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Derbyshire UK location map.svg
Red pog.svg
Location within Derbyshire
Population2,707 (2001 census) [1]
OS grid reference SK3026
Shire county
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town Derby
Postcode district DE65
Dialling code 01283
Police Derbyshire
Fire Derbyshire
Ambulance East Midlands
UK Parliament
Website Repton Village Website
List of places
52°50′17″N1°32′56″W / 52.838°N 1.549°W / 52.838; -1.549 Coordinates: 52°50′17″N1°32′56″W / 52.838°N 1.549°W / 52.838; -1.549

Repton is a village and civil parish in the South Derbyshire district of Derbyshire, England, located on the edge of the River Trent floodplain, about 4+12 miles (7 km) north of Swadlincote. The population taken at the 2001 Census was 2,707, increasing to 2,867 at the 2011 Census. [2] Repton is close to the county boundary with neighbouring Staffordshire and about 4+12 miles (7 km) northeast of Burton upon Trent.


The village is noted for St Wystan's Church, Repton School and the Anglo-Saxon Repton Abbey and medieval Repton Priory.


The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle points to Hreopandune as king AEthelbald's resting place Anglo-Saxon Chronicle - hreopandune (British Library Cotton MS Tiberius A VI, folio 12v).jpg
The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle points to Hreopandune as king Æthelbald's resting place

Christianity was reintroduced to the Midlands at Repton, where some of the Mercian royal family under Peada were baptised in AD 653.[ citation needed ] Soon a double abbey under an abbess was built.

In 669 the Bishop of Mercia translated his see from Repton to Lichfield. Offa, King of Mercia, seemed to resent his own bishops paying allegiance to the Archbishop of Canterbury in Kent who, while under Offa's control, was not of his own kingdom of Mercia.[ citation needed ] Offa therefore created his own Archdiocese of Lichfield, which presided over all the bishops from the Humber to the Thames. Repton was thus the forebear of the archdiocese of Lichfield, a third archdiocese of the English church: Lichfield, the other two being Canterbury and York. This lasted for only 16 years, however, before Mercia returned to being under the Archbishopric of Canterbury.

At the centre of the village is the Church of England parish church dedicated to Saint Wigstan of Mercia. [3]

In 873–74 the Great Heathen Army overwintered at Repton, one of only a few places in England where a Viking winter camp has been located. Excavations from 1974 to 1988 found a D-shaped earthwork on a bluff, overlooking an arm of the River Trent, and opened a mound containing a mass grave. The mass grave contained the remains of at least 264 individuals. The bones were disarticulated and mostly jumbled together. Forensic study revealed that the individuals ranged in age from their late teens to about forty, 80% were male where sex could be determined. Five associated pennies fit well with the overwintering date of 873–74 and this date was later confirmed by a reassessment of the radiocarbon dates. [4] [5]

An early 18th century account describes how, in the last quarter of the 17th century, Thomas Walker, a workman looking for stone, opened the mound and found the skeleton of a "nine foot tall" man in a stone coffin in the remains of a building. According to the account, human bones had been neatly stacked around the coffin. [6]

Parish church

St Wystan's church and the cross in 1890 ReptonCrossAndChurch.jpg
St Wystan's church and the cross in 1890

The church is notable for its Anglo-Saxon crypt, which was built in the 8th century AD [7] as a mausoleum for the Mercian royal family. Wystan, or Wigstan, was a prince of Mercia who was murdered by his guardian in 849, [3] in the reign of Wiglaf. His remains were buried in the crypt at Repton and miracles were ascribed to them. Repton proceeded to become a place of pilgrimage; Wigstan was later canonised and became the patron saint of the church. At the north edge of the village is St Wystan's Church, an Anglo-Saxon church dedicated to the Anglo-Saxon Saint Wystan (or Wigstan) and designated by English Heritage as a Grade I listed building. [8] The 8th-century crypt beneath the church was the original burial place of Saint Wigstan, as well as his grandfather, King Wiglaf of Mercia. Also buried there is King Æthelbald of Mercia, under whose reign the building was first constructed, and for whom it was first converted to a mausoleum. Upon the burial of St Wigstan, the crypt became a shrine and place of pilgrimage. [9]

It has been suggested that the crypt at Repton later influenced the design of both the spiral-columned shrine of Edward the Confessor and the Cosmati Coronation Pavement in Westminster Abbey, both commissioned by Henry III, based on close correspondence of their dimensions and design. [10] [11]

The cruciform Anglo-Saxon church itself has had several additions and restorations throughout its history. These include Medieval Gothic north and south aisles in the nave that were rebuilt in the 13th century and widened early in the 14th century, and the addition in 1340 of the west tower and recessed spire. [12] The church was also restored between 1885 and 1886 by Arthur Blomfield. [13]

