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Crediton community page

Crediton is located within Mid Devon local authority area. Historically it formed part of Crediton Hundred. It falls within Crediton/Sandford Deanery for ecclesiastical purposes. The Deaneries are used to arrange the typescript Church Notes of B.F.Cresswell which are held in the Westcountry Studies Library. The population was 4929 in 1801 5266 in 1901 . Figures for other years are available on the local studies website. In the valuation of 1334 it was assessed at £4/01/01. The lay subsidy of 1524 valued the community at £53/15/06. In 1641/2 1059 adult males signed the Protestation returns. It is recorded as a borough from 1238. It had parliamentary representation from the 14th century. The community had a grammar school from 1547. A market is recorded from the 14th century.

A parish history file is held in Crediton Library. You can look for other material on the community by using the place search on the main local studies database. Further historical information is also available on the Genuki website.

Maps: The image below is of the Crediton area on Donn's one inch to the mile survey of 1765.


On the County Series Ordnance Survey mapping the area is to be found on 1:2,500 sheet 67/2,6 Six inch (1:10560) sheet 67NW
The National Grid reference for the centre of the area is SS830005. On the post 1945 National Grid Ordnance Survey mapping the sheets are: 1:10,000 (six inch to a mile: sheet SS80SW,SX89NW, 1:25,000 mapping: sheet Explorer 114, Landranger (1:50,000) mapping: sheet 191. Geological sheet 325 also covers the area.

Illustrations: The image below is of Crediton as included in the Library's Etched on Devon's memory website. Other images can be searched for on the local studies catalogue.


A fair is known from: 14c.-1935. [It is intended to include the local section from The glove is up! Devon's historic fairs, by Tricia Gerrish, by kind permission of the author].

Extract from Devon by W.G.Hoskins (1954), included by kind permission of the copyright holder:

CREDITON is a somnolent market-town situated in a large and mostly very fertile parish of more than 12,000 acres. The town and rural parish, known as Crediton Hamlets, were separated for local government purposes in 1894. Crediton first appears in history as the birthplace of Winfrith or (as he is more generally known) St. Boniface c. 680, who is in some respects the greatest man Devon has ever produced, the first preacher of Christianity in Central Germany and founder of the famous monastery of Fulda. In 739 a monasterium or minster was established here, King Aethelheard giving Cridie to Forthhere, bishop of Sherborne, for this purpose. A see was established here in 909 with Eadulf as the first bishop. Athelstan confirmed Crediton to the bishop in 933 as part of his endowment, and nine bishops ruled here until Leofric (1046-50) obtained papal permission to remove the see to the walled city of Exeter in 1050. The valuable manor of Crediton went with him to the new see of Exeter, and remained episcopal property until the Tudors de-spoiled the bishopric of most of its best estates.

The bishop of Exeter created a borough at Crediton shortly before 1238, but it never grew too much size or importance, probably because it lay too near to Exeter. The great revival of the Devonshire woollen industry in the early 16th century brought the most prosperous days. Among the Crediton merchants who made fortunes out of kerseys at this period, and founded landed families, were the Davies (later of Creedy Park), the Northcotes (later of Hayne in Newton St. Cyres and now Earls of Iddesleigh), and the Tuckfields, who enjoyed a large estate centred upon Fulford Park, in the neighbouring parish of Shobrooke, down to the early 19th century It remained a considerable textile town until the time of George III and then declined with nearly all the other Devonshire woollen towns. Like most old market-towns, Crediton began to decay seriously when the railway came (1851) and nothing has happened since to disturb its slumber. In late years it has become a dormitory for Exeter, helped by a frequent and cheap bus service.

The town, which consists mostly of one E.W. street a mile long, has frequently been devastated by great fires, more so even than the majority of Devonshire towns. The fire of 14 August 1743 destroyed 460 houses in the West Town, and did £40,000 worth of damage. Other great fires occurred in 1766, 1769, and 1772. There remains, however, much decent building of late 18th early 19th century date and some pleasant old shop fronts. The blood-red local brick gives a warmth to the scene everywhere. On Bowden Hill some older buildings remain, including a Unitarian chapel rebuilt in 1729. Michaiah Towgood, the eminent Presbyterian divine, was minister here from 1737 to 1749.

The parish church (Holy Cross) is one of the finest town churches in Devon, a splendid red sandstone building with a tower strongly reminiscent of Exeter cathedral. When the see was removed to Exeter, the church was made collegiate and was perhaps the first of its class in Devon, with its stately chancel occupied by the stalls of 18 canons and 18 vicars. Edward VI dissolved the collegiate church in 1547, and the parishioners bought the church for £200. Nothing remains of the collegiate buildings, which must have been extensive. Twelve of the principal inhabitants (9 from Crediton, 3 from Sandford) were incorporated as the Twelve Governors of the church of Crediton, who keep the church in repair and have the gift of the living. The present handsome building is cruciform in plan, with a central tower, N. and S. transepts, an eastern Lady Chapel, and a three-storied vestry on the S. side of the chancel. It is in essence a great 12th century cruciform church extensively remodelled in the late 14th early 15th century The 15th century clearstory is magnificent, an unusual feature in Devon churches. In the N. aisle is a muniment chest, c. 1420 in date. There are three notable monuments in the church: (I) John Tuckfield of Tedburn and Fulford (1555-1630), his son Thomas, and his daughter-in-law Elizabeth; (2) Sir William Periam (1534-1604), who sat on the commission for the trial of Mary, Queen of Scots, and became Chief Baron of the Exchequer; (3) Sir John Sully (1387) and his wife. He fought in most of the campaigns of the Black Prince. The grammar school was kept in the Lady Chapel from the time of Edward VI until 1859, when the present school buildings were completed. In the parvise chamber is a good parochial library.

The extensive parish contained a number of ancient mansions and fertile estates. The Bodleys, ancestors of the famous Sir Thomas Bodley, lived at Higher Dunscombe, beside the Exeter road, which shows traces of the mansion. Downes, not far away, is the seat of the Bullers who acquired it from the Goulds in 1726. The present house was built about 1692, (BM., Add. MS. 9,426, (Lysons Correspondence), fol. 246.) and was the birthplace of Sir Redvers Buller (1839-1908), who was sent to South Africa in 1899 in chief command, where after some initial reverses he relieved Ladysmith. He was immensely popular in Devon, and a statue to him was erected in Exeter with the inscription "He saved Natal." Other "mansions" in the parish were at Uton Barton, Court Barton at Venny Tedburn, Fordton Barton, and Spence Combe. The bishops of Exeter had a palace and a great park at Crediton, SW. of the town, of which there are now no traces.

At Posbury are the remains of an Early Iron Age hill-fort, an ancient quarry of volcanic trap rock worked since the 12th century and now disused, and a small Gothic chapel built in 1835.

Creator: Devon Library and Information Services
Title: Crediton community page
Imprint: Exeter : Devon Library and Information Services
Date: 2004
Format: Web page : HTML
Series: Devon community web pages ; GAZCRE7
Ref. no.: WEB GAZCRE7
Coverage: Devon . Crediton . History . Web pages

Last Updated: 13/11/2009

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