Parish Church of the Holy Cross


Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Statutory Address:
Parish Church of the Holy Cross, Union Road


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Statutory Address:
Parish Church of the Holy Cross, Union Road

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Mid Devon (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SS 83641 00204


SS834000 672-1/6/167

CREDITON UNION ROAD (north side) Parish Church of the Holy Cross 19/03/51

GV I Parish Church. Bulk of the building early C15 with some fabric of the C12 and C13; major restoration 1848-1877 by John Hayward of Exeter, further work by Hayward and Blomfield 1887-1889, and in 1913 by William Weir. Local volcanic trap and red sandstone ashlar, the C13 masonry rubble, the medieval dressings volcanic trap and Beerstone, the C19 Bathstone. Roof concealed behind parapets, probably lead.

Plan: long east end reflects the collegiate status of church from the C12 to the Reformation. Two bay chancel with chancel aisles; east end three bay Lady Chapel; six bay aisled nave with clerestory and transepts; central crossing tower; south east chapter house; south porch. Lower parts of crossing tower mid C12, upper stages C13. Lady Chapel and south east chapter house C13; church described as "ruinous" in 1413, nave rebuilt early C15.

Exterior: south side is the show front with coped embattled parapets to aisle and clerestory; aisle buttresses with moulded set-offs and copings. Four-light Perpendicular traceried windows to the aisle, three-light to west and east ends; tall three-light Perpendicular traceried clerestory windows, four-light to the choir clerestory. Grand two-storey south porch in third bay from the west, the merlons of the embattled parapet decorated with blind quatrefoils in Beerstone panels. Moulded volcanic trap outer doorway below a two-light square-headed window with cinquefoil-headed lights. The porch is stone vaulted with carved foliage bosses and vaulting shafts with shallow-carved capitals. Moulded inner doorway with a foliage-carved arch. Unusual, possibly C18 wrought iron gate to outer doorway.

The buttressed south transept has a plain coped parapet; six-light Perpendicular traceried south window with a king mullion, four-light window on east return. The semi-circular embattled stair turret to north west corner with a small, flat-roofed porch to the south with a north doorway were added to the designs of George Wightwick, plans dated 1836.

Chapter house two bays on beyond the transept with a five-sided south west stair turret. The chapter house has diagonal buttresses and is partly stone rubble; three storeys with a plain parapet above a moulded string which rises to form the hoodmould of a pair of triple lancets in the second floor centre, flanked by single lancets, all by John Hayward 1864. Two first and three ground floor square-headed windows, the ground floor windows with relieving arches. The west side has two square-headed and one lancet window and a moulded two-centred doorway with a hoodmould and a probably late C17 studded door with Y panelling. The moulded string below the parapet on the east rises as an ogee arch; scattered fenestration of small square-headed windows, two with mullions. The south aisle has a three-light east end window.

The Lady Chapel, projecting beyond the chancel to the east, is rubble masonry with a plain parapet; two three-light C19 Perpendicular style windows to the south and north sides and a blocked doorway on the south to the east. The east end of the chapel has a four-light Perpendicular window, the wall surface above thickens and is corbelled out on either side of the window. The north choir aisle has two three-light windows to the east, then five similar windows westwards to the transept. The window in the third bay from the transept is shorter to accommodate a moulded north doorway with steps up, circa late C17 studded door with Y-panelling and an early C19 overthrow with a lamp. North transept matches the south, including a semi-circular stair turret and porch block by Wightwick, but retains some rubble masonry on the west side. Six bay north aisle, windows matching the south aisle. Third bay from the west is blind above a wide crank-arched doorway carved with ballflowers. Grand west end ensemble, the ends of the aisles flush with the nave which has a massive eight-light Perpendicular traceried window with a king mullion above a moulded doorway with a pair of C19 doors. Three-stage embattled crossing tower with a clasping north-west stair turret. Round-headed windows to the second stage indicate C12 origins; the belfry stage has pairs of very tall, louvred lancets flanked by blind trefoil-headed recesses. Embattled parapet is corbelled out with big octagonal embattled pinnacles with crocketted finials crowned with crosses.

