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The Buttercross

Situation
At the junction of High Street and Corn Street, Witney.

History
Standing at the heart of Witney the Buttercross was probably originally a simple market cross, although different local traditions suggest that it also may have been the spot on which stood an ancient preaching cross, a shrine, or a statue of the Virgin Mary [1]. The central stone pillar which is raised up on a bed of steps is older than the surrounding twelve pillars that support the roof and it may be the remains of the original market cross or shrine.

Witney Buttercross - the clock turret bequeathed by William Blake in 1683.
Witney Buttercross - the clock turret bequeathed by William Blake in 1683.
It was in 1606 that Richard Ashcombe left 50 to build a house 'over and above' the cross and it then became a place where people sold perishable goods such as butter. The clock turret was added later in 1683 following a bequest by William Blake of Cogges who was a successful draper, wool merchant and local benefactor. Cogges had plenty of common pasture where some local people kept flocks of sheep. Some of those involved in the wool trade became rich and were able, like the Blake family, to benefit the local community through endowments and charities [2].

Clare Sumner