Prepared by S.G.Smith, Crediton, Devonshire, England
1999 sees the 450th anniversary of the Prayer Book Rebellion. In 1549 the Act of Unification made it illegal, as from Whit'Sunday of that year, to continue to use the Latin Prayer Book which was replaced by an English translation. The villagers of Sampford Courtenay objected, and in a fatal fracas outside the Church, began what has come to be known as the 'Western Rebellion'. With hundreds of villagers from all over Devon and Cornwall they marched to Crediton and occupied the town. In London the young King Edward and his Privy Council became alarmed by this news from the West Country. One of the Privy Councillors, Sir Gawan Carew was ordered to go and try to pacify the rebels. At the same time Lord John Russell was ordered to take an army, composed mainly of German and Italian mercenaries, and impose a military solution. Sir Gawan Carew collected a few supporters from Exeter and arrived at Crediton. Somewhere near the narrows in Exeter Road he found his way was barred. On either side of a barricade therewere two barns, one in Fair Park, the other in what was known as Prewse Park.
A contempory account reads :
Carew rode to Kirton to have speech with the rebels who had made themselves strong with such armour and furniture as they had. They entrenched the highway and made a mighty rampart at the town's head. The barns adjoining the said rampart were pierced in the walls with loops and holes for their shot. There was no entry for him into the town, nor yet any conference or speech to be had with them. For the sun being at Cancer and the midsummer moon at full the rebels utterly refused. The thatch of the barns was set alight and the rebels had to withdraw. "The Barns of Kirton" became a battle-cry of a rebellion which soon spread. For six weeks the rebels laid seige to the City of Exeter bringing it almost to the point of surrender. Lord John Russell arrived with his army and after bloody battles at Feniton and Bishop's Clyst, in which over 4000 men died, therebels were defeated.
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The information contained in this web page is correct to the best of my knowledge.