THE 700 year old focal point of the village of Castle Combe, the market cross, has undergone much needed restorations to keep it standing.

"The ancient cross attracts over 100,000 worldwide visitors annually." Said Fred Winup, chairman of Castle Combe Parish Council. "We are so grateful to everyone who has contributed to these urgent repairs and to Minerva Conservation, from Frome. We are delighted with the work they have carried out."

He added: "For centuries the weekly sales of all manner of local goods were sold here under a grant from King Henry VI in 1440.

"Peasants laid their vegetables or cheese out, whilst more wealthy traders set up stalls and itinerant pedlars sold pans, cutlery and furniture, with prime location given to sales in the woollen market trade.

"Gradually trade moved elsewhere as the water supply reduced and the number of operational mills dwindled from a peak of thirteen to nil.

"Much more recently it reverted temporarily to its previous use as the important scene-setting site of the horse auction in Steven Spielberg's film Warhorse.

"In 1951 repairs to the cross cost £415, the same repairs in 2020 have cost £100,000 due its National Monument status.

"Money for repairs and renovations came from a wide range of sources; the parish council contributing £25,000. Wiltshire Council gave us £20,000, as it recognised the importance of the cross to the county's tourism industry. We also had invaluable help and advice from Historic England, who donated £33,000.

"Other donations came form The Pilgrim Trust, Manor House Hotel, Leche Trust and other donations. All of which deserve a huge thank you, along with our villagers."

The cross was acquired by the Parish Council from private ownership in 1949 to preserve it for posterity, receiving National Monument status in the 1950’s.