St. Modwen

I have always liked this sculpture of St. Modwen, patron saint of Burton upon Trent. It is part of the Washlands Sculpture Trail on Andressey Island, an island formed where the river divides into two branches. It is by John Fortnum and was unveiled in 1995. Larger than life at some 14ft (4.2 metres) tall, official records simply describe it as ‘A statue of St Modwen without limbs’. Little is made of the fact that it is a wind sculpture whose head and shoulders turn to the prevailing wind and sounds are created as the wind passes through the steel strips forming the cloak. The statue is in a quieter part of the trail and washlands. I quite like this misty morning shot which gives the sculpture an ethereal quality. A lone figure patrolling the boundary or taking an early morning walk.

St. Modwen was a 7th century Irish noblewoman who built a chapel on the island in the Trent, and founded Burton Abbey. She spent seven years in Burton before embarking on a pilgrimage to Rome. Upon her return she built churches in the area and founded Burton Abbey. It is believed there was a well in the abbey with mineral rich water which was perfect for brewing, thus the very start of brewing in Burton, later to become the brewing capital of Britain. Today, the town’s parish church, St Modwen’s, is situated between the market place and the river and very close to the original site of the Burton Abbey.

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