St. Boniface Project
In 2014 the Town Team explored what made Crediton unique; we have award-winning bakers, butchers, cheese and cider makers, brewers and industrial companies, but, alas, so do many other towns.
When someone suggested St Boniface we were not sure how, if at all, we might be able to tell his story in a modern way. A towering religious figure from seventh century Crediton, and still renowned in Germany and Holland, he travelled widely in Europe, converted pagans to Christianity, famously chopped down their sacred oak tree, set up many churches, walked or rode to Rome three times, was blessed by the Pope, then years later was killed by pagans who stabbed him through his bible. A distinctive story certainly, but how to make that interesting today?
It was the High Street Flags Project which pointed a way forward. What was starting the emerge with all the many different flag designs was an artistic form and theme of ‘figures and shapes of light through colour’, so when someone mentioned that Boniface’s story-sequence existed in eight stained glass windows in the parish church we sensed a way forward.
We asked our flags artist Charlotte Turner if she could roughly replicate and stylise those windows in the same rip-stop nylon fabric she used for the flags. The results were really exciting.
We asked a local blacksmith to make metal frames to hang the banners from and that echoed the arches of the real stained-glass windows.
On 5 June in 2014 and 2015, St Boniface’s Day, we used actors to re-enact Boniface’s story in the open-air of the Town Square and Newcombes Meadow. Lots of schoolchildren attended, as did local clergy and some out-of-town visitors
Encouraged by these events we looked for a way of re- telling Boniface’s story not on just on one day of the year but all year round and in such a way that visitors might extend their stay, do some shopping, visit our churches, meet local people, go for country walks nearby or just stop for a coffee and get to know the town a bit better.
We sent out cost-estimate requests for eight back-lit interpretation boards to be fabricated and installed around the town, complete with touch-screens linked to our website (which we thought would give more heritage background but also carry news of upcoming events in the town). Our hopes were quickly dashed: £110,000 was the first estimate!
We looked for alternatives. We found website examples of vertical, toughened, laminated glass slabs containing either commercial sign-posting or heritage images inside. They can be made in many different shapes and sizes and were a lot cheaper than the smartboards. They also worked much better for ‘light through colour’.
We looked for eight possible locations around the town while we researched funding sources. We also talked to lots of people, including the Roman Catholic Church (the Boniface National Shrine), the Town Council, The Crediton Chamber of Commerce, the Parish Church and the District Council, each of which supports the project and have made valuable suggestions.
St. Boniface Shrine
Holy Cross Church
Town Square – Market Street
Town Square – North Street
St Lawrence Green
St Saviour’s Way
In June 2017 we were given outline approval to apply to the LEADER fund. We have since been securing landowner permissions, planning permissions, installation estimates and matched funding and hope to submit the final detailed application in November 2017. If successful (we hope to know by the end of January 2018) we hope to have them all made and installed in time for Boniface Day on 5 June 2018.