Crediton (& Uton)


A Topographical Dictionary of England


 Samuel Lewis (1831)

Transcript copyright Mel Lockie (Sep 2016)


CREDITON, a borough, market-town, and parish, in the hundred of CREDITON, and extending also into that of West Budleigh, county of DEVON, 8 miles (N. W.) from Exeter, and 180 (W. by S.) from London, containing, with the tythings of Bradley, Canon-Fee, Fulford, Knowle, Rudge, Town, Uford, Uton, and Woodland, 5515 inhabitants. This place, which takes its name from its situation on the river Greedy, was for many years the seat of a diocese, of which a collegiate church, founded here in 905, and dedicated to the Holy Cross, became the cathedral. In the reign of Canute, Levinus, Bishop of Crediton, prevailed upon that monarch, with whom he had great influence, to annex the see of St. Germans to that of Crediton, the united see having been removed to Exeter, by Edward the Confessor, in 1050. A chapter, consisting of a dean and twelve prebendaries, was still maintained in the old collegiate church, under the jurisdiction of the Bishop of Exeter, the revenue of which, at the dissolution, was £ 332.17. 5.: the church, with some lands belonging to it, was granted to the governors of the free school in the reign of Edward VI. In the reign of Edward I. this borough sent members to a parliament held at Carlisle; and, in 1310, Bishop Stapleton obtained for it the grant of a weekly market and two annual fairs. Towards the middle of the sixteenth century, the opponents of the Reformation assembled their forces at Crediton, but were compelled to withdraw by Sir Peter Carew, who was sent against them with a superior force. In 1644, Charles I. reviewed his troops in this town, which was subsequently possessed by the army under Sir Thomas Fairfax; in 1743 a fire destroyed a considerable part of it, and a similar calamity occurred in 1769. Crediton is pleasantly situated in a vale on the banks of the river Creedy, and within three quarters of a mile of the river Exe, with which the Creedy unites between this place and Exeter: it is divided into two parts, east and west, of which the former, containing the church, is the more ancient, and the latter the more extensive; and consists principally of one main street, nearly a mile in length, roughly paved, and containing low cottages at each extremity, with a few well-built houses in the centre, in which is also a range of shambles: it is amply supplied with water. Assemblies and concerts take place periodically, during the winter, in a good assembly-room, conveniently fitted up for the purpose. The principal branch of manufacture is that of serge, which is sent to Exeter to be finished for exportation; dowlas, long ells, and flannel, are also manufactured here, but not to a great extent: it is in contemplation to bring the road to Barnstaple through the town, within a short distance of which it now passes. The market, which is very well attended, is on Saturday; and on the Saturday preceding the last Wednesday in April is a large market for cattle, in which more than one thousand head are frequently sold. Fairs for cattle are held, in the eastern division of the town, on May 11th and September 21st, and in the western division on the 21st of August, unless it happen on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday, in which case it is postponed till the following Tuesday; this fair continues for three days, on the first of which a great number of cattle is sold. The town is within the jurisdiction of the county magistrates, who hold a petty session every month; and its local affairs are under the superintendence of a portreeve, bailiff, and constables, chosen annually by a jury at the court leet of the lord of the manor, the bailiff for the year preceding being invariably appointed to the office of portreeve. The living is a vicarage, in the peculiar jurisdiction of the Bishop of Exeter, rated in the king's books at £30, and in the patronage of twelve lay governors, incorporated by charters of Edward VI. and Elizabeth, by whom the church is kept in repair. The church, dedicated to the Holy Cross, is a spacious and magnificent cruciform structure, with a square embattled tower rising from the centre; it was erected, or rather rebuilt, in the reign of Henry VII., and is a fine specimen of the later English style of architecture, which at that time was in its highest perfection. There are places of worship for Baptists, Independents, Wesleyan Methodists, and Unitarians. The grammar school was founded by Edward VI., and further endowed by Queen Elizabeth, who by her charter provided for the gratuitous instruction of four boys, to each of whom forty shillings are annually given; the school, which is open to all boys of the parishes of Crediton and Sandford, on the payment of £ 5 per annum, is under the management of the twelve governors, who appoint the master, to whom they pay a salary of £30 per annum, and nominate the four free boys: there are three exhibitions, of £ 6. 13. 4. each, to either of the Universities, tenable for five years, belonging to this school; and annexed to the mastership is the perpetual curacy of Kennerley. The Blue-coat school, founded about the year 1730, by subscription, and since endowed with various benefactions, was incorporated with an English school in 1814, and placed under one master, in a house erected, in 1806, by the trustees of Sir John Hayward's charity; the annual income of these united schools is £116. 12.: about one hundred and fifty children are instructed on Dr. Bell's system, eighty of them being also clothed. A mathematical school was founded, in 1794, by Mr. Samuel Dunn, who endowed it with £600 stock, now in the four per cents.; in this school twelve boys are instructed in reading, writing, and arithmetic, and in navigation and land-surveying,: if required. Almshouses with small endowments were founded by Mr. Humphrey Sparway, in 1557, and by Mr. John Davie, in 1620. Near the church are some slight remains of the episcopal palace, and of the chapel of St. Lawrence, anciently connected with one of the prebends of the collegiate church: in North-street is an ancient building, said to have formed part of the dean's house, in a portion of which, supposed to have been the refectory, the ancient ceiling is still preserved. Winifred, Archbishop of Mentz, and legate under several of the popes, who was eminently successful in promulgating the doctrines of Christianity among the Mercians, and suffered martyrdom in the year 354, was a native of this place.


UTON, a tything in the parish of CREDITON, and hundred of CREDITON, county of DEVON, 2 miles (W. S. W.) from Crediton, with which the population is returned.