Like so much of Scarborough’s heritage, The Buttercross in Princess Square in the old town, receives little or no acknowledgement.
What is Scarborough’s only Grade 1 Listed monuments is tucked away with little or no fan-fair and certainly nothing to stir the interest of the unknowing passer-by.
Whilst Queen Victoria’s statue stands proudly but somewhat unkempt in the Town Hall gardens overlooking Scarborough south bay beach and King Richard’s House in Sandside has some passive reference to Scarborough’s history, the tall stone pillar that is all that remains of the lonely Buttercross gives little indication that it was once a proud market cross, now over 600 years old.
History of the Scarborough Buttercross
The earliest known reference to the Buttercross in Scarborough is in 1395. Its exact date of origin is not known but it is believed to have formed part of the entrance to the old Borough in the 1200s.
Doubts have been cast on its original position but it is clearly shown in the New and Exact Plan of Scarborough in 1725 in more or less its present position. It stood proudly on the site of the thriving Scarborough Saturday Market, overlooked by St Mary’s Church, in the middle of what was once Conduit Street (now Princess Square) at the junction of upper West Sandgate, well in front of Ye Old Brass Tap pub. In those days clearly it was a proper cross, but there is no record of the disappearance or dismantling of the stone cross-member.
What is certain is that in the days of the thriving market it would have been the focal point for many a meeting, many a sermon, and, no doubt, many a dodgy deal.
It is Scarborough’s only surviving medieval street cross. The Corn, Rede and Haldane crosses which were also part of Scarborough’s heritage have long since disappeared.
Its prominence in the market square has of course long since gone with the disappearance of the market but nonetheless it still remained as a distinctive structure until the demolition of Ye Old Brass Tap pub in the 1950s when new buildings were then constructed right up to the site of the cross.