February 24, 2017

Trent Washlands

Statue of St Modwen
by John Fortnum

The earliest written record of the town of Burton on Trent dates from the 7th century, when St Modwen built a chapel dedicated to Saint Andrew on an island in the river. She constructed a well nearby and the water was reputed to cure all ills.

Wikipedia tells us that Modwen, or Modwenna was an Irish noblewoman who became a nun. After setting up the chapel in Burton she and two fellow nuns made a pilgrimage to Rome. On their return they built a church at nearby Stapenhill dedicated to St Peter and St Paul.

View across the Washlands
In 874 the town was invaded by Vikings, who are believed to have destroyed St Modwen's chapel. Only a cherry orchard and yew trees mark the site today.

Sculpture representing the prow
of a viking ship
The Saxon earl Wulfric Sport later built an abbey on the banks of the river and included a shrine to St Modwen. It was the monks of that abbey who sank more wells in the surrounding marsh and began brewing beer - the trade for which the town is now best known.

Much of the town's early history, including the site of St Modwen's chapel, is now covered by a public park called the Washlands.  And dotted around the area are sculptures representing key figures and products.

Being a river town (they don't call it "on Trent" for nothing) Burton needs bridges, and the first one was built by the abbey monks, but their structure was replaced in 1864 by one that was strong enough to cope with the industrial traffic the town attracted by then. The Washlands are also crossed by a causeway that enables people from the Stapenhill area to walk to the centre of town, even when the river is in flood.

Like Marmite, for example. Apologies to any of my overseas readers who have never tasted the yeasty spread. It's a by-product of the brewing industry and, as the adverts say, you either love it or hate it. Personally I'm a fan. Anyone who knows it will instantly recognise the Marmite jar sculpture standing close to the washlands.

This has been a Five on Friday post, joining in with Amy at Love Made My Home. 


  1. LOVE Marmite! I am not ashamed to admit that sometimes I eat it with a spoon. Unfortunately they don't sell it in most Spanish shops so I have major difficulty trying to find my marmite fix

  2. Interesting post about Burton on Trent. Happy Friday!

  3. Lovely history. You're making me miss England - the history here isn't nearly as old. I love marmite. Luckily I can buy it over here - don't think I'd survive without it lol.

    Happy Five on Friday

  4. Very interesting as I knew nothing about Burton on Trent. I would imagine that the statue of St. Modwen would look other wordly on a misty day and the sculpture of the Marmite jar made me smile. Wishing you a good weekend.

  5. Oh, I like Marmite! I don't see it often here, though. England is rife with history - there's a story or 10 around every corner. I love it.
    Happy weekend.

  6. Interesting post... so long ago!

  7. A great post.Just my cup of tea or should I say jar of mark its! Yum!

  8. The first statue is so beautiful! I enlarged that to enjoy it!
    Have a good weekend!

  9. We usually drive through Burton on our way to Swadlincote and Newhall for family history purposes but I remember visiting Stapehill church as that has some family connections and there was a lot of green areas with walkways around there down by the river. Is that where the sculptures are? If so we must stay and take a walk next time we go that way, as they look fascinating:)

  10. You've shared a lovely bit of history, and yes, you're making me miss England. Haven't tried Marmite, but I have heard one either loves it or hates it.

    Wishing you a beautiful week...

  11. Who knew Burton was so interesting? You are fab. I agree with Tomoko - that statue of St Modwen is beautiful. As for Marmite, yuck! x

  12. I am sorry to be late visiting, but I wanted to wait until the link had closed and I could write to everyone who had taken part. Thank you so much for your support of Five On Friday this week and in the weeks gone by. I do so appreciate it and have really enjoyed reading your posts. I hope that you will enjoy going to the new link up just as much and will continue to take part. I hope that I will still see you at my blog sometimes, I will of course still be visiting you sometimes too! Best wishes and many thanks.

  13. I really enjoyed this post and enjoyed the sculpturess as well. And I'm a marmite fan las well although I believe ours tastes diffeent to yours :)



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