Consecration crosses can be seen in a number of medieval places of worship, including those belonging to the Churches Conservation Trust. Usually painted on the interior walls of a church, these white discs with a red cross in the centre signified to the congregation that the building was a sacred place, set apart from the rest of the world. Drawing on surviving examples from across the country, this presentation will explore the variety of consecration crosses. It will consider the concepts and rituals that lay behind these markers of holiness and the implications that this had for how medieval churches were regarded and used. The sanctity of places of worship was challenged and rejected during the course of the English Reformation. Amidst the reordering of churches in accordance with the new Protestant aesthetic many consecration crosses, together with wall paintings, disappeared under layers of whitewash. Those that remain serve as a visible reminder of the attitudes and beliefs of patrons, congregations, as well as the ecclesiastical establishment, of the sanctity and significance of these church buildings from time of their foundation.
Andrew Spicer researches the impact of the Reformation on places of worship across early modern Europe with a particular interest in iconoclasm, church architecture, the material culture of worship and liturgical furnishings, as well as rites of consecration and sacred space. He is Professor of Early Modern European History at Oxford Brookes University and his publications include Calvinist Churches in Early Modern Europe (2007) and the edited volumes Lutheran Churches in Early Modern Europe (2012) and Parish Churches in the Early Modern World (2016).