Friday, 17 July 2009

Crediton / Cridianton: Place in Bernard Cornwell'sSaxon Series ****

Crediton (Credington, Cryditon, Kirton, Kirkinton) is a town in the Mid Devon district of Devon, England. It stands on the A377 Exeter to Barnstaple road at the junction with the A3072 road to Tiverton, about 7 miles (11 km) north west of Exeter. It has a population of about 7,000. The town is situated in the narrow vale of the River Creedy, 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 Winfrith or Saint Boniface was born here in c. 672. He propagated Christianity in the Frankish Empire during the 8th century and is the patron saint of both Germany and the Netherlands. In 909 a see was established here with Edwulf as the first bishop. Nine more bishops ruled here until 1050, when Leofric obtained papal permission from Pope Leo IX to transfer the seat to Exeter, a more culturally aware, larger and walled town. Since 1897 Crediton has been the seat of a suffragan bishopric in the Diocese of Exeter; since 2004 this has been Robert Evens.
At the Domesday survey (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 frank pledge, 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 parliament during the reign of Edward I, in 1306-1307, though it was never afterwards represented again. 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.
“ … 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.
During the English Civil War the Earl of Essex passed through the town on 20 July 1644 on his way towards Cornwall, and evidently left the town and surrounding countryside in some disarray. 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. The following Sunday, the King spent the night at Crediton and then began his expedition of "Essex-catching". 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.
On 14 August 1743 (a Sunday morning), a great fire started, completely destroying High Street and buildings in the "West Town". 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.

The Church of Holy Cross, formerly collegiate, is a Perpendicular building with Early English and other early portions, and a central tower.

Notice the RED brick used from the RED soil of Devon

South east of the town, on a ridge overlooking the river, the country house, Downes, was built about 1692. It was the birthplace of Sir Redvers Buller.
The north west 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.

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