F. C. (Frederick Charles). 4n Hipkins.

Repton and its neighbourhood : a descriptive guide of the archæology, &c. of the district online

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i^nrmilS m'ilf^iT?', PUBLIC LIBRARY

3 1833 00673 8725

T{ep\on Church.




Illustrated by Photogravures, &c.

F. C. HIPKI NS, M.A., F.S.A.,



^ i 1 . -5 / J.






N the year 1892, I ventured to write, for
Reptonians, a short History of Repton, its
quick sale emboldened me to set about obtaining
materials for a second edition. The list of Authors,
&c., consulted (printed at the end of this preface), will
V enable any one, Avho wishes to do so, to investigate the
J various events further, or to prove the truth of the
facts recorded. Round the Church, Priory, and School
centre all that is interesting, and, naturally, they occupy
nearly all the pages of this second attempt to supply all
the information possible to those who live in, or visit our
old world village, whose church, &c., might well have
served the poet Gray as the subject of his Elegy,

" Beneath those rugged Elms, that Yow-tree's shade,
Where heaves tlie I'urf in many a mould'riiig Heap,
Each in liis narrow (^ell for ever laid,
The rude Forefabliers of tlie Hamlet sleep."

In writing the history of Repton certain events stand

out more prominently than others, t?^ , the Conversion

of Mercia by Diuma, its first bishop, and his assistant

missionaries, Adda, Betti, and Cedda, the brother of St.

Chad : the Founding of the Monastery during the reign



of Peada or his brother Wulphere (a.d. 655—675) : the
coming of the Danes in 874, and the destruction of the
Abbey and town by them : the first building of Repton
Church, probably during the reign of Edgar the Peace-
able, A.D. 957 : the Founding of the Priory by Maud,
Countess of Chester, about the year 1150, its dissolution
in 1538, its destruction in 1553, and the Founding of the
School in 1557. Interwoven with these events are others
which have been recorded in the Chronicles, Histories,
Registers, &c., consulted, quoted, and used to produce
as interesting an account as possible of those events,
which extend over a period of nearly twelve hundred and
fifty years !

The hand of time, and man, especially the latter,
has gradually destroyed anything ancient, and " restora-
tions" have completely changed the aspect of the village.
The Church, Priory, Hall, and " Cross," still serve as
links between the centuries, but, excepting these, only
one old house remains, in Well Lane, bearing initials
" T.S." and date " 1686."

Even the Village Cross was restored ! Down to the
year 1806, the shaft was square, with square capital, in
which an iron cross was fixed. In Bigsby's History of
Repton, (p. 261), there is a drawing of it, and an account
of its restoration, by the Rev. R. R. Rawlins.

During the last fifteen years the old house which
stood at the corner, (adjoining Mr Cattley's house,)
in which the " Cour/ Lee/'' was held, and the "round-
house " at the back of the Post Office, with its octagonal-


shaped walls and roof, and oak door, studded with iron
nails, have also been destroyed.

The consequence is that the History of Repton is
chiefly concerned with ancient and mediaeval times.

The Chapters on the Neighbourhood of Repton
have been added in the hope that they may prove useful
to those who may wish to make expeditions to the towns
and villages mentioned. More might have been included,
and more written about them, the great difficulty was to
curtail both, and at the same time make an interesting,
and intelligible record of the chief points of interest in
the places described.

In conclusion, I wish to return thanks to those
who by their advice, and information have helped me,
especially the Rev. J. Charles Cox, LL.D., Author of
•' Derbyshire Churches," &c., J. T. Irvine, Esq., and
^Messrs. John Thompson and Sons who most kindly
supplied me with plans of Crypt, and Church, made
during the restorations of 1885- 6.

For the many beautiful photographs, my best
thanks are due to Miss INI. H. Barham, W. B.
Hawkins, Esq., and C. B. Hutchinson, Esq., and


Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, (Rolls Series).

Bassano, Francis. Church Notes, (1710).

Bade, Venerable. Ecclesiastical History.

Bigsby, Rev. Robert. History of Repton, (1854).