Notable residents

See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Mercia</span> One of the kingdoms of the Anglo-Saxon Heptarchy (527–918)

Mercia was one of the three notable Anglic kingdoms founded after Sub-Roman Britain was settled by Anglo-Saxons in an era called the Heptarchy. It was centred around the River Trent and its tributaries, in a region now known as the Midlands of England.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Offa of Mercia</span> 8th-century Anglo-Saxon King of Mercia

Offa was King of Mercia, a kingdom of Anglo-Saxon England, from 757 until his death. The son of Thingfrith and a descendant of Eowa, Offa came to the throne after a period of civil war following the assassination of Æthelbald. Offa defeated the other claimant, Beornred. In the early years of Offa's reign, it is likely that he consolidated his control of Midland peoples such as the Hwicce and the Magonsæte. Taking advantage of instability in the kingdom of Kent to establish himself as overlord, Offa also controlled Sussex by 771, though his authority did not remain unchallenged in either territory. In the 780s he extended Mercian Supremacy over most of southern England, allying with Beorhtric of Wessex, who married Offa's daughter Eadburh, and regained complete control of the southeast. He also became the overlord of East Anglia and had King Æthelberht II of East Anglia beheaded in 794, perhaps for rebelling against him.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ecgberht, King of Wessex</span> 8th and 9th-century Anglo-Saxon King of Wessex

Ecgberht, also spelled Egbert, Ecgbert, Ecgbriht, Ecgbeorht, and Ecbert, was King of Wessex from 802 until his death in 839. His father was King Ealhmund of Kent. In the 780s, Ecgberht was forced into exile to Charlemagne's court in the Frankish Empire by the kings Offa of Mercia and Beorhtric of Wessex, but on Beorhtric's death in 802, Ecgberht returned and took the throne.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Æthelbald of Mercia</span> 8th-century King of Mercia

Æthelbald was the King of Mercia, in what is now the English Midlands from 716 until he was killed in 757. Æthelbald was the son of Alweo and thus a grandson of King Eowa. Æthelbald came to the throne after the death of his cousin, King Ceolred, who had driven him into exile. During his long reign, Mercia became the dominant kingdom of the Anglo-Saxons, and recovered the position of pre-eminence it had enjoyed during the strong reigns of Mercian kings Penda and Wulfhere between about 628 and 675.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Æthelred of Mercia</span> 7th and 8th-century King of Mercia

Æthelred was king of Mercia from 675 until 704. He was the son of Penda of Mercia and came to the throne in 675, when his brother, Wulfhere of Mercia, died from an illness. Within a year of his accession he invaded Kent, where his armies destroyed the city of Rochester. In 679 he defeated his brother-in-law, Ecgfrith of Northumbria, at the Battle of the Trent: the battle was a major setback for the Northumbrians, and effectively ended their military involvement in English affairs south of the Humber. It also permanently returned the kingdom of Lindsey to Mercia's possession. However, Æthelred was unable to re-establish his predecessors' domination of southern Britain.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Coenwulf of Mercia</span> King of Mercia from 796 to 821

Coenwulf was the King of Mercia from December 796 until his death in 821. He was a descendant of King Pybba, who ruled Mercia in the early 7th century. He succeeded Ecgfrith, the son of Offa; Ecgfrith only reigned for five months, and Coenwulf ascended the throne in the same year that Offa died. In the early years of Coenwulf's reign he had to deal with a revolt in Kent, which had been under Offa's control. Eadberht Præn returned from exile in Francia to claim the Kentish throne, and Coenwulf was forced to wait for papal support before he could intervene. When Pope Leo III agreed to anathematise Eadberht, Coenwulf invaded and retook the kingdom; Eadberht was taken prisoner, was blinded, and had his hands cut off. Coenwulf also appears to have lost control of the kingdom of East Anglia during the early part of his reign, as an independent coinage appears under King Eadwald. Coenwulf's coinage reappears in 805, indicating that the kingdom was again under Mercian control. Several campaigns of Coenwulf's against the Welsh are recorded, but only one conflict with Northumbria, in 801, though it is likely that Coenwulf continued to support the opponents of the Northumbrian king Eardwulf.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Coenred of Mercia</span> 8th-century King of Mercia

Coenred was king of Mercia from 704 to 709. Mercia was an Anglo-Saxon kingdom in the English Midlands. He was a son of the Mercian king Wulfhere, whose brother Æthelred succeeded to the throne in 675 on Wulfhere's death. In 704, Æthelred abdicated in favour of Coenred to become a monk.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Wiglaf of Mercia</span> 9th-century King of Mercia

Wiglaf was King of Mercia from 827 to 829 and again from 830 until his death. His ancestry is uncertain: the 820s were a period of dynastic conflict within Mercia and the genealogy of several of the kings of this time is unknown. Wigstan, his grandson, was later recorded as a descendant of Penda of Mercia, so it is possible that Wiglaf was descended from Penda, one of the most powerful seventh-century kings of Mercia.

