St Wystan's Church, off Willington Road, Repton, established c700.
(SK 302392717) St. Wystan's Church (NAT). (1-2)
An abbey or monastery at Repton was traditionally founded by St David in the 6th century. (3-4)
In 697 Alfritha was abbess at Repton and St Guthlac became a monk there. Two Mercian kings, Aethelbald (died 757) and Wiglaf (died 840) were buried there, as was St Wystan, murdered in 849. Domesday Book does not record the abbey, which seems to justify the tradition that it did not survive the Danish occupation of Repton in 874-5. St Wystan's Church was the former abbey church or minster, which at Domesday was served by two priests and appears to have survived the Danish occupation. (3-5)
Taylor proposed the following time sequence:
(i) The core of the present crypt was the burial chamber of Aethelbald and Wiglaf, built in the mid 8th century.
(ii) The burial chamber was covered by vaulting in the early - mid 9th century and a tall building erected to form the sanctuary of a church with a central tower, porticus and at least 20ft western extension of the nave. An earlier church is suggested close to the sanctuary, as indicated by walls shown on a plan made in 1886-7.
(iii) Western stairways were cut from the north and south porticus into the crypt (as the burial chamber had now become) which gave access to a major relic, perhaps the remains of St Wystan.
(iv) At some unknown date the roof and upper walls of the church were destroyed, probably by fire, and the nave and chancel covered by a single gabled roof at about the height of the present chancel roof. Grade A. (3)
The archaeological sequence of the site can be, conjecturally presented as:
1. Before the present crypt was constructed there existed, to the west of it, a church built of Bunter stone. It is probably no later than c700 AD.
2. The crypt was built in Keuper stone, not earlier than c715. This date is derived from a sceatta found in a sealed layer. The crypt may have been built for King Aethelwald c757.
3. A new building was constructed over the crypt, the old church was demolished and re-used for this new church, though Keuper stone was also used for the lower courses and foundations. This work was carried out before c850.
4. The low Bunter stone walls were carried up in Keuper stone to their present levels, and the crypt possibly before 839.
5. The passages for circulation were cut from the corners of the crypt, most probably before the arrival of the Vikings in 973/4. (6)
The present church with 13th to 15th century and 19th century fabric, including a west tower and spire of 1340, incorporates substantial remains of the Saxon church, namely the chancel, the northeast and southeast angles of the crossing, part of the north transept and the crypt. Interpretation of the Saxon features varies, Clapham placed the church stylistically in the late 10th century, dated the crypt as pre-874 and the recesses and vaulting as 11th century. (7)
Excavation and inspection of the south side of the chancel and crypt of St. Wystan's Church in 1974-1975, clarified many details of the structural sequence and occupation of the site. An early cemetery was followed by domestic and industrial occupation in which quantities of iron-working debris, animal bone, and Saxon window and vessel glass of 6th to 8th century date were found. These deposits were followed by the construction of the crypt, its modification by the addition of a projection to house a south window and the growth of the late Saxon and post-Conquest cemetery. (8)
A detailed description of the existing church. (9)
A Viking sword was excavated from the early medieval cemetery. (10)
Church of St Wystan. Parish Church 9th, 13th, 14th and 15th centuries, restoration 1885-6 by Arthur Bloomfield. Grade I. (11)
The early medieval cemetery was excavated in 1985, it revealed a variety of burial practices, one of the most important being the deposition of coins in the grave, a Scandinavian custom of the 9th and 10th centuries. The excavation of the church proves that the basic structure is pre-Viking. Material from the earlier church, which probably predated the crypt, was used in the construction of the new church over the crypt. (12)
Additional references. (13-18, 23)
The village of Repton lies on the high ground forming the southern edge of the floodplain of the River Trent. The Hawksmoor Formation (Bunter Sandstone), a series of buff to brown, pebbly to coarse-grained sandstones with occasional pebbles, outcrops along the path to the north of the graveyard of St Wystan's church leading to the schoolyard of Repton school. Although much weathered and poorly exposed it is discernible as being similar to the 'brown stone' used in Saxon first phase church building of St Wystan's. (20)
The bells of St Wystan's are of historical significance. The oldest was made in circa 1500 by a Leicester foundry. Another made in 1622 by G Oldfield of Nottingham is a good example of the founder's work. (22)
A Conservation Management Plan for the building was written in 2019. (24)
From the National Heritage List for England:
'SK 3027 6/88 19.1.67
PARISH OF REPTONWILLINGTON ROAD(North Side)Church of St Wystan
