St Wystan's Church
History of the building
There has been a church building on St. Wystan’s site since around 675 following the arrival of missionaries from Northumbria in 653. The crypt below the east end, possibly originally a baptistery, is believed to date from the early 700s and over the following 100 years was elaborated as a mausoleum for the Mercian royal family. The appearance of the crypt today is therefore probably unchanged from c850, though some authorities suggest a century later.
The dedication to St. Wystan arises from the murder of a prince of the Mercian royal family, interred in the crypt in 849, and canonised following miracles associated with his death.
Over the winter of 873-4 Repton was occupied by an invading Viking army and the church was incorporated in the enclosure of its camp. St. Wystan’s importance derives from the surviving Saxon architecture of the crypt and chancel above, and archaeological remains from the Viking occupation.
Church interior pre 1885
Source: Repton Village History Group
From the Norman Conquest onwards St Wystan’s was a more typical village parish church. The current structure of nave, aisles and tower with its 200ft spire dates from the 14th/15th centuries.
The crypt was forgotten and only rediscovered in 1779 at the time when antiquarian interest in ancient buildings was starting.
The medieval interior was stripped in 1792 and new densely packed pews filled the church with galleries subsequently added above the north and south aisles. The east end of the nave was reconstructed in 1854 with the replacement of Saxon columns with replicas of the 14th century pillars in the rest of the nave.
A major restoration took place in 1885-6 by Sir Arthur Blomfield replacing the pews, lowering the nave floor, repairing the roof, and removing the aisle galleries. The interior is largely unchanged since then. A new vestry was built in the north-west corner in 1939. The west end was re-ordered in 2009-10 incorporating a kitchen and toilets.
For details of the building history see the website http://reptonchurch.uk and Dr Harold Taylor’s St Wystan’s Church Repton – a guide and history available in church.
You can also download the following leaflets: