Saint Patrick's Cross Liverpool

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Old Liverpool

St. Patrick's Cross is marked by a letter 'C' and a cross in this reconstructed map of Liverpool created using source material from about 1650

Thomas Baines tells us that King John encouraged the growth of Liverpool to support his interests in Ireland:-


“No member of the warlike house of Plantagenet was more eager to expand his dominions than King John, although his expeditions were badly planned, and rarely crowned with success. One of his favourite objects was to complete the Conquest of Ireland, which had been commenced in the time of his father. For this purpose it was desirable that he should possess a strong navy in the Irish Seas, and ports to shelter it on the western coast of England.”


Ramsey Muir explains why King John wanted to use a port in Lancashire rather than Cheshire:-


"John was anxious to complete the conquest of Ireland, which had begun in his father's reign; and for this purpose he wished to use the men and supplies of his Lancashire lands. But he had no convenient port of embarkation. There was no port at all in Lancashire, and Chester was too much under the control of its powerful and independent earl. In the year 1206 John travelled through Lancashire from north to south, and it was probably on this journey that his attention was caught by the convenient sheltered creek of Liverpool."


James Wallace expressed his frustration that no one had documented Liverpool's ancient structures. This lack of coverage in the surviving records makes it impossible to date most of Liverpool's crosses:-


“it appears, that a high or principle cross was at this time (1640s) standing on the spot, where the present exchange is now erected; and it is somewhat remarkable, that no writers, ancient or modern, have made any mention of it. St. Patrick's cross is noticed, and there is every reason to believe, that the principal cross, in the very centre of the town, would have been more deserving of description; it might have been a very beautiful erection, such ornaments being almost general throughout the kingdom, whereon it was usual to bestow much expense, perhaps, in compliment to the taste of Edward the first who had erected them in honour of his Queen. The town record undoubtably mentioned this cross, but it is very singular, that neither painting nor engaving has conveyed an idea of the form and sculpture of this, nor of that of St. Patrick.”


Richard Brooke tells us about the different Liverpool crosses and the markets associated with some of them:- 


“We can scarcely doubt that Liverpool had a market from about the time of its becoming a borough; but it is not known where the market was held, until after the middle of the 16th century, when it was established at the High Cross, for butcher's meat, fish, and vegetables. This cross was at the junction of the four main streets of the town, and was removed, in 1673, on the occasion of the preparations for the building of the then Exchange or Town-hall.


The general market was held for a considerable time in the vicinity of High-street, and of the Exchange; and another was established at the White Cross, little more than about a hundred yards distant, at the upper part of Chapel-street, near the place where the north entrance of the Exchange-buildings now is. The latter was, for a long time the principal market for potatoes, supplied for the most part from Formby and it's vicinity, which are considered by many, even to this day, the best in Great Britain. The place for holding the White Cross market was changed to St. John's Market, in 1822.


Another market, which afterwards became the principal one for the sale of provisions, vegetables, butter, and other articles usually sold in a market, was established early in the last century, in Derby-square, and on the south side St. George's Church, where Alderman Tarleton afterwards erected an obelisk of red stone, which was called “The Red Cross”, or “Tarleton's Obelisk”; and after its establishment, the more ancient market in the vicinity of High-street and the Exchange, became disused, except as to the butchers' shambles, which remained there many years after 1775.


At that date the only markets for general purposes were two; of which the principal was the general one already mentioned, held in Derby-square, and near St. George's Church. The other general market has also been mentioned before, and was called the White Cross Market; it was on a very small and reduced scale.”


According to Brooke's source only a portion of St. Patrick's Cross had survived by about 1775:-  


“The lower end of Tithebarn-street, between Hatton-garden and Cheapside (formerly called Dig-lane,) was then called St. Patrick's-hill; at the foot of which, and at the end of Pinfold-lane, now Vauxhall-road, stood a portion of St. Patrick's Cross. The remains of it were there three or four years after 1775 – communicated by Mr. John Wilson of Orrell, who remembered a portion of it standing. 


In former times, besides the White Cross and St. Patrick's Cross, there were two other crosses in Liverpool; one the High Cross, near where the front of the Town-hall now is, and the other the Town-end Cross, near where St. Stephen's Church, in Byrom-street now stands. St. Patrick's Cross, and the Pinfold near it, are both laid down in Mr. Perry's Map of Liverpool, of 1769.”


Brooke says St. Patrick's Cross was named in connection to proposed work to be carried out on the road to Preston:-


“the first act for repairing and widening having been passed in the year 1771, 'in the 11th George the Third, Chapter 93, An Act for repairing and widening the road from Patrick's Cross, within the town of Liverpoole, in the county palatine of Lancaster, to the town of Preston, in the same county of palatine'."