Colin Crosby Heritage Tours

Colin's Little Known Facts: St. Wistan and Leicestershire

St. Wistan, a much revered saint in the Middle Ages, was martyred in Leicestershire.

Wistan was the grandson of Wiglaf, King of Mercia. A claimant to the throne, usually named as Brifardus, wished to marry Alfreda, Wistan’s mother, but Wistan opposed this, as he believed the pair were too closely related.

Brifardus murdered Wistan in 849 at a village to the South of Leicester now named Wistow (“the holy place of Wistan”), and secretly buried him.

For thirty days, a light shone over Wistan’s secret burial place, which rather gave the game away. Another story says that human hair grew at the place of his slaying, and miracles occurred on the spot.

Wistan’s body was translated to the Royal monastery at Repton in Derbyshire, where it became the object of pilgrimage, a Commission having established that the miracles were genuine and that Wistan was therefore a saint.

In the 11th century, however, his body was moved again, this time to Evesham Abbey, whose Abbot had made special representations to King Cnut.

At the Dissolution of the Monasteries, Evesham Abbey was largely destroyed, and the relics of St. Wistan with it.

Wistow is now a deserted village, represented only by the Hall and St. Wistan’s Church.

Another church dedicated to St. Wistan is at nearby Wigston Magna, where his body rested on its way to Repton.

The feast day of St. Wistan is 1st June.