had said for many years that she remembered the cross as a child - "it sat on top of a wall across from the pub" - so the thread that ran through my investigations was the same question - what happened to it?”
In her research, Carol found reference to the cross in a Radcliffe Times article in 1938. This cited Robert Muschamp, a local historian who in 1887 became the museum’s honorary deputy curator of the newly formed Radcliffe & District Literary & Scientific Society, as the source of information verifying its authenticity.
The cross was donated to the town’s museum at Close House, but this was sold in 1948 and items of local historical interest were stored at Radcliffe Library pending provision of a new museum.
During one of her many visits to Radcliffe Library, Carol had a conversation with staff member Julie Taylor. This led to a connection between her research and the actual stone cross, which had actually lain in the basement at the library for many years.
Dr Mike Nevell of Salford University, who is also involved in the Radcliffe Tower Project (http://www.radcliffeheritage.co.uk/), was consulted and verified that the cross dated around the 15th century and is possibly part of a much larger structure. He said: “Crosses of this type ceased to be erected after the Reformation and the tooling marks of the cross suggest it was made using an old mediaeval method.”
A display of the Radcliffe Tower Project is currently on display at Radcliffe Library, and people are being asked for any information or photos they may have on this area by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.
Radcliffe councillor Jane Lewis, Bury Council’s cabinet member for leisure, tourism and culture, said: “This is a marvellous rediscovery of an ancient piece of Radcliffe’s history, and it’s thanks to Carol’s many years of diligent research. The timing couldn’t be better, as we have just completed the Big Dig in Radcliffe and are compiling all the evidence to bring Radcliffe’s history back into the light for generations to come to enjoy.”
She added: “In the short term, the cross will be put on display in Radcliffe Library while we look at the best permanent location in Radcliffe for it.”
Press release issued: 4 February 2014.
Picture attached: The historic Radcliffe Village Cross.