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Title:The Saxon Minster Collegiate Church and Bishop's Palace at Crediton
Originator:Weddell, P. J.
Summary:The origin of the ecclesiastical settlement at Crediton dates from AD739. Crediton is also recorded as the birthplace of St. Boniface in circa AD675 or 680. The See of Crediton was created in AD909 when Devon and Cornwall were separated from the Diocese of Sherborne; Crediton being the logical place as it was already the centre of a large episcopal estate. It remained a Cathedral Church for less that 150 years for in 1050 the See was moved to Exeter. Crediton became a Collegiate Church which existed until the dissolution. The history of the collegiate church is well-documented and the overall impression is that Crediton became something of an ecclesiastical backwater with few resident canons, although some attempts were made to improve this. The Collegiate Church was dissolved in 1545 and in 1547 the king granted the church, churchyard, vicars house and school house back to the parishioners. A new parochial organisation was also established at this time which is still in existence today. The location of the Saxon church has never been definitely established but it seems likely that it lay adjacent to or under part of the present church. If so, it is speculated that it may have lain within an enclosure now defined by East Street, Bowden Hill, Mill Street, Belle Parade, Blagdon and the vicinity of North Street. East Street and Bowden Hill are shown with suggestive curving courses on a map of 1598. With a stream flowing through the middle the resulting oval enclosure would have been similar to Kingsteignton, also a late Saxon settlement. The plan of the college is also rather difficult to reconstruct a the topography has changed much since the medieval period. The churchyard was progressively enlarged in the 19th century swallowing up areas previously occupied by Collegiate buildings. The present church is mainly 15th century and the extent of the Norman church is not known. The Vicar's House lay to the north of the churchyard on land now partly occupied by the vicarage garden and partly by the northern end of the churchyard. It was built circa 1361. A granite arch is still visible in the north boundary wall of the vicarage. The gateway in the south-west corner of the garden may also be from the vicar's house and there is also said to be another in Alexander Road. There were also buildings to the east of the Vicars house which are shown on the Governors map of 1836. These were stables and outbuildings in the 19th century but may have originally been collegiate buildings. The location of the chapter house is uncertain but it is likely to have been on the south-east side of the church, although not necessarily attached to it. The canons houses are likely to have been grouped around the churchyard. One of the buildings specifically mentioned in the royal grant of 1547 is the school house. There was a school within the collegiate organisation; a grammar school is mentioned in 1377, although a new one was founded in 1547. The location of the medieval school is not known. In the post-dissolution period there was a school held in the Church House and in the 19th century the Grammar School was held in the Lady Chapel. At that time the Master lived in a house on the south side of East Street, now partly occupied by Haywards School. An infant school shown on a mid 19th century drawing, a single storey building with a thatched roof may represent the remains of collegiate buildings, possibly located on the site now occupied by the Ring O'Bells. A collegiate hostel is said to have lain in Church Street. It is presumed that the Saxon Bishops had a residence in Crediton which was maintained after the transferal of the See to Exeter as it was the centre of a large ecclesiastical estate. It continued to be used after the dissolution. Today the house, called the Palace is occupied by the Chairman and Governors of Crediton Church. The present house, which has an 18th century front, is said to be built around and in front of medieval stone walls. The site, called The Pallace, is shown on Norden's map of 1598. The small scale archaeological investigations that have taken place in Crediton shown that the area has large archaeological potential. Crediton was not only an important ecclesiastical centre but evidence now suggests that there was a possible Roman settlement here also. The churchyard is likely to contain remains of the Saxon Minster and other saxon buildings and there are also known to have been collegiate buildings on the north side and those on the east side may also have been collegiate in origin. The buildings in Dean Street may also be shown to have medieval origins.

Associated Monuments (9)

MDV12612Bishop's Palace in Crediton (Building)
MDV74152Boundary Wall to Glebe House, Crediton (Monument)
MDV12611Collegiate Buildings, Holy Cross Church, Crediton (Monument)
MDV17295Collegiate Church in Crediton (Monument)
MDV619Holy Cross Parish Church, Crediton (Building)
MDV18839Possible Collegiate Hostel, Church Street, Crediton (Building)
MDV54300Possible Site of Saxon Church in Crediton (Monument)
MDV17296Saxon Minster at Crediton (Monument)
MDV13969St Gregory's Cathedral, Crediton (Monument)