St Dunstans
Romney Marsh



Snargate is a village near New Romney,10 miles south east of Tenterden on the B2080 in the heart of the Romney Marsh in Kent.

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. Harold was born in 1876, and lived at the Rectory till his thirties, when he brought his bride Grace to live there, for the first two years of their marriage, 1902-04. His father continued to live there till his death in 1917. Harold Gilman only lived two years longer, dying in 1919 as one of the numerous victims of the so-called Spanish Influenza outbreak at the end of the First World War.

The painting "Interior" of about 1908 (Private Collection) is supposed to have been painted inside the Rectory.


Snargate has a well known pub, The Red Lion, which originates from the early 16th century and has been run by the current family since 1911 and, except for the odd lick of paint, has not been redecorated since 1890.This is a tiny pub with an antique marble bar top and raw wood floor. The draft beers, principally from independent Kentish brewers, are served directly from the cask. The walls are decorated with World War II era memorabilia. The pub has won a number of awards including CAMRA's Ashford Folkestone and Romney Marsh Pub of the Year, the Kent CAMRA Pub of the Year, and the South East Regional Pub of the Year.


The name of the village has changed over the years from Snergathe to Snergate, and derives from the snare-gate or sluice gates constructed here. They were vital in the maintenance of a water-way to the harbour at Romney.


In 1254 during Henry III reign it was directed by Royal order that a new sluice gate should be built. In 1401 the Jurats of Romney paid £16 10s 9d for the making of a new gate.


Admiral Gervase Alard held the manor in 1306, and paid 1/4 of a knight’s fee. In 1347 when Edward the Black Prince was made a knight, Dionisia Alard paid 1/8th of a fee for the Manor. The famous historian, Halsted, says that in 1369 Agnes Alard, widow, died in possession of this property. There is no other mention of possession of the manor until 1461, when it passed to John Fare of Tonbridge.


Late in the 18th century the row of cottages in front of the church were used as a workhouse for the poor. The church records show an old bill of 6s 6d paid to Miss Smith for nursing the smallpox victims of the workhouse for three nights, three days and a half.


In 1821 the parish held 15 dwellings and a total population of 93 people.


The parish church is dedicated to St Dunstan, and stands on a man made mound, surrounded by trees. It was erected around 1200 in the Early English style. The interest of the interior was lessened rather by the significant restorations carried out by the Reverend Edward Wilkinson in 1871.


On the north side of the nave stands the font, which has a square bowl and stem. It dates from about 1220, and still retains its original lead lining. It has a flat oak lid which probably dates from the 16th century. A peculiar feature of this, and other churches in the district, is the lack of a chancel arch. A finely carved Late Stuart chair, made around 1685 can be seen on the north side of the chancel. It is still used by the Bishop officiating at Confirmation Services and other functions. Opposite the main door, on the north wall is a terracotta coloured painting of a ship of around the year 1500. About 5ft by 4ft the painting was hidden under a layer of whitewash, and was uncovered a few years ago when work was being done on the church. Mrs Baker an authority on mural painting, considered it to be a 16th century work. Her assistant, Mr David Perry, later cleaned and restored it.


St Dunstan at Snargate is one of those churches supported by the Romney Marsh Historic Churches Trust.

Last Updated: 28 Apr 2015