Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Funny church, this, isn't it? - St Dunstan, Snargate

St Dunstan's was built at the end of the twelfth century and from 1817 to 1821 the Rector of Snargate was Richard Harris Barham, best known as Thomas Ingoldsby, Esq., eponymous author of The Ingoldsby Legends.

On the north wall is a wall painting of a ship of about the year 1500.  It was discovered under a layer of whitewash.  A local tradition maintains that the painting of a ship on the north wall opposite the main door of a marsh church meant that the church was a safe place to hide smuggled goods and it was frequently used for storing contraband (Braham claimed he could find it on a dark night from the smell of tobacco).

Snargate's most surprising claim to fame in the late 19th century, is that it was home to an important artist. Harold Gilman, sometimes called the English Van Gogh, was a British Impressionist and a member of the Camden Town Group. He grew up at Snargate Rectory, where his father was Rector. 

Snargate takes its name from the "snare-gate", or sluice-gate, which was put up here to control the waterway from Appledore to Romney. The gate can still be seen between the church and "The Red Lion" pub.

I will write more about "The Red Lion", in another occasional series I will doing on the pubs of the Marsh.

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