Interior: unplastered walls since the Hayward restoration, the internal masonry mauve volcanic trap and very unusual in colouring. Early C15 nave arcades with moulded arches, the moulding carried down through the piers which moulded bases and engaged corner shafts with foliage-carved capitals. Moulded string with fleurons above the arcade, punctuated with carved corbels supporting the shafts to the C19 (Hayward) tie beam roof with arched braces, pierced spandrels and plainer intermediate ties. Moulded ridge and purlins with moulded diagonal ribs to each bay and carved bosses at the intersections. Clerestory windows have deep, hollow-chamfered rere arches and shafts carried down to the string course. Aisle windows similarly treated, the shafts carried down to the level of low seats. Flat C19 (Hayward) aisle roofs with moulded ribs and carved bosses. The west end has an unusual internal treatment: the projecting, foliage carved sill forms a continuous cornice across the west end with moulded stubwalls flanking the west doorway forming recesses with seats to north and south. Plain double arch to tower, the piers with engaged shafts, capital carving includes scallops; plain, tall, two-centred arches from the aisle into the crossing. Tall ashlar walls divide the choir from the choir aisles. On the south side a pair of tall blocked arches in the south wall, probably leading to a former chapel on the ground floor of the chapter house. The choir has an enriched version of the nave roof, the wall surface is similar to the nave but the vaulting shafts are carried right down to the capitals of the pier shafts. Chancel stepped up with a 1924 reredos by Fellowes Prynne; C14 piscina in the east wall with a cusped head and sexafoil in the gable, the surface dressed back to the wall plane. The south wall contains an early C15 triple sedilia, very damaged, with lierne vaulting. The rear, to the aisle, includes a tomb chest with a vaulted recess and remains of high quality figure carving and original colour.

Fine C13 Lady Chapel with north and south doorways from the aisles with triple chamfered arches on big half shafts with bell capitals. The windows have deep internal splays, the inner arches with shafts carried down to shallow seats below the sills, the east and two eastern windows in the north and south sides with internal hoodmoulds. Blocked doorway on the west wall. Late C13 double-gabled piscina with trefoil-headed arches, re-sited, on the south wall. C19 roof, a simplified version of the others. The transepts also have C19 roofs. Governors' room on the first floor of the chapter house has a chamfered cross beam and closely-spaced joists; a fireplace with chamfered granite lintel and jambs; wide floorboards.

Fittings: Norman font with cover by Caröe of 1904; C19 Perpendicular drum pulpit on a wine glass stem, carved with figures of saints. Choir stalls 1877-87 by Hayward; nave benches and governors' stalls in the choir 1900. C19 floors throughout.

Monuments: Numerous, include tomb chest at the east end of the south choir aisle, said to be Sir John Sully, d.1387 and his wife. In the chancel a standing wall monument to Sir William Perriam, d.1605, has pilasters with an entablature and achievement. The figure of Sir William, leans on one elbow with his family in relief, kneeling on the chest below. 1630 monument, admired by Pevsner, to John and Elizabeth Tuckfield, her figure seated and flanked by medallions with busts of the husband and son, bay divided by black Ionic columns; broken alabaster pediment above. Spectacular monument of 1911 by Caröe, executed Dart and Francis of Crediton, to Sir Redvers Buller, covers the tower arch, facing the nave. Terra cotta sculpted figures, decorated with mosaic; iconography of the memorial thoroughly military with warrior saints and a frieze of Victoria crosses.

Stained Glass: Several good windows by Lavers, Barraud and Westlake; 1913 window in north aisle by Hugh Arnold; armorial window in south transept by Horace Williamson, 1926.

There was a pre-Conquest Cathedral on the site, before Exeter became the centre of the See. After the Reformation, the church was purchased by a group of Crediton worthies and is still run by a committee of self-electing Governors. One of the two largest and grandest parish churches in Devon, the other being Ottery St.Mary. The church is well documented: recent unpublished accounts of the building and its fittings are mostly available in the archives of the Devon Nineteenth-Century Churches Project.

Listing NGR: SS8363800204


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number:
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Books and journals
Pevsner, N, Cherry, B, The Buildings of England: Devon, (1989), 295-7


This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

End of official listing

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Date: 16 Feb 2001
Reference: IOE01/02022/10
Rights: Copyright IoE Michael Woodhead. Source Historic England Archive
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