Birch, W. de Gray. Memorials of St. Guthlac.

Browne, (Right Rev. Bishop of Bristol). Conversion of
the Heptarchy.

Cox, Rev J. Charles. Churches of Derbyshire.

Derbyshire Archaeological Journal, (1879 — 98).

Eckenstein, Miss Lina. Women under Monasticism.

Diocesan Histories, (S.P.C.K).

Dugdale. Monasticon.

Evesham, Chronicles of, (Rolls Series).

Gentleman's Magazine.

Glover, S. History of Derbyshire, (1829).

Green, J. R. Making of England.

Ingulph. History.

Leland. Collectanea.

Lingard. Anglo-Saxon Church.

Lysons. Magna Britannia, (Derbyshire), (1817).

Paris, Matthew. Chronicles, (Rolls Series).

Pilkington, J. " A View of the Present State of Derby-
shire," (1789).

Repton Church Registers.

Repton School Register.

Searle, W G. Onomasticon Anglo-Saxonicum.

Stebbing Shaw. History of Staffordshire.
„ ,, Topographer.

Tanner Notitia Monastica.



List of Illustrations - - - - ix

Chapter I.
Repton (General) - - - i

Chapter II.
Repton (^Historical) — The place-name Repton, &c. 6

Chapter III.
Repton's Saints (^Guthlac and Wystan) - - ii

Chapter IV.
Repton Church - - - - - 17

Chapter V.
Repton Church Registers - - - - 25

Chapter VI.
Repton's Merry Bells - - - - 42

Chapter VII.
The Priory - - - - - 50

Chapter VIII.
Repton School - - - - - 61


Chapter IX.


Repton School v. Gilbert Thacker - - 65

Chapter X.

Repton Tile-Kiln - - - 71

Chapter XI.

Repton School Tercentenary and Founding of the

School Chapel, &c. - - - - 75

Chapter XII.

School Houses, &c. - - - - 81

Chapter XIII.

Chief Events referred to, or described - - 87

Chapter XIV.

The Neighbourhood of Repton. - 91

Ashby-de-la-Zouch - - - - 92

Barrow, Swarkeston, and Stanton-by-Bridge - 99

Bretby and Hartshorn - - - - 104

Egginton, Stretton, and Tutbury - - - 108

Etwall and its Hospital - - - - 115

Foremark and Anchor Church - - - 121

Melbourne and Breedon - - - - 124

Mickle-Over, Finderne, and Potlac - - 127

Newton Solney - - - - 130

Tickenhall, Calke, and Staunton Harold - - 132

Index - ... _ . 137



1. Repton Church - - - frontispiece

2. Prior Overton's Tower - to fnce pose i

3. Repton Church Crypt - ,, ,, 17

4. Repton Camp and Church - ,, ,, 22

5. Plans of Church and Priory - ,, ,, 25

6. Bell Marks - - - ,, ,, 46

7. Repton Priory - - dm 51

8. Sir John Porte and Gilbert Thacker ,, „ 54
g. The Outer Arch of Gate House ,, ,, 61

10. Repton School Chapel and Mr.Exham's

House - - - n „ 75

11. The Hall and Porter's Lodge ,, ,, 81
12 Pears Memorial Hall Window ,, ,, 83

13. Mr. Cattley's, Mr. Forman's and Mr.

Gould's Houses - - >) ,> 85

14. Mr. Estridge's and Mr. Gurney's

Houses - - - ,, ,, 86
15 Cricket Pavilion, Pears Memorial

Hall, &c. - - ,, ,, 90

16. Ashby Castle and Staunton Harold

Church - - - M 5) 93

17. Barrow Church and Swarkeston House ,, ,, 99

18. Anchor Church and Bretby Hall ,, ,, 104

19. Egginton Church and Willington

Church - - . ,, ,, 109

20 Etwall Church and Hospital ,, ,, 115

21. Breedon Church and Melbourne Church ,, ,, 125

22. Tickenhall Round House - - - 136


Page 12. For KRhurgh rif^^ Eadburgh.

