If the weather allows it you can start your tour of the church outside; this makes it a great deal easier to give you an overview of the very complex history of both the church and its construction? If it is raining, you could begin the tour sitting just inside the church, near the font and listen to this section.
If you don’t have a great deal of time or have no need for a great deal of historic detail, start at stage 2.
Stand with a full view of the entire building, not far from the entrance gate
The Saxon village that became the town of Crediton started near here and the church has a history as long as that of any in Devon, apart, perhaps, from Exeter Cathedral; its records date back to the first half of the C8th.
St Boniface (originally Wynfrith) of Crediton was born near here (in around 680AD) to Christian parents who must have worshipped somewhere nearby. We know that he received his early education in the monastery that existed a little to the west of the present Exeter Cathedral. When he was 14, he moved on to another monastery at Nursling in Hampshire where the church is now dedicated to the saint (as is the Roman Catholic Church in Crediton). He later became abbot.
In his 30’s he felt called to do missionary work and in the early 700’s he sailed to Frisia (now part of the Netherlands). He quickly developed brilliant missionary skills and in 719, Pope Gregory II re-named him Boniface, (Latin for “Doer of Good Deeds”), and gave him the role of Missioner to Germany. He was made Bishop of all Germany in 722, and ten years later became Archbishop of Mainz.
For over 30 years he evangelized throughout the area, bringing tribes and peoples together, becoming known as “The Apostle of Germany”. This missionary zeal was still burning ardently in him when he reached 70 and he decided to spend his last years working among his first converts in Friesland. It was there, in 754, that he was martyred at Dokkum. His shrine is at the abbey he founded at Fulda in Germany.
Boniface is held in far greater esteem on the continent of Europe, particularly in Germany and the Netherlands, than he is in England. The library he founded at Fulda was to become one of the most important of the medieval period in the Latin West. We continue to receive many visitors from these countries, largely because of Crediton’s associations with Boniface.
For more history, click here.
A completely new building, the Boniface Centre, fifty yards to the east (right) of the main church building, was opened in 1991. This very large church hall is beautifully equipped and is a major resource for the whole community. Services are also regularly held there, as are meetings of church, County and District Council, and many other secular groups.
Move towards and enter the church through the south-west porch (with the sundial above it), passing through the fine C17th wrought-iron gates, thought to be the work of local blacksmith Simon Leach.
Turn right after coming through the porch and go along the aisle.