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Church of The Holy Cross, Crediton.jpg
Church of The Holy Cross, Crediton
Grid reference: SS837005
Location: 50°47’33"N, 3°39’5"W
Population: 6,837  (2001)
Post town: Crediton
Postcode: EX17
Dialling code: 01363
Local Government
Council: Mid Devon
Central Devon

Crediton is a small town in Devon, in the hills some 7 miles northwest of Exeter, between the Rivers Creedy and Yeo. It is at the junction place of on the A377 Exeter to Barnstaple road with the A3072 to Tiverton

This was in the Anglo-Saxon period an important ecclesiastical centre; a monastic centre and the seat of a bishop with cure of the souls of Devon and Cornwall. Until the Reformation it remained under the control of its ancient Abbey.

In the narrow vale of the River Creedy, Crediton sits between two steep hills and is divided into two parts, the east or old town and the west or new town.


The first indication of settlement at Crediton is the knowledge that Saint Winfrith or Boniface was born here in c. 672.[1] He propagated Christianity amongst he heathen Germanic tribes in east of the Frankish Empire during the 8th century and consequently is the patron saint of both Germany and the Netherlands. In 909 a bishopric was established here with Edwulf as the first Bishop of Crediton.[1] Nine further bishops ruled here until 1050, when Leofric obtained permission to transfer the seat to Exeter,[1] a larger and walled town. Since 1897 Crediton has been the seat of a suffragan bishopric in the Diocese of Exeter.

At the Domesday Book survey of 1086, much of the land was still uncultivated, but its prosperity increased, and in 1269 each of the twelve prebends of the collegiate church had a house and farmland within the parish. The bishops, to whom the manor belonged until the Reformation, had difficulty in enforcing their warren and other rights; in 1351 Bishop Grandisson obtained an exemplification of judgments of 1282 declaring that he had pleas of withernam, view of frankpledge, the gallows and assize of bread and ale. Two years later there was a serious riot against the increase of copyhold.

The jury of the borough are mentioned in 1275, and Crediton returned two members to the first Parliament called by Edward I,[2] in 1306-1307, though it was never afterwards represented. A borough seal dated 1469 is extant, but the corporation is not mentioned in the grant made by Edward VI of the church to twelve principal inhabitants.

The borough and manor were granted by Elizabeth I to William Killigrew in 1595, but there is no indication of town organization then or in 1630, and in the 18th century Crediton was governed by commissioners.

The wool trade was established by 1249 and certainly continued until 1630 when the market for kerseys is mentioned in conjunction with a saying as fine as Kirton spinning.[3]

… a big lousy town … the houses be mostly of clay, without any timber in the walls except the roof, doors and windows.

—Richard Symons, a Captain in the Royalist Army, writing about Crediton in 1644.[4]

During the Civil War, Robert Devereux, 3rd Earl of Essex, passed through the town on 20 July 1644 on his way towards Cornwall,[5] and evidently left the town and surrounding countryside in some disarray.[6] He was closely followed by Charles I who arrived in the town on 27 July to review the army gathered there by his nephew, Prince Maurice, before returning to Exeter for a council of war.[7] The following Sunday, the King spent the night at Crediton and then began his expedition of "Essex-catching".[7] In the winter of 1645-46 the town was used as a base by Thomas Fairfax and the New Model Army from where they marched on the Royalist forces gathering in North Devon, and to where they returned on 29 March 1646 after success both at the Battle of Torrington and in overturning the siege of Plymouth.[8]

On 14 August 1743 (a Sunday morning), a great fire started, completely destroying High Street and buildings in the "West Town".[1] At that period of time it was the second-largest fire in the country; second only to the Great Fire of London. Sixteen people lost their lives, with over 2,000 made homeless and 450 houses destroyed. Other large fires occurred in 1766, 1769 and 1772.[1]

Parih church

The grand parish church is the Church of Holy Cross and was formerly a collegiate church, inherited from the former Abbey suppressed at the Reformation.

