The religious changes started by Henry VIII, known as the Reformation, not only established the Protestant faith in England, but also saw the confiscation of vast amounts of church land and the dissolution of the monasteries. Crediton's collegiate church was therefore dissolved and the King confiscated the endowment that paid for the priests and church. However, the townspeople of Crediton offered Henry VIII a huge sum of money to return the Church and School to the use of the Parish. This he agreed to do and he prepared the Charter which was issued by the new King, Edward VI, on 2nd April 1547.
"In consideration of £200 (this sum represented a huge amount in those days) of lawful money of England to the hands of our dear father, Henry VIII, late King of England"
The Church of Crediton was returned, to be administered by a group of 12 governors (included on the original list was James Mortimer, of Uton, whose descendant John Mortimer was a Church governor in the 1980's).
All property was to be returned, including the medieval "Schole House"; the 12 governors were directed to pay the Master of "the King's Newe Grammar Schole of Crediton" £10 a year.
This new school was held in a group of buildings of the north side of the church, but there are no written records and the school seems to have declined rapidly.
The Charter of 1560 was issued by Queen Elizabeth I to get the school going again; one of its main provisions was that the school should be called "Queen Elizabeth's Grammar School" although the Governors seem to have ignored this for a number of years.
This charter also raised the Master's Salary to £13 6s 8d and allowed a sum of money for "4 poor scholars" to be taught in the school.
In 1572, the Grammar School was started in the Lady Chapel of Crediton Church where it remained until 1860. Several alterations were made to keep the school room private; they included a door which had to be made to prevent the scholars from climbing out onto the roof of the Church. Little is known about what was taught or how the school was organised, but there is an entry in the Governor's Accounts for 1590: "20 shillings paid for bordes and other things required of ye scholars in playing thyr Tradegies and Comedies in ye scoule". The Governor's Minute Books, from 1594, make several mentions of "scholarships" paid to poor boys, and the list of Headmasters starts with Christopher Bodeleigh and Hugh Deane in 1562.
Western Road, Crediton, Devon, EX17 3LU Tel: 01363 773 401
Queen Elizabeth’s School is now part of the Ted Wragg Trust. Tillhouse Road, Cranbrook, Exeter, EX5 7EE
Registered Company No. 08545109 (England & Wales)