About this church
The church in Crediton has a history as long as that of any church in Devon. It can be traced in written records back to the early 10th century, and if an 11th century copy of a charter of 739AD is authentic, to almost two centuries earlier. The construction of a Norman church was underway in the 1130’s when a collegiate church was established. In the late 13th century the church was extended, and became an important centre for prayer, offerings and visits by the sick.
Around half of all priests in Devon died during the Black Death of 1348/9. Filling vacancies became difficult and the church is described as being in a state of disrepair. In the early 15th century the church received a number of bequests and was rebuilt in the perpendicular gothic style.
Collegiate churches were dissolved between 1545 and 1549 and Crediton’s was ‘surrendered’ to Henry VIII in May 1545. The parishioners successfully negotiated to buy the church, and in 1547 the town paid £200 to the king. In April 1547, Edward VI (confirmed by Elizabeth in 1559) created a new organisation for the governance of the church. The church is still cared for by a corporation of 12 governors.
In the sanctuary is the ornate tomb of Sir William Peryam (1534-1604). He was involved in the trial of Mary, Queen of Scots in 1586 and also served as a Governor of Holy Cross and church warden. Nearby is the Tuckfield Memorial, built in the 1630s. A life-sized effigy of Elizabeth Tuckfield stands, leaning in a casual way upon a prayer desk.
Much older than either is the table tomb of Sir John de Sully and his wife Isobel (1387). Sir John lived to the remarkable age of 106 and fought in many of the most important battles of the 14th century. Another striking memorial is to General Sir Redvers Buller (1911). It is full of symbolism and includes the signs of the apostles, foliage, heraldic coats of arms and a Victoria Cross.
Boniface has been called 'the Greatest Englishman'. He was born a short walk from the church around 680AD. After a lifetime as a missionary he was martyred in Friesland. He had a greater influence on European history than any other Englishman. There are several memorials to him in the church including stained glass in the east window.