Alphington's Crosses


One of the two best known village crosses has to be the Alphington Cross. It is a 13th-century cross and was described as a cross 'of the prevailing Latin shape of Devonshire crosses with a recess on the front'. It is thought that this recess could have originally housed a figure. This cross was placed to mark 'the parting of the ways' between the Parishes of Alphington, St. Thomas and Exeter. There is a crack in this cross running between the shaft and head. In 1830 a cart was accidentally driven against the Alphington Cross and the head was broken off. The Revd. Richard Ellicombe very carefully repaired the cross. In 1888 the Alphington Cross was mounted on a stone pedestal, it was moved several times, once during the two World Wars and also when major road alterations were carried out in the area.

The second well known cross in Alphington is the War Memorial.

On 26th May 1919 a Parish meeting was called 'to inaugurate a scheme for a war memorial' in the village. The meeting was attended by about 70 people and the Rector, as Chairman of the Parish Council, took the chair.

The Chairman gave a short opening speech in which he 'reminded the meeting of the ready response the Parish had made to fight in the cause of Freedom, Justice and Truth in the Great War. Alphington has reason to be very thankful that so many have returned but the memory of those who have made the Great Sacrifice, must be perpetuated.'

Many suggestions were made as to the form the memorial should take. In the end it was decided that a cross should be erected on the Green and also a tablet produced showing the names of those who died in the service of their country. A Committee was elected to go into the details of the scheme.

It was decided that the head of the memorial cross would be formed by a head of an old Devon cross that Mr T. Wippell had found while alterations had been done to his garden. An expert had told him at the time that it was a genuine old cross at least 500 years old. It was proposed to erect this old cross head on a shaft on three or four steps. Mr Herbert Read was consulted about the design and position. Fund raising then started.

This information came from a Parish magazine dated June 1919 and the following words were at the end of the article. 'No one will forget what our brave mend have done for us. England is free through their sacrifice. Nothing that we can do can be an adequate recognition of their heroism.'

It was erected in the early 1920s just after the end of the First World War. The cross actually gives the First World War dates as 1914 to 1919, this is because the Devonshire Regiment were still fighting on the Russian Front until 1919. The head of the cross was found on the corner of Mill Lane and used when the War Memorial was constructed. The original shaft that went with the old head was found in the garden of what is now Fairfax House, the shaft now leans against the church bell tower wall. It appears from old records that the old head and shaft once stood as a cross at one end of Mill Lane.

The third village cross is a 15th-century granite boundary stone situated at the top of Little John's Cross Hill. It is quite hard to find as it is actually in someone's garden and only the top is visible from the lane. Most records show that it was placed to mark the estate of the Little John family and the cross was originally positioned on the main road frontage..


Little Johns Cross
Copyright © Rowena Kirkpatrick

A record shows that farmers and villagers would select a day and gather at the Alphington Cross and the Little John Cross. They would join hands and dance around the crosses to celebrate a bountiful harvest.


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Copyright © Rowena Kirkpatrick