„ H

. Ggga


,> 74 .

, Solwey


„ 96 ,

, Grindley


M 99

, preceptary


,, II I. ,

, now

father of the

,• 115

, Bumaston


'Repton J4all.

(Prior Overton's Tower, page 81.)



IEPTON is a village in the County of Derby,
four miles east of Burton-on-Trent, seven miles
south-west of Derby, and gives its name to the deanery,
and with Gresley, forms the hundred, or division, to
which it belongs.

The original settlers showed their wisdom when they
selected the site: on the north flowed "the smug and
silver Trent," providing them with water ; whilst on
the south, forests, which then, no doubt, extended in
unbroken line from Sherwood to Charnwood, provided
fuel ; and, lying between, a belt of green pasturage pro-
vided fodder for cattle and sheep. The hand of time and
man, has nearly destroyed the forests, leaving them such
in name alone, and the remains of forests and pasturage
have been " annexed." Repton Common still remains
in name, in 1766 it was enclosed by Act of Parliament,
and it and the woods round are no longer " common."

Excavations made in the Churchyard, and in the field
to the west of it, have laid bare many foundations, and
portions of Anglo-Saxon buildings, such as head-stones
of doorways and windows, which prove that the site of
the ancient Monastery, and perhaps the town, was on
that part of the village now occupied by church, church-
yard, vicarage and grounds, and was protected by the
River Trent, a branch of which then, no doubt, flowed at
the foot of its rocky bank. At some time unknown, the
course of the river was interfered with. Somewhere,



above or about the present bridge at Willington, the
river divided into two streams, one flowing as it does
now, the other, by a very sinuous course, crossed the
fields and flowed by the town, and so on till it rejoined
the Trent above Twyford Ferry. Traces of this bed can
be seen in the fields, and there are still three wide pools
left which lie in the course of what is now called the
" Old Trent."

There is an old tradition that this alteration was made
by Hotspur. In Shakespeare's play of Hetiry IV. Act III.
Hotspur, Worcester, Mortimer, and Glendower, are at
the house of the Archdeacon at Bangor. A map of
England and Wales is before them, which the Arch-
deacon has divided into three parts. Mortimer is made
to say :

" England, from Trent to Severn hitherto,
By soulli and east is to my part assign'd :
All westward, Wales beyond the Severn shore,
And all the fertile land within that bound,
'l"o Owen Glendowei ; and dear Coz, to you
The remnant northward, lying o£E from Trent."

The "dear Coz" Hotspur, evidently displeased with
his share, replies, pointing to the map ; —

" Afetliinks my moiety, north from Burton here,
In quantity equals not one of yours :
See how this river comes me cranking in,
And cuts me from the best of all my land,
A huge half moon, a monstrous cantle out.
TU have the current in this place damntd up ;
And here the smug and silver Trent shall run
In a new channel fair and evenly :
It shall not wind with such a deep indent,
To rah me of so rich a bottom here."

Whether this passage refers to the alteration of the
course of the Trent at Repton, or not, we cannot say,
but that it was altered is an undoubted fact. The
dam can be traced just below the bridge, and on the
Parish Map, the junction of the two is marked.

I. REPTON (general). 3

Pilkington in his History of Derbyshire refers to
" eight acres of land /;/ an island betwixt Repton and
Willing ton " as belonging to the Canons of Repton
Priory. They are still known as the Canons' Meadows.
On this "island" is a curious parallelogram of raised
earth, which is supposed to be the remains of a Roman
Camp, called Repandunum by Stebbing-Shaw, O.R.,
the Historian of Staffordshire, but he gives no proofs
for the assertion. Since the " Itineraries " neither
mention nor mark it, its original makers must remain
doubtful until excavations have been made on the
spot. Its dimensions are, North side, 75 yards, i foot.
South side, 68 yards, i foot. East side, 52 yards, i foot.
West side, 54 yards, 2 feet. Within the four embank-
ments are two rounded mounds, and parallel with the
South side are two inner ramparts, only one parallel with
the North. It is supposed by some to be "a sacred
area surrounding tumuli." The local name for it is
" The Buries." In my opinion it was raised and used
by the Danes, who in a.d. 874 visited Repton, and
destroyed it before they left in a.d. 875.