It is a Perpendicular Gothic building with Early English and other early portions, and a central tower.[1]

Sights of the town

  • The Church of Holy Cross
  • Downes, a country house southeast of the town on a ridge overlooking the river. It was built about 1692 and it was the birthplace of Sir Redvers Buller.[1]
  • The northwest side of the town had a great wall built in 1276 and it is still partly remaining today, although now it looks no different from a normal garden wall.


Storage silos at the Milk Link creamery

In the early 20th century shoe-making, tanning, agricultural trade, tin-plating and the manufacture of confectionery and cider had superseded the former large woollen and serge industries.

The creamery and dairy in Crediton has always been located next to the church, but to enable its product to be distributed further, the company ran a transport depot that was located in the good yard of the railway station.[9] Every day, a train of three or more Milk Tank Wagons would be filled from lorries, and then taken to London by either the Great Western Railway or the Southern Railway. Express Dairies sold the creamery and a similar unit in Kirkcudbright in July 2002 to Milk Link, which both by that time produced UHT milk.

Today, the town has two industrial parks at Lords Meadow and Fordton, a dairy and a small collection of units at Westward Business Park.[10] It is the centre for shopping and business for the surrounding area, and has industries such as graphics and pharmaceuticals.[11]

Bristow's of Devon, founded in 1932 was one of the town's main employers but was closed in 2011 after owner New McCowan's went into administration. The factory, on Lords Meadow Industrial Estate, was reopened by Crediton Confectionery which has taken over the Bristow's brand.[12][13]

In 2001 the Crediton area was given priority status with regard to the government's Market and Coastal Towns Initiative, following the outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease. By 2006, of 45 projects in the plan, 18 had been completed, resolved, or begun.[14]

Pubs include the Crediton Inn on Mill Street, the General Sir Redvers Buller, the Three Little Pigs, The Ship, the White Swan on High Street, the Plymouth Inn on Dean Street and The Mitre on High Street.

Sport and leisure

  • Football: Crediton United AFC, who play at The Lords Meadow Sports Centre.

Cultural references

Michael Jecks’s ‘’Knights Templar Mysteries’’ are set in and around Crediton.

Outside links


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 W. G. Hoskins (1954). A New Survey of England: Devon. London: Collins. pp. 378–379.  (Text online here)
  2. "Crediton Devon through time - Local history overview for the place". A Vision of Britain through Time. (Quoting John Bartholomew's Gazetteer of the British Isles, 1887). Retrieved 2008-06-21. 
  3. "Crediton: From White's Devonshire Directory of 1850". GENUKI/Devon. Retrieved 2008-06-21. 
  4. T. W. Venn (1955). "An Introduction to Crediton". Report & Transactions of the Devonshire Association 87: 28. 
  5. Eugene A. Andriette (1971). Devon and Exeter in the Civil War. Newton Abbot: David and Charles. pp. 116. 
  6. Giglio, Robert (2003). "Lostwithiel Campaign, 1644. Being a brief background of the campaign in Cornwall during the English Civil Wars". The English Civil War Society of America (See entry for 28 July under "Chronology of Events - The King's Army"). Retrieved 2008-06-30. 
  7. 7.0 7.1 Eugene A. Andriette (1971). Devon and Exeter in the Civil War. Newton Abbot: David and Charles. pp. 118. 
  8. Eugene A. Andriette (1971). Devon and Exeter in the Civil War. Newton Abbot: David and Charles. pp. 157–158, 162, 165. 
  10. "Crediton, Devon, UK for Westcountry Business". Crediton Area Website. Retrieved 2008-06-21. 
  11. Harris, Helen (2004). A Handbook of Devon Parishes. Tiverton: Halsgrove. pp. 54. ISBN 1-84114-314-6. 
  12. "Devon fudge factory Bristow's closes with 73 jobs lost". BBC News. 6 October 2011. Retrieved 13 December 2012. 
  13. "Sweets smell of success for new factory owners". Mid Devon Gazette (Northcliffe Media Ltd). 13 March 2012. Retrieved 13 December 2012. 
  14. "Crediton MCTi – history, lessons learned, and the future.". Mid Devon District Council. Retrieved 2008-06-21. 


  • T Reuter (ed.): The Greatest Englishman: Essays on St Boniface and the church at Crediton, Exeter, 1980