The Murder of St. Wistan

The Murder of St. Wistan

By D.J. Bott

Transactions of the Leicestershire Archaeological and Historical Society, Vol.29 (1953)

Introduction: There is more than one ghost story connected with the quiet hamlet of Wistow, which lies off the London road about seven miles from Leicester. As a result of the enclosure and depopulation which appear to have taken place in the early seventeenth century, Wistow today is little more than the solitary church and the Elizabethan Hall, with its memories of the flight from Naseby, by their lake among the trees. On a summer’s day one feels that, if the spot indeed be haunted, it must be by a gentle and tranquil spirit in spite of the scenes of violence said to have been enacted there. It is in keeping with this that Wistow Hall is now a Centre for International Christian Fellowship an Service.

The suffix -stow usually indicates a holy place and Wistow in 1086 was known as Wistanestow, and in 1254 as Wystanstowe, the holy place of Wistan. Behind that name lies a story of murder over one thousand years ago. It also gives rise to a problem of identification, and an attempt is made to establish an answer below. Before dealing with the story of Wistan, it is necessary to outline the background.

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