Before the Conquest the Manor of Repton belonged
to Algar, Earl of Mercia. In Domesday Book it
is described as belonging to him and the King, having
a church and two priests, and two mills. It soon
after belonged to the Earls of Chester, one of whom,
Randulph de Blundeville, died in the year 1153.
His widow, Matilda, with the consent of her son Hugh,
founded Repton Priory.

In Ly sons' Magna Britannia, we read, " The Capital
Messuage of Repingdon was taken into the King's
(Henry III.) hands in 1253." Afterwards it appears
to have passed through many hands, John de Britannia,
William de Clinton, Philip de Strelley, John Fynderne,
etc., etc. In the reign of Henry IV., John Fynderne
" was seised of an estate called the Manor of Repingdon
alias Strelley's part," from whom it descended through
George Fynderne to Jane Fynderne, who married
Sir Richard Harpur, Judge of the Common Pleas,



whose tomb is in the mortuary chapel of the Harpurs
in Swarkeston Church. Round the alabaster slab of
the tomb on which lie the effigies of Sir Richard and
his wife, is the following inscription, " Here under
were buryed the bodyes of Richard Harpur, one of the
Justicies of the Comen Benche at Westminster, and
Jane his wife, sister and heyer unto Thomas Fynderne
of Fynderne, Esquyer. Cogita Mori." Since the disso-
lution of the Priory there have been two Manors of
Repton, Repton Manor and Repton Priory Manor.

p^rom Sir Richard Harpur the Manor of Repton
descended to the present Baronet, Sir Vauncey Harpur-
Crewe. Sir Henry Harpur, by royal license, assumed
the name and arms of Crewe, in the year 1800.

The Manor of Repton Priory passed into the hands
of the Thackers at the dissolution of the Priory, and
remained in that family till the year 1728, when Mary
Thacker devised it, and other estates, to Sir Robert
Burdett of Foremark, Bart.

The Village consists of two main streets, which meet
at the Cross Starting from the Church, in a southerly
direction, one extends for about a mile, towards Bretby.
The other, coming from Burton-on-Trent, proceeds in
an easterly direction, through " Brook End," towards
Milton, and Tickenhall, &c. The road from Willington
was made in 1839, when it and the bridge were completed,
and opened to the public. A swift stream, rising in the
Pistern Hills, six miles to the south, runs through a
broad valley, and used to turn four corn mills, (two of
which are mentioned in Domesday Book,) now only two
are worked, one at Bretby, the other at Repton. The
first, called Glover's Mill, about a mile above Bretby,
has the names of many of the Millers, who used to own
or work it, cut, apparently, by their own hands, in the
stone of which it is bviilt. The last mill was the Priory
Mill, and stood on the east side of the Priory, the arch,
through which the mill-race ran, is still in situ, it was
blocked, and the stream diverted to its present course, by
Sir John Harpur in the year 1606. On the left bank

I. REPTON (general). 5

of this stream, on the higher ground of the valley, the
village has been built ; no attempt at anything like
uniformity of design, in shape or size, has been made,
each owner and builder erected, house or cottage, accord-
ing to his own idea or desire ; these, with gardens and
orchards, impart an air of quaint beauty to our village,
whose inhabitants for centuries have been engaged,
chiefly, in agriculture. In the old Parish registers some
of its inhabitants are described as " websters," and
" tanners," but, owing to the growth of the trade in
better situated towns, these trades gradually ceased.

During the Civil War the inhabitants of Repton and
neighbourhood remained loyal and faithful to King
Charles I. In 1642 Sir John Gell, commander of the
Parliamentary forces stormed Bretby House, and in
January, 1643, the inhabitants of Repton, and other
parishes, sent a letter of remonstrance to the Mayor
and Corporation of Derby, owing to the plundering
excursions of soldiers under Sir John's command. In the
same year. Sir John Harpur's house, at Swarkeston, was
stormed and taken by Sir John Gell.

