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28 October 2014

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Crediton Church

Home Town - Crediton

By Jill Amador
Former city lawyer (and now full time mother) Jill Amador has lived with her husband in an old farmhouse just outside Crediton since 2001. She tells us about the historic town.

Crediton lies between Exmoor and Dartmoor amongst rolling hills, winding rivers and many picturesque villages.

Jill and her husband
Jill and her husband

It's an ancient place with a history that predates the Norman Conquest and its most famous son is unquestionably the young Winfrith (680 to 754 AD) who grew up to become a missionary to the heathen nations of Europe.

During that time he received the name Boniface from Pope Gregory II, before dying a martyr's death and becoming the patron saint of Germany and the Netherlands.

Today most people think of Exeter as the principal city of Devon, however this was not always the case and there's a saying in these parts that: "When Exeter was nort but a furzey down, Kirton [Crediton] was a thriving town".

In days of old (from 909 to 1050 AD) Crediton was the seat of the Saxon Bishopric of Devon with nine Saxon bishops enthroned here before the see was transferred to Exeter for greater safety from the marauding Vikings. 

An old tree by an old building

In the absence of the original wooden Saxon cathedral the Church of the Holy Cross and the Mother of Him Who Hung Thereon has something of the splendour of scale of a Norman cathedral.

Over the porch there is a room that once housed a library of one thousand books bequeathed to the church in 1721 by Thomas Ley, a former vicar. The library is now in the safekeeping of the University of Exeter.

By the altar is the great white tomb of Sir William Peryam, an Elizabethan courtier who was one of the judges who presided over the trial of Mary Queen of Scots in 1586 and later in 1601 over the Earl of Essex, Queen Elizabeth I's fallen favourite.

His likeness lies resplendent on his tomb wearing his judicial robes of office with one arm propping up his head and with the seven ladies in his life (three wives and four daughters) congregating below him.

Crediton Town Centre
Crediton Town Centre

On the south aisle is an ancient tomb, believed to be that of Sir John de Sully and his wife, adorned by two figures representing the knight in armour and his good lady. 

Sir John was a veteran of the battle of Crecy and, having survived the campaign, is reputed to have lived to the grand old age of 105 - an outstanding achievement in the fourteenth century. 

Admiral Sir Bernard Drake of Ashe, a knighted admiral in the Elizabethan navy is believed also to lie buried in an unknown grave in the churchyard. 

Also of interest within the town is the Queen Elizabeth School founded in 1547, but largely rebuilt in 1860 to the design of the Victorian architect, John Hayward, in the style of the neo-Tudor revival. 

Jill's local
Jill's local

Hayward, who specialised in episcopalian architecture, was frequently retained by the Church Commissioners, and was also responsible for the refurbishment of the Church of the Holy Cross over the period from 1848 to 1877. 

On the first Saturday of every month local farmers sell their produce at the farmers' market. It is a colourful affair involving the sale of everything from artisan food products such as cheese, sausages and pâtés to home-grown fruit and vegetables.

If you find yourself hungry and in need of hospitality I can strongly recommend our local, the "New Inn", in the beautiful hamlet of Coleford, which is about 5 miles out of town. 

Situated on the banks of a gentle stream with a garden of weeping willow and lavender, it is the perfect place to unwind on a hot thirsty afternoon. Who knows I may even bump into you there.

last updated: 19/10/07
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