By letters Patent dated the 24th December 1545, Henry VIII completed the dissolution of the College of St. Mary, Ottery and decreed that "for the universal good and common advantage of all and every the inhabitants of the parish of St. Mary of Ottery" there should be four local residents as governors, incorporated by the name of "the Four Governors of the Hereditaments and Goods of the Church of St. Mary, Ottery in the County of Devon that they should have succession for ever". He granted to them "the Church, the Churchyard, the Bell Tower, and or Lady's Chapel, the Vestries, the Cloisters, and the Chapter House, with their appurtenances, lately belonging to the College of St. Mary Ottery", and likewise "the Vicars' House and the Secondaries' House, the Choristers' house and the School house" with the small tithes of the parish.
In 1552, Edward VI ordered the governors to appoint "eight other of the most honest, best, discreetest and quietest of the Parishioners to be associated for their assistance" to deal mainly with financial matters. This constitution continues to the present day.
The vicar was to be paid £20 a year and a schoolmaster £10 a year to "instruct the youth of the parish in the Kynges Newe Grammar Scole of Seynt Marie Oterey"
It interesting to note that the only other Churches vested in Governors are Crediton and Winborne Minster.
Governors of St Marys, Ottery St Mary
Names Left to Right Back Row: Michael White, Chris Stirling, David Hemmings, Brian Waterfield.
Front Row: Geoff Parsons, Arthur Passey (Chairman), Richard Coley, Dr Graham Ward
Absent: Lord Coleridge, John Akers, John Maybery, Norman Lawrence
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