Queen Victoria was born on Wesley Day (May 24th), 1819, and so was 73 years old and had reigned for 55 years when our church was opened in 1892. ‘The beautiful new chapel’ it was called in the Circuit Record.
In that year the Prime Minister, Mr. Gladstone, began his fourth administration, which ended with his resignation in 1894.
Dr. E.W. Benson was Archbishop of Canterbury and Edward Bickersteth was Bishop of Exeter. The Poet Laureate, Alfred Tennyson, died in 1892.
1892 saw the end of the 7ft. gauge to which I.K. Brunel built his railways, the conversion taking place in one week-end, from Friday, May 20th, to the following Monday. Some 213 miles of this was west of Exeter.
The line was already open from Exeter to Barnstaple but it was another 5 years before the first motor-car reached Exeter. This was a Benz, shown in a circus in Pinhoe Road as a special attraction. The first car to drive into Exeter was seen early in 1898, a Daimler, en route from Land’s End to John o’Groats.
Meanwhile, the preachers of Crediton had the use of the Circuit Horse until it was sold in 1852. After this, a horse was hired as needed, with a quarterly collection to pay for it.
Wages and prices were vastly different from those of our day. By 1898 carpenters were getting 6d an hour, bricklayers 6½d, labourers 4½d. But a house in Heavitree, with 3 bedrooms, bath, 2 sitting rooms, with garden front and back, could be rented for £18 per year or purchased for £290. In 1890 St. Anne’s Well Brewery offered its Pale Ale at 14d a gallon, its stout at 18d. An entry in a Mint account book shows that in August 1813, 3 washerwomen were paid 12 shillings for 2 days work and their beer cost 3 shillings and four pence.
It would be a further year before the first Labour MP was elected, and a further 26 years before women received the vote.
Dr. Stephenson, who opened our church, was a distinguished President of Conference. He founded the National Children’s Home in 1869 and the Deaconess Order in 1890. He was Principal of the NCH from 1873-1900. (When the Memorial Plaque was removed from the organ a NCH collecting envelope was found underneath. It named the Principal as the Rev. W. Hodson Smith. He served from 1912-32. The address for NCH shown on the envelope was City Road, this being their Chief Office from 1913-1925).
F.W. Bourne, the Bible Christian President, visited Crediton, as detailed in later pages. The memorial he left to later years was a book - ‘Billy Bray; The King’s Son’. This became, and has remained, a Methodist best-seller.
It is against this background that we examine the history of our church