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Snarford

Saint Lawrence's Church, Snarford, Lincolnshire.

The connection between the St Pol, Wray, Rich, Tallyer Grantham and Moigne families.

 

There is no village here just about half a dozen houses along the side of the road. St Lawrence’s Church is very plain and without even any lighting. In anything other than bright daylight a lamp or torch is needed to see the treasure contained at the rear of the altar.

The church stands alone and forlorn in a small meagre churchyard next to a large farmhouse about 300 yards off to the left of the A46 about 3 miles north of Welton. When one mentions the name to people who have lived in the Lincoln area for years they will say they have never even heard of the place, yet it houses three of the finest Elizabethan memorials in full colour. They have lifelike and lifesize effigies four adults one babe and nine little figures of children kneeling in prayer over their parents bed canopy like little wingless angels. However the little angels are really only for effect as part of the bed canopy design.

The only time I have ever known St Lawrences to be locked was when repairs were being carried out to the roof and it was locked for the safety of the public. Otherwise it is normally open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week 365 days a year, unusual in this day and age (I have been in there at 10 o'clock at night).

Saint Lawrence's Church, Snarford. Photograph: Peter Fairweather.

Tomb of Sir Thomas St Pol. Photograph: Peter Fairweather.

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On entering the church at Snarford through the south door one sees nothing much but a drab, dark interior with no artificial lighting and if you go in bad light a torch or lamp is required. On facing east towards the altar one gets a glimpse of the child figures kneeling on top of the bed canopy although it is difficult to comprehend what it actually is unless you have seen it before.

On approaching the altar one sees to the left a large "medallion" memorial in full colour painted alabaster with two demi, sideways portraits on it. Next to this is a large 12 to 14 foot high wall tomb also in full colour. When you reach this you get a distinct feeling of awe as you turn to look around you, for at your back is a magnificent six poster bed complete with canopy and again in full colour. This is the tomb of Sir Thomas St Pol. (St Paul.) and his wife Faith (whose maiden name was Grantham) and it is here we will begin our story. This edifice really is a monumental piece of carving in every sense of the word and the figures of Thomas and Faith are gorgeous in their detail. He is in armour which is complete in every detail except for his helm which lies under his head. This has on it an elephant with a castle - like Howdah on its back (Elephant & Castle ?) Faith has the typical dark flowing dress of the day and both he and she have a closed book in hand, possibly representing a prayer book but also could be The Book of Life which is now closed.

Tomb of Sir Thomas St Pol. Photograph: Peter Fairweather.

Sir Thomas's family had lived in Snarford for about 14 generations and were very wealthy landowners, he died on August 29th 1582 but it is his wife who leads us on a merry trail of who is related to who.

Faith was the daughter of Vincent Grantham of Katherines, Lincoln. (He died in 1550) His wife was Bridget Hansard, (Daughter of Sir William Hansard of South Kelsey.) Bridget was first married to one Thomas Moigne, Recorder of Lincoln, who took part in the Lincolnshire Uprising in 1536 and who was cruelly executed on the 7th of March 1537. She then married Vincent Grantham and had children. When Vincent died Bridget married for the third time to Thomas Tallyer (or Taylor) Recorder for the Bishops of Lincoln from which position he made a goodly fortune and built the Doddington Hall we see today at Doddington about 3 miles to the south west of Lincoln. Within about 9 months of the marriage Bridget was dead leaving Father Tallyer to bring up a small family who were really nothing to do with him. According to surviving records Father Tallyer, to his very great credit, did an excellent job and when one reads any details from the accounts of Thomas and Faith they always refer to him with very great affection and he was very generous to other members of the family too.

The children around the canopy have all sorts of different characters in their faces as they look down over clasped hands. One young man is a real sober sides whilst next to him his "sister" in a pretty green dress seems to portray a very amused person attempting to be serious and not to laugh.

Photograph: Peter Fairweather Their Son is the figure in armour who appears on the next tomb with his wife in what is commonly known as the toothache position.

The large, high monument on the wall opposite to the St Pol six poster bed monument is that of his son Sir George St Pol. This gentleman is shown lying on his side above his wife Frances who lies likewise on her side with the right cheek cradled in her right hand in what is usually known in Monument circles as "The Toothache Position."

Photograph: Peter Fairweather
  He is in full armour which is quite accurately detailed in its presentation and he appears to be in some discomfort whereas she is quite striking in a dark dress with pretty bows and lace.

This ladies maiden name was Frances Wray and she came from Glentworth just three or four miles across the ridge where she lived at Glentworth Hall. She was the daughter of Sir Christopher Wray, Lord Chief Justice to Elizabeth 1st. and was married at the age of 15 to Sir George and after 13 years (according to John Chadwick, Chaplain to King James 1st in 1597 but the figures do not tally accurately), she had the daughter Mattathia who's effigy lies in the alcove below her. Tragically this only daughter died before her second birthday and was followed some 16 years later by Sir George, a man once described by Lord Burghley as "one of the best men in the country".

Photograph: Peter Fairweather

Photograph: Peter Fairweather
Lord Rich, Earl of Warwick, inscription.
After being a widow for three years Frances married Robert Rich of Leez Priory at Felstead in Essex, the gentleman with the full faced painted portrait on the medallion memorial to the left of Sir George St Pol's tomb. He appears on this wall memorial as the Earl of Warwick with his Countess behind him shown half faced profile with a coronet upon her head. This countess of course is Frances as her husband Rich purchased the title from a cash strapped King James 1st. for £10,000. In 1618, only a few months after buying his title Lord Rich, Earl of Warwick was dead and buried in a vault at Felstead. Countess Frances rowed with Lord Rich's son who considered she had taken advantage of his father's trusting nature. Frances had made a marriage agreement with Lord Rich in that if she died first he would get her entire estate and if he did she would get a considerable part of his. What Rich was not told was that despite the fact that Frances received £1,700 a year from Sir George's considerable estate (mega - bucks in modern money) she actually owned no property except the house in Snarford as it all went to two nephews.

Frances took what was due to her from Rich's estate and retired to Snarford once more to carry out in the area her good and charitable works to the end of her days.

Although Frances is portrayed on both of the memorials in Snarford, on her death she was taken and interred in the vault with Lord Rich at Felstead where no memorial of any kind to either exists. The son being of just a nasty disposition as his father he would not erect a stone to him or Frances.

Robert Rich was not the most pleasant of people and was described as being of a foul and vindictive disposition and of nasty temper. There is a story that his first wife, Penelope Devereaux, was only a very young orphaned girl when she was forced to marry him. This was in spite of stamping her feet and refusing in the ceremony and having to be taken into the vestry by her uncle and persuaded by the threat that she would be turned penniless out into the street if she didn't. Needless to say this marriage didn't last. She bore Rich one child and went off to live with another man and had five more children by him.

To be fair to Lord Rich he did abide by the conditions of the divorce settlement whereas she didn't. Only when she knew she was at death's door did she ask for his forgiveness which he willingly gave her as she forgave him. This of course was to make the score sheet look good when either appeared at the pearly gates and was a common thing to do in those days. It was only after Penelope's death did he look for another wife.

Saint Lawrence's Church, Snarford, 26-Feb-86. People are producer Colin Rose and assistant Florence Minnis, then preparing for a BBC2 program scheduled for 1987. Photograph: Peter Fairweather.


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