Parish church. C9,C13,C14,C15, restoration 1885-6 by Arthur Blomfield. West steeple, aisled nave and chancel. Coursed rubble sandstone and ashlar. Plain tile and lead roofs. West tower of three unequal stages, divided by moulded stringcourses. Moulded plinth. Angle buttresses. The west elevation has a doorway with moulded mid C14 arch and hoodmould. 3-light Perp window above with castellated transom. Hoodmould on headstops. Small trefoiled lancet above and mid C14 2-light bell openings with transom and ogee hoodmould. The south side has a large circular clockface and similar bell openings. The north side has a small trefoiled lancet and similar bell openings, and again similar bell openings to east. Quatrefoil frieze and castellated parapet, gargoyles and four pinnacles. Octagonal stone spire with three tiers of lucarnes. Lean-to C13 north aisle with moulded parapet. Vestry with parapet, and 3 and 4-light mullioned windows. Angle buttresses and one intermediate buttress. Fenestration from the west. Single chamfered lancet, doorway with colonnettes and moulded arch, early C14 window with Y-tracery, 3-light window of stepped lancet lights and a window with Y-tracery. C15 clerestory with seven 2-light windows of cusped four-centred arches under square heads. Battlemented parapet. North aisle east window of three stepped lancet lights. C13 and early C14 south aisle has an east window of three stepped lancets and a single lancet to the west. C15 two storey gabled porch with moulded doorway. Hoodmould continuing as a stringcourse. Crocketed and pinnacled niche above, flanked by 2-light windows of cusped ogees under a flat arch. Angle buttresses with pinnacles. To the west the staircase projection cuts the aisle window. To the east a 2-light window of cusped lights under a flat arch. To the left of the porch an early C14 window of three lancet lights. To the right of the porch is a similar 4-light window and a window with Y-tracery. To the right again a lean-to south transept chapel with plain moulded parapet, angle buttresses, a chimney in the north west angle, a priest's doorway with moulded arch and a 4-light south window under flat arch with curious cusped lozenge tracery, probably C15. Clerestory as on north side. The chancel is tall and unbuttressed, with the crypt below. The lower walls are of fine masonry, the lowest courses forming a plinth of four steps. On the south side two large blocks project, suggesting an external projection. Rectangular 3-light C16 window to the crypt. Between the lintels of these windows and the sill level of the C14 east window is a section of walling of roughly squared blocks of brown stone with massive flat quoins, unique to Repton. Above this the masonry changes to smaller whitish blocks. Chamfered stringcourse surmounted by lesenes ending in curious splayed capitals just below the eaves. C13 north lancet and a similar C20 south lancet incorporating fragments of a blocked original. 4-light east window of plain lancets. There is a second lancet to the right on the north side. Interior: The Anglo-Saxon crypt is reached by two contemporary staircases from the aisles. The crypt measures about 16ft square and about 10ft high and consists of nine almost square bays roofed with domical vaults carried on cross-ribs which spring from two pilasters on each wall and rest on four-centred columns. The columns have moulded bases, spiral fillets and grooved capitals. The pilasters are decorated with blank arches. Double cornice along the north, south and east walls. Each wall has a shallow recess, which may have housed tombs. That to the west has a cornice and above it, a partly filled-in triangular recess. The south porch has C15 plank doors with wrought iron hinges. Inner doorway with flat arch and moulded surround. C15 plank doors. Flanked by free- standing C9 circular columns with capitals like those of the crypt pilasters. These were originally at the east end of the nave arcades and were replaced in 1854. Early C14 six bay arcades, the eastern bays of 1854. Octagonal piers, moulded capitals and double chamfered arches. Moulded hoodmould. Double chamfered chancel arch, dying into the imposts. Triple chamfered tower arch with moulded capitals to the inner order. Hoodmould on head stops. Earlier roofline visible above. On the south side of the chancel is a large roughly cut piscina. At the south east angle of the nave is the upper rood doorway. Monuments: George and Ellen Waklin +1617 and +1614 (south transept) the two figures facing each other across a prayer desk, their child below. John Macauley +1840 (south transept) by Hall of Derby. Slate tablet to Thomas Whitehead +1645 (south transept) erected in 1802 and commemorating a charity he set up. By Stanley of Buxton. Plain tablet of 1779 with swags. In the south aisle, an incised alabaster slab to Gilbert Thacker +1563. In the north aisle; a tablet to Rev Joseph James +1856, by Hall. William Bagshaw Stevens +1800 by E F Evans of Derby. Francis Thacker +1710, a heavy aedicule. Much defaced incised slab set into the floor. Thomas Fisher +1771, a large aedicule. In the last bay of the nave is a tomb chest with an alabaster effigy of a Knight, c1400. C18 communion rails, with turned balusters. Georgian style dado in the chancel of 1935. The chancel has a plaster ceiling and cornice. C19 choir stalls. Brass eagle lectern of 1877. Royal Arms over the south door dated 1772. Rich C19 octagonal font. Under the tower a painted board giving the table of tolls for Willington Bridge. Good Perp style roofs. Stained glass by Powells.
Listing NGR: SK3029927168.'