Bailiff’s Cross is located at Route de la Croix-au-Bailiff and Le Vauquiedor adjacent to Argent Funeral Care. The story as recorded by Graham Skuse (Flickr.com) is as follows:
The Story Of The Hangmans Stone
La Pierre de la Croix au Bailiff (The Bailiff’s Cross Stone)
The stone is associated with the legend of Gaultier de la Salle, once a Bailiff of Guernsey, who owned land at La Petite Ville (now Mount Row).
The Bailiff’s neighbour, Massy, had the right to use a well on his land. De la Salle, however, wanted to stop Massy from coming on to his land. He offered to buy Massy’s field, but the offer was refused.
De la Salle was very angry and decided to kill Massy, so his property would be forfeited to the crown. He plotted to accuse Massy of theft, a crime that was punishable by death. He hid two of his silver cups in a cornstack and reported to the constable that they had been stolen. Massy was arrested and, even though he pleaded innocence, he was sentenced to death. On the day of the execution, the cups were found by some of de la Salle’s workmen and the plot was exposed.
It is thought that the stone marks the spot where de la Salle stopped to receive Holy Sacrament on the way to the gallows. This area is now referred to as ‘Bailiff’s Cross.’ It is reputed that a huge, headless black dog has been seen here and it is said to be the spirit of Gaultier de la Salle.
The accuracy of this tale is unclear but there are records of a Walter de la Salle on the Assize Roll of 1319.
The face of the stone is inscribed with a cross but the date of its creation is unknown. It has been suggested that the cross is, in fact, an alteration to an earlier inscription in the shape of the letter T. This might have represented the gallows at Courtil du Gibet or it could have been a Tau cross, which represented a crucifix. If it was a Tau cross, it is the only known example in the Channel Islands. While gutting the interior of the Hangman’s Inn, an old postcard was discovered on which the legend behind the pub’s name was explained:
Here, Gautier de la Salle, Bailiff of Guernsey in 1284, passed on way to execution, having falsely accused Massy, a peasant, against whom he had a grudge, with having stolen two silver cups. The cups were discovered, hidden in a rick owned by the Bailiff, so de la Salle went to his death. Receiving sacrament nearby, he made the sign of the Cross, which was carved in stone and can still be seen, hence ‘Bailiff’s Cross’. The estate of the Bailiff was forfeited to the Crown, whence it was called Ville au Roi.
The photograph depicts the hunk of Guernsey blue granite in which the sign of the Bailiff’s cross has been carved. Located just outside the inn, it is classified as an ‘Ancient Monument’.
In later years the Inn became a very popular meeting place even having its own darts team that was somewhat macarbly known as ‘Pierpoints’ since those days the Inn has become the home of a local Funeral Director complete with a Chapel of Rest, strange when you think of its origins.