Beornred (?-757) was a Mercian Thane who was briefly King of Mercia in 757. Beornred ascended the throne following the murder of King Æthelbald. However, he was defeated by Offa and forced to flee the country, and was killed that same year. There is very little information about him and mentions about him are commonly brief.

Wigstan, also known as Saint Wystan, was the son of Wigmund of Mercia and Ælfflæd, daughter of King Ceolwulf I of Mercia.

Beorhtwulf was King of Mercia, a kingdom of Anglo-Saxon England, from 839 or 840 to 852. His ancestry is unknown, though he may have been connected to Beornwulf, who ruled Mercia in the 820s. Almost no coins were issued by Beorhtwulf's predecessor, Wiglaf, but a Mercian coinage was restarted by Beorhtwulf early in his reign, initially with strong similarities to the coins of Æthelwulf of Wessex, and later with independent designs. The Vikings attacked within a year or two of Beorhtwulf's accession: the province of Lindsey was raided in 841, and London, a key centre of Mercian commerce, was attacked the following year. Another Viking assault on London in 851 "put Beorhtwulf to flight", according to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle; the Vikings were subsequently defeated by Æthelwulf. This raid may have had a significant economic impact on Mercia, as London coinage is much reduced after 851.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Wistanstow</span> Human settlement in England

Wistanstow is a village and parish in Shropshire, England. Wistanstow is located about 5 miles (8.0 km) south of Church Stretton and 8+12 miles (13.7 km) north of Ludlow. It is about 2 miles (3.2 km) north of Craven Arms. It is just off the main Shrewsbury-Hereford road, the A49. The large parish, of 5,231 acres, includes a number of other small settlements: Woolston, Upper Affcot, Cwm Head, Bushmoor, Strefford, Whittingslow, Felhampton and Cheney Longville, and a population of 724 was recorded in the 2001 census, increasing to 812 at the 2011 Census.

Hygeberht was the Bishop of Lichfield from 779 and Archbishop of Lichfield after the elevation of Lichfield to an archdiocese some time after 787, during the reign of the powerful Mercian king Offa. Little is known of Hygeberht's background, although he was probably a native of Mercia.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Great Heathen Army</span> Norse invasion of England in 865

The Great Heathen Army, also known as the Viking Great Army, was a coalition of Scandinavian warriors who invaded England in AD 865. Since the late 8th century, the Vikings had been engaging in raids on centres of wealth, such as monasteries. The Great Heathen Army was much larger and aimed to conquer and occupy the four kingdoms of East Anglia, Northumbria, Mercia and Wessex.

There were a number of Synods of Chelsea held in Anglo-Saxon England. They were held at Cealchythe, in Kent, generally identified with modern Chelsea, London.

Events from the 9th century in England.

Events from the 8th century in England.

Repton Abbey was an Anglo-Saxon Benedictine abbey in Derbyshire, England. Founded in the 7th century, the abbey was a double monastery, a community of both monks and nuns. The abbey is noted for its connections to various saints and Mercian royalty; two of the thirty-seven Mercian Kings were buried within the abbey's crypt. The abbey was abandoned in 873, when Repton was overrun by the invading Great Heathen Army.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Grade I listed churches in Derbyshire</span>

Derbyshire is a county in the East Midlands of England. The ceremonial county of Derbyshire includes the unitary authority of the city of Derby. This is a complete list of the Grade I listed churches and chapels in the ceremonial county as recorded in the National Heritage List for England. Buildings are listed by the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport on the recommendation of Historic England. Grade I listed buildings are defined as being of "exceptional interest, sometimes considered to be internationally important"; only 2.5 per cent of listed buildings are included in this grade.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">St Wystan's Church, Repton</span> Church in United Kingdom

St Wystan's Church is a Church of England parish church in Repton, Derbyshire that is famous for its Anglo-Saxon crypt which is the burial place of two Mercian kings. The church is recorded in the National Heritage List for England as a designated Grade I listed building, and is dedicated to the Anglo-Saxon Saint Wystan, who was formerly buried within the church's crypt.


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  10. Austin, Sue. "Revealed: Links between Shropshire country hall and the King's Coronation". Retrieved 24 April 2023.
  11. Wenn, James. "Revealed: Secrets in the Stones: Decoding Anglo-Saxon Art. Part 4: The Garnet Code". Retrieved 24 April 2023.
  12. Pevsner & Williamson, 1978, page 305
  13. Derby Mercury – Wednesday 28 July 1886
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Further reading