One of the things I like about this little journey I am on is that there is a surprise behind every door, you really never know what you are going to find inside these redundant buildings and this one really is special.
Snarford (once spelled Snertesford) means Snortr’s ford, so home of a Viking called Snortr at a ford across the Barlings Eau then.
The village is listed in the Doomsday Book, where it is documented that there were 16 families living in the village. This church is later than the 1086 Doomsday survey though, probably built in the 12th century, it had extensive refurbishment in the 14th century.
The village is long since disappeared. Another lost medieval village. Reaching its height in the early Middle Ages, Charles Knightly, in his booklet for the Churches Conservation Trust, says the village seems to have gone into decline in Tudor times and may have been almost deserted when Snarford Hall was built. The Hall has now also vanished but a lovely informative tourism board has been placed by the church by Lincolnshire County Council. Now only the church and Hall Farm remain of the old village.
But this church is actually spectacular … and the reasons are inside.
This incredible six-poster monument is the tomb of Sir Thomas St Paul (also spelled St Poll and Smapoll) and his wife. Owner of Snarford Hall, Sir Thomas was knighted by Queen Elizabeth I, he was MP for Grimsby and a Sheriff of Lincolnshire. His wife was Faith Grantham who was descended from a fine Lincolnshire lineage herself.
The tomb is covered in heraldry, it is brash and colourful and the effigies are life sized.
The detail is amazing. One the top of the monument are the couple’s children and around it an inscription reads “Here lies Thomas St Poll, knight, who died on the 29th August AD 1582, in the twenty-fourth year of the reign of Queen Elizabeth, and rests in Christ. Reader, you see what I am, you know what I have been. Consider what you yourself must be.” Apparently he was quite pious.
His son and heir was Sir George who died in 1613. Not to be outdone, Sir George has his own tomb in the church.
This slightly ridiculous pose has been dubbed ‘the toothache pose’. I like that. The tomb is an absolute work of art but their pose is a bit ridiculous. I wonder if they planned it before their deaths and thought this a cool and more modern arrangement than mum and dad lying flat on their backs with their hands clasped in prayer.
Or maybe they had no say and a descendant thought this an appropriate memorial to the couple.
Beneath the couple is an effigy of their only child Mattathia (unusual name) who died before her second birthday. Frances never really got over the grief.
The monuments are impressive, certainly, and really unexpected in this small parish and unimposing parish church. The original village is now lost, the stately home lost, but the St Paul (St Poll, Sampoll) family will not ever be forgotten thanks to these amazing monuments.
After a couple of years of widowhood, Frances Wray remarried. Her spouse was Robert Rich, Earl of Warwick and this monument celebrates the two. The marriage wasn’t exactly a match made in heaven. Warwick died in 1619 and is buried with his family in Essex. Frances lived on at Snarford until her death in 1634.
These monuments really do take your breath away. They are huge, colourful and imposing. But they aren’t the only things of interest in this little church.
I have found a book I think will be interesting that I am going to order from Amazon. It explains the architecture and the imagery of the English church. The more I see and the more I discover about the people who lived in these little off the beaten track places, the more I want to learn.
I have more Lincolnshire churches still to come … and plenty more around the country still to see.