Four: The High Altar and beyond

Above the High Altar (whose reredos is from the 1920’s) is the Great East Window which commemorates Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in 1897. The upper portion shows incidents in the life of our Lord and lower portion episodes in the life of St Boniface.

10 the base of the East window of Holy Cross
Base of the East window

In December 1308, in what must have been one of the longest services ever in Holy Cross, Bishop Walter de Stapeldon, in his first ordination service as Bishop of Exeter, created a total of 1005 men priests, deacons, sub-deacons and acolytes at this altar.

To the left of the High Altar

Here are two monuments from the early C17th. Nearest the altar is the tomb of Sir William Peryam (d 1604), Church Governor, Chief Baron of the Exchequer and one of the judges at the trial of Mary Queen of Scots. He built the manor house, Little Fulford, (renamed Shobrooke Park in the mid C19th).  Married three times, he had 4 daughters – you can see their small figures with their mother and Sir William’s two other wives underneath his effigy.

1 The Peryam tomb
The Peryam tomb

Peryam’s estate was bought by the family of John Tuckfield (d 1630), his son, Thomas (d 1642) and Thomas’s wife Elizabeth (d 1630) Tuckfield. Their tomb is nearer to the altar rail.


On the opposite side of the chancel


The sedilia, priest’s seats of the early C15th, could have been a gift to the church from the dean commemorated in the recess tomb they back on to.  Carved in alabaster, they suffered severe damaged in the Reformation. A great deal of mediaeval colour survives which was partially restored in the 1970’s by Anna Hulbert, chief restorer to Exeter Cathedral.

9  The sedilia
The sedilia


Across the aisle, south of the chancel

 Here you can be see a blocked entrance with an existing doorway (that gives access to the Chapter House); the lower floor of the Chapter House was a chapel before the Reformation, the upper floor being both the meeting-place of the canons and priests and the treasury. This is now The Governors’ Room (which, for security reasons is not always open to the public) where the Governors have met since 1547. Dendrochronologists have dated the remarkable oak floor planking of the room to the mid 1400’s and it contains old furniture in the form of a Georgian table with 12 chairs, a number of chests, the Governors’ ballot box, Civil War military clothing and equipment and other historical artefacts. Its walls are hung with charity boards. Possibly the most interesting items on display are the two surviving C15th wooden coloured angel bosses. These give an idea of just how magnificent the medieval carved ceiling of the nave must have been.1 Governors' Room

 Go back down the chancel steps and walk down the aisle towards the organ.

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