Just before the tower is a wooden effigy of Saint Boniface (shown as Wynfrith – his name when he lived in Crediton) from 1980, by local sculptor Witold Kavalec. Boniface is also commemorated in several C19th and C20th stained-glass windows around the church.
Chapel of St Nicholas
To your right is the Chapel of St Nicholas, which forms the south transept of the church. The coffin slabs against the south wall are probably those of prebendaries; the armorial stained glass window above them (from the 1920’s) shows the shields of various families, dignitaries and clergy associated with Crediton down the ages.
On the west side of the transept the doorway you can see at first-floor level gave access in medieval times to a gallery. It was long ago removed (there was a similar one in the north transept and one against the west wall of the nave –both removed). They were placed there in the C15th for the vicars-choral to provide musical effects (the Minstrel’s gallery in Exeter Cathedral had the same function).
Mediaeval Rood Screen
We have no clear evidence of the existence of a mediaeval rood screen – although there almost certainly was one. It would have run from the south wall, across the west face of the tower, then to the north wall. Inventories list several of the sorts of paintings that used to be propped against rood screens (in a post-Reformation one of 1559 they are shown as being defaced). The screen would have acted as a boundary between the parish section of the church and the collegiate. There were probably a total of eight altars in the collegiate church.
Near the very end of the aisle on the left, just before the wooden doorway
Here is an early C15th recess tomb in alabaster, backed by sedilia. The monument is probably that of an early Dean of Crediton. Although the frieze of figures above the recess was damaged with the rest of the tomb at the Reformation, its subjects have been identified; we believe that it depicts episodes in the lives of both Christ and his mother, Mary. A great deal of mediaeval colour, partially restored in the 1970’s, survives on the tomb.
At the far end of the aisle in the centre
Sir John de Sully
This is a tomb chest that carries the effigies of Sir John de Sully KG and his wife Isobel. Born in 1281, Sir John died at the remarkable age of 106 in 1387 in one of his manor houses sited near Crediton. He was one of the Black Prince’s officers and from a testimony that he gave to the Court of Chivalry in 1385 (it survives in the National Archives) we know that he fought in most of the important battles of the Scottish Wars of the early C14th (possibly including Bannockburn in 1314) and in those of the first 30 years of the Hundred Years War, including Crècy, Poitiers, and Winchelsea.
At the age of nearly eighty (on 24th April, 1361), Sir John was granted a very special privilege by the king. The document by which this was done is still in state records, the Patent Rolls. By the scroll Sully was allowed: ‘Once in every year during his life, in any of the royal forests, parks or chases in the realm, to have one shot with his bow, one course with his hounds, and one chase for his dog called Bercellette.’
The last full-scale battle mentioned in the testimony – and as far as we know, the last conflict in which Sir John was involved – was that of Najera (sometimes spelt Najara and called la bataille de Spaigne in the deposition) on 3rd April, 1367. Sully was about 86 years old when he pulled on his armour for the last time!
On 23rd August, 1361, the first St George’s day after the death of Reginald, Lord Cobham, one of the twenty-five “First Founders” of the Order of the Garter, Sir John was admitted in his place, becoming (by date of appointment) the thirty-ninth knight of the order. This was very great honour indeed.
Sully’s tomb used to be in the north transept, but was moved to this aisle when the organ was installed.
Go through the wooden doorway opposite the tomb
5 to the Lady Chapel. This was rather poorly constructed in the Decorated Gothic style of the late C13th. From 1572-1860 the chapel housed Crediton’s Grammar School, a fact recorded on a tablet over the blocked entrance to the school in the south-east corner of the chapel. Diametrically opposite this, on the west wall of the chapel, is the walled-up entrance to a reliquary behind the High Altar. The Lady Chapel is still used for services and by our choir for practice and robing.
Go through the wooden doorway facing you to the Friends’ Chapel.