In 1687 a wonderful skeleton, nine feet long! was
discovered in a field, called Allen's Close, adjoining the
churchyard of Repton, now part of the Vicarage grounds.
'I'he skeleton was in a stone coffin, with others to the
number of one hundred arranged round it ! During the
year 1787 the grave was reopened, and a confused heap
of bones was discovered, which were co\"ered over with
earth, and a sycamore tree, which is still flourishing, was
planted to mark the spot.

During the present century few changes have been
made in the \'illage ; most of them will be found recorded,
either under chief events in the History of Repton, or in
the chapters succeeding.





HE first mention of Repton occurs in the Anglo-
Saxon Chronicle, under the year 755. Referring
to " the slaughter" of King Ethelbald, King of INIercia,
one out of the six MSS. relates that it happened " on
Hreopandune," "at Repton" ; the other five have "on
Seccandune," " at Seckington," near Tamworth. Four
of the MSS. spell the name " Hrepandune," one
" Ilreopadune," and one " Reopandune."

Under the year 874, when the Danes came from
Lindsay, Lincolnshire, to Repton, " and there took
Avinter quarters," four of the MSS. spell the name
" Hreopedune," one " Hreopendune." Again, under the
year 875, when they left, having destroyed the Abbey
and the town, the name is spelt " Hreopedune." The
final e represents the dative case. In Domesday Book it
is spelt " Rapendune," " Rapendvne," or " Rapendvn."
In later times, among the various ways of spelling the
name, the following occur : — Hrypadun, Rypadun,
Rapandun, Rapindon, Rependon, Repindon, Repingdon,
Repyndon, Repington, Repyngton, Ripington,Rippington,
&c., and finally Repton ; the final syllable ton being, of
course, a corruption of the ancient dim or don.

Now as to the meaning of the name. There is no
doubt about the suffix dun, which was adopted by the
Anglo-Saxons from the Celts, and means a hill, and was

II. REPTON (historical). 7

generally used to denote a hill-fortress, stronghold, or forti-
fied place. As to the meaning of the prefix " Hreopan,"
" Hreopen," or " Repen," the following suggestions have
been made: — (i) "Hreopan" is the genitive case of a
Saxon proper name, " Hreopa," and means Hreopa's
hill, or hill-fortress. (2) " Hropan or Hreopan," a verb,
" to shout," or " proclaim " ; or a noun, " Hrop,"
" clamour," or " proclamation," and so may mean " the
hill of shouting, clamour, or proclamation." (3) " Repan
or Ripan," a verb, " to reap " ; or a noun, " Rep, or Rip,"
a harvest, " the hill of reaping or harvest." (4) " Hreppr,"
a Norse noun for " a village," " a village on a hill."
(5) " Ripa," a noun meaning " a bank," " a hill on a
bank," of the river Trent, which flows close to it.

The question is, which of these is the most probable
meaning ? The first three seem to suit the place and
position. It is a very common thing for a hill or place
to bear the name of the owner or occupier. As
Hreopandun was the capital of Mercia, many a council
may have been held, many a law may have been pro-
claimed, and many a fight may have been fought, with
noise and clamour, upon its hill, and, in peaceful times, a
harvest may have been reaped upon it, and the land
around. As regards the two last suggestions, the arrival
of the Norsemen, in the eighth century, would be too late
for them to name a place which had probably been in
existence, as an important town, for nearly two centuries
before they came.

The prefix " ripa " seems to favour a Roman origin,
but no proofs of a Roman occupation can be found. If
there are any, they lie hid beneath that oblong enclosure
in a field to the north of Repton, near the banks of the
river Trent, which Stebbing Shaw, in the Topographer
(Vol. II., p. 250), says " was an ancient colony of the
Romans called ' Repandunum.' " As the name does not
appear in any of the " Itineraries," nor in any of the
minor settlements or camps in Derbyshire, this statement
is extremely doubtful. Most probably the camp was
constructed by the Danes when they wintered there in


the year 874. The name Repandunum appears in
Spruner and Menke's " Atlas Antiquus " as a town
among the Cornavii (? Coritani), at the junction of the
Trent and Dove !

