The outstanding feature of this small chapel (formerly called St Nicholas’ Chapel) is the C15th French merchant’s chest that serves as its altar. A nativity scene on its central panel is exquisitely carved.
The Chapel was the scene of a miracle in 1315, when a blind man from Keynsham, near Bristol received his sight after praying there. A full account of this can be found in the register of Bishop Stapeldon for 1315. The register relates that the man, Thomas Grey, was a fuller from Keynsham (between Bristol and Bath) who had become blind overnight during Easter 1315. He and his wife came to Crediton on June 28th 1315, went to Holy Cross Church and started to pray in the St. Nicholas’ Chapel (this is now called the Friends’ Chapel) where they stayed through the night into the following day, St. Peter’s Day. They were still there when Bishop Walter Stapeldon began the High Mass for St. Peter’s Day. The Epistle had been read and the Gospel procession was making its way down the nave when, still kneeling in front of the St. Nicholas altar, Thomas suddenly received his sight back.
After Mass, Bishop Walter was told about what had happened and he asked Thomas Grey to meet him in the church the following day to give him some details, and if possible to provide some evidence of the truth of what had happened (very necessary when claims such as this are made).
A meeting was held in the Lady Chapel of Holy Cross the following day (Friday 30th June 1315) to consider the miracle. Present were Walter Stapeldon, Bishop of Exeter, his staff, some of the townspeople of Crediton and Thomas Grey and his wife. Thomas Grey – who was on oath – began by telling the group that on the evening of the Thursday of the Holy Week 1315 he had gone to bed after dinner (his room, he told them, was just above his front door). There was nothing wrong with his sight. When he awoke on Good Friday he was completely blind – and had remained like that until yesterday.
Bishop Walter looked at him and asked if he could see him, to which Thomas Grey replied “yes.” The bishop then gave him some simple tests, which included asking him to pick out the finger with the bishop’s ring on it! Thomas gave the right answers. Walter Stapeldon then asked Thomas if any of his neighbours in Keynsham could confirm the early part of his story. He gave a list of six people who could do this.
The bishop then asked Thomas how he knew that he should come to Crediton Church. He replied that one day he had fallen asleep and had had a vision in which he took a journey to Crediton, went to the church and had received his sight back.
Mrs. Grey confirmed what Thomas had just told the bishop (apart, of course, from the bit about the vision).Thomas Grey’s neighbours Walter of Greenway, John Raulfe, Walter Keteforde, John Keteforde, William le Thechere and Adam le Thechere were brought from Keynsham and were asked – under oath – about his blindness. They confirmed that this had been obvious since Easter.
When the bishop had thoroughly investigated Thomas Grey’s claims, he was satisfied that a miracle had occurred. He therefore ordered the assembled Canons and Vicars of Holy Cross to hold an immediate service of praise and thanksgiving and for the Church bells to be rung.
The modern wooden sculpture on a marble block (installed in the 1980’s) commemorates the miracle.
Against the wall to your right are two display boards (paid for by the Heritage Lottery Fund) that try, through reproductions of images of people, places, documents and artefacts, to give an illustrated history of the church.
On the opposite wall is a replica of a brass from Exeter Cathedral. This commemorates Canon William Langton (d 1413) who was a both a canon of Exeter Cathedral and of Holy Cross, Crediton. In his will he described the Norman nave of the church as being “now nearly levelled to the ground.” His bequest, and others of around the same time, brought enough money for a complete rebuilding of the nave and chancel areas, which started in the early years of the fifteenth century. The architectural style is Perpendicular Gothic.
Ascend the chancel steps.