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Collegiate Church of the Holy Cross, Crediton, Devon


The church of the Holy Cross is a fine cruciform building of stone, 228 feet by 58 feet, the transepts measuring together 85 feet, and consists of choir or five bays, with aisles and clerestory, and an eastern Lady chapel, nave of six bays, with clerestory, aisles, transepts with eastern aisles or chapels, south porch, with parvise, used as a library, and containing some chained books, and a massive embattled central tower containing a clock and 8 bells, all cast in 1774, except the tenor, which is dated 1814: the whole edifice is embattled, and the tower, of two stages, is surmounted by four octagonal embattled turrets, with crocketed spirelets and vanes: the basement of the tower is Norman (1150), the upper part Early English: the building was in progress in 1409 and 1511, but the structure was mainly rebuilt before the middle of the 15th century: the nave has large and lofty windows, and both nave and chancel are of unusual length: the Lady chapel is Early Decorated, and the transepts Perpendicular: in the church is an altar-tomb, with effigy robed and wearing a collar of SS, to William Peryam, ob. October 9, 1604, Justice of the Common Pleas 1581-93, and afterwards Chief Baron of the Exchequer: at the east end of the south side of the choir are two recumbent effigies of a knight in plate armour and a lady; the former wears a bascinet with camail and a hauberk covered by a tunic bearing three chevronels; the female effigy is in a close-fitting dress with mantle, but is much mutilated; these figures are assumed to represent Sir John Sully, a warrior who fought at Cressy (1346) and Poictiers (1356), and in 1385-90, at the age of 105, gave evidence in the famous Scrope and Grosvenor controversy; his wife was one of the co-heirs of FitzRobert, Baron of Torrington: in the north choir aisle is a slab once containing the brass of a bishop, and there are some memorials to the ancient family of Prouse, including a flat stone inscribed to Francis Prouse M.D. of Fordton, ob. 5 October, 1696, his son Francis 1716, and Constance, wife of the latter, 1714; near it is a tablet to Mrs. Honor Prowse, ob. 1 July, 1773; there are also two coffin slabs, bearing crosses: a fine old font remains, and there are three richly worked stone stalls, serving as sedilia, at the back of which, and facing the aisle, is a recess, with a canopy, inclosing a flat table monument: four windows in the Lady chapel and one in the chapel of St. Nicholas are stained: the great west window has been filled with stained glass as a memorial to the Rev. J. R. Nankivell M.A. chaplain 1867-84. at a cost of £300, and in 1896 a stained window was placed at the east end, at a cost of £450; the choir stalls are placed under the central tower: the chancel, raised four steps above the nave, is paved with marble mosaic, and has been furnished with Miserere stalls of English oak, with richly carved tracery and carved poppy heads, at a cost of £450, from designs by Messrs. Tait and Harvey, architects, of Exeter, and executed by Mr. W. Dart: the altar steps are of polished marble and the mosaic paving in the sacrarium is of rich design and highly polished: south-east of the choir is a large building, probably the ancient Chapter House, but now divided into three storeys, containing on the ground flour a convenient vestry and large vestibule; on the next floor are two rooms, one of which is used as a choir vestry; during the refitting of this room at the beginning of 1897 some 20 lbs. in weight of silver coins of the reigns of Elizabeth and Charles II. were found concealed under the floor; on the upper floor is a spacious room, now used for the meetings of the "Corporation of the Governors of the Church," and containing some curious ancient chests, and pieces of old armour: a brass memorial tablet has been placed in the church near the pulpit in memory of the late General Sir Redvers Buller, d. 1908, by his only daughter: in 1911 a part of the chancel was redecorated in memory of the late General Sir Redvers Buller P.C., V.C., G.C.B., G.C.M.G. and a churchyard cross was erected in the same year: the church was restored in 1880-81, at a cost of £1,400, and refloored and reseated in 1887, at a cost of £2,500, and has 900 sittings; the Governors' room was restored in 1905.

The first church, which stood on or near the site of the present building, was from A.D. 909 to A.D. 1050 the cathedral of the bishops of Devonshire, who were also, from 1032, bishops of Cornwall: on the removal of the see to Exeter, by Bishop Leofric, the church was made collegiate, with a precentor as president, a treasurer, dean or perpetual vicar, 18 canons, as many vicars, and choral members: after the Dissolution the church, with some lands, was granted for the sum of £200, by Edward VI. by deed dated 2nd April, 1547, to twelve of the principal inhabitants, viz. nine of Crediton and three of Sandford, incorporated as the Twelve Governors of the church of Crediton, by whose successors the church is still kept in repair out of the great tithes of Crediton, Sandford and Exminster, with which they are endowed for that purpose.

Collegiate Church of the Holy Cross, Crediton

Church Records

The parish register dates from the year 1557 and is practically complete.

Findmypast, in association with the South West Heritage Trust, Parochial Church Council, and Devon Family History Society have the Baptisms, Banns, Marriages, and Burials online for Crediton

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Collegiate Church of the Holy Cross

Denomination:Church of England
Built:15th c.