So far as to its name. Now we will put together the
various historical references to it.

" This place," writes Stebbing Shaw, (O.R.), in the
Topographer, Vol. II., p. 250, "was an ancient colony of
the Romans called Repandunum, and was afterwards
called Repandun, (Hreopandum,) by the Saxons, being
the head of the Mercian kingdom, several of their kings
having palaces here."

" Here was, before a.d. 600, a noble monastery of
religious men and women, under the government of an
Abbess, after the Saxon Way, wherein several of the
royal line were buried."

As no records of the monastery have been discovered
we cannot tell where it was founded or by whom. Penda,
the Pagan King of Mercia, was slain by Oswiu, king of
Northumbria, at the battle of Winwadfield, in the year
656, and was succeeded by his son Peada who had been
converted to Christianity, by Alfred brother of Oswiu,
and was baptized, with all his attendants, by Finan,
bishop of Lindisfarne, at Walton, in the year 632.
{Matt. Paris, Chron. Maj.) After Penda's death, Peada
brought from the north, to convert Mercia, four priests,
Adda, Betti, Cedda brother of St. Chad, and Diuma, who
was consecrated first bishop of the Middle Angles and
Mercians by Finan, but only ruled the see for two years,
when he died and was buried " among the Middle Angles
at Feppingum," which is supposed to be Repton. In the
year 657 Peada was slain " in a very nefarious manner,
during the festival of Easter, betrayed, as some say, by
his wife," and was succeeded by his brother Wulphere.

Tanner, Notitia, f. 78 ; Leland, Collect., Vol, II.,
p. 157; Dugdale, Monasticon, Vol. II., pp. 280 — 2, all
agree that the monastery was founded before 660, so
Peada, or his brother Wulphere could have been its

II. REPTON (historical). g

The names of several of the Abbesses have been
recorded. Eadburh, daughter of Ealdwulf, King of East
AngKa. ^Elfthryth (.Elfritha) who received Guthlac,
(see p. 12). Waerburh (St. Werburgh) daughter of King
Wulphere. Cynewaru (Kenewara) who in 835 granted
the manor and lead mines of Wirksworth, on lease, to
one Humbert.

Among those whom we know to have been buried
within the monastery are Merewald, brother of Wulphere.
Cyneheard, brother of the King of the West Saxons,
^thelbald, King of the Mercians, " slain at Seccandun
(Seckington, near Tamworth), and his body lies at
Hreopandun " [Afiglo-Saxon Chron.) under date 755.
Wiglaf or Withlaf, another King of Mercia, and his
grandson Wistan (St. Wystan), murdered by his cousin
Berfurt at ^^'istanstowe in 850 (see p. 15). After existing
for over 200 years the monastery Avas destroyed by the
Danes in the year 874. " In this year the army of the
Danes went from Lindsey (Lincolnshire) to Hreopedun,
and there took winter quarters," {Anolo-Saxoji Chron.),
and as Ingulph relates " utterly destroyed that most
celebrated monastery, the most sacred mausoleum of all
the Kings of Mercia."

For over two hundred years it lay in ruins, till, pro-
bably, the days of Edgar the Peaceable (958-75) when a
church was built on the ruins, and dedicated to St.

When Canute was King (1016-1035) he transferred
the relics of St. Wystan to Evesham Abbey, where they
rested till the year 1207, Avhen, owing to the fall of the
central tower which smashed the shrine and relics, a
portion of them was granted to the Canons of Repton,
{see Life of St Wystan, p lb.) In Domesday Book Repton
is entered as having a Church with hvo priests, which
proves the size and importance of the church and parish
in those early times. Algar, Earl of Mercia, son of
Leofric, and Godiva, was the owner then, but. soon after,

1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

Online LibraryF. C. (Frederick Charles). 4n HipkinsRepton and its neighbourhood : a descriptive guide of the archæology, &c. of the district → online text (page 1 of 11)