The Goverors are responsible for maintaining the building and fabric of Holy Cross. The Governors are legal owners of the church and hold it in trust for the town’s people of the Ancient Parish of Crediton. They work alongside the Rector and the PCC, who deal with the day to day running of the church.
Duties today include: insuring the church, ensuring the upkeep of the church and maintaining Holy Cross and its precincts. Other churches the Governors are responsible for are the chancel of St Martin’s Exminster; the upkeep of St Lawrence, Crediton and there is some responsibility for Knowle Church. All this in addition to the provision of “poor relief” in Crediton, Sandford and Exminster.
The Governors today are: Andrew White, , William Parr, Mrs Helen Lawes, Michael Beskeen, Colin Clark*, Miss Christine Nicholl, Jonathan Ward, Simon Lee, George Mortimer, Ernest Heard, Rosie Cheriton* and Jim King*.
* The three Governors representing Sandford.
History of the Governors
By the Charter of Edward VI of 1547, the Church was handed over to all the inhabitants of the ancient parish. Twelve men were appointed, viz. Gilbert Gale, John Bodleigh, Robert Trobridge, Robert Davie, John Holcombe, William Shilstone, Thomas Harris, John Wele, John Hellyer, James Mortimore, John Atwill and William Moxhay, to be the first Governors of the Hereditaments and Goods of the Parish Church of Crediton otherwise Kyrton, in the County of Devon. The qualification for this body is that they should own property within the said Parish and that they should attend meetings regularly. Three of the Governors should always be of the Parish and Hamlet of Sandford.
Their duties were threefold:
1. Maintain the fabric of the church so that there should be “an increase in Divine Service”
2. Establish a Grammar School that the kingdom may be “adorned and decked with men to the universal profit of our realm” and
3. Feed, clothe and house the poor.
Added to these the Governors were to have special rights eg the patronage of the Church of Crediton, St Martin’s Church at Exminster and the appointment of two chaplains, one for Sandford and one to assist at Crediton. To pay for all these duties, the Corporation was endowed with the tithes of the ancient prebends of the old College of Priests, together with certain lands at Exminster. In today’s world, nearly all lands and interest in lands have been converted into shares in the Charities Official Investment Fund.
The Governors are a closed Corporation i.e. when one dies, retires or is dismissed, the remaining Governors elect a replacement. In 1995 the first woman Governor was elected.
Court of Chancery
All such bodies were for centuries under the jurisdiction of the Court of Chancery. In 1625, for instance, the Court was obliged to remind the Governors of their duties and to reiterate some of the obligations imposed upon them which had plainly been neglected. The eighteenth century was not one of feverish activity by the Governors and by the 1850’s various parts of their duties were ill understood. New definition was needed, not least the level of pay for the clergy and the schoolmaster. After lengthy negotiations Vice Chancellor Kindersley of the Court of Chancery issued a judgement which has served as a new model on which to manage the Governor’s affairs. The Charity Commission has now taken over the supervision of all such bodies.
The Governors’ Room
Of course many things have changed, e.g. the Grammar School became partly state-endowed in 1880 and a new body of Governors for it was appointed, only some of the Church Governors being on that new body. Sandford became a separate parish in 1930 with its own Rector, although he was still appointed by the Governors. In 2002, Sandford has once more come into the fold with the appointment of Reverend Nigel Guthrie as the Rector of the combined Parish of Crediton, Shobrooke and Sandford with Upton Hellions.
The Governors are still patrons of the living and take the initiative when there is a vacancy but it is recognised that the Bishop must be consulted as he licenses all diocesan clergy; similarly, the Parochial Church Councils of Crediton, Shobrooke and Sandford have a legal input into the decision. At the appointment of 2002, the three bodies co-operated with singular unity which augers well for the future.
The Governors’ Voting Box