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Graveyard reveals a tale of smugglers and shoot-outs

Way we were
Liz Crudgington, l.crudgington@KRNmedia.co.uk 01843 578169

FATAL SHOT: Sydenham Snow was killed when his pistol failed to go off in a battle with notorious, smugglers — the North Kent Gang
STORIES: Members of Herne and Broomfield Local History Group present their research to the Reverend Elaine Richardson

A NAVY patrolman whose pistol failed to go off in a showdown with a smuggler is among those buried in the area’s oldest churchyard. Sydenham Snow was killed in front of the Ship Inn in Herne Bay on April 21, 1821, when about 60 members of the notorious North Kent Gang were trying to land a major haul that had come in on the early tide. They didn’t spot the Royal Navy patrol, under the command of Midshipman Snow, and a fierce battle broke out. Snow pointed his pistol at a smuggler and demanded his surrender, but the smuggler would not give in. Snow pulled the trigger but the pistol failed and he was shot where he stood. His grave is on the west side of Herne churchyard, at the foot of the tower, and his story is one of many revealed in a new book by Herne and Broomfield Local History Group.

The book was officially launched last week when members of the group presented a copy of the transcriptions of the monuments in the churchyard to St Martin’s vicar the Reverend Elaine Richardson. It was compiled by Alan and Shirley Dilnot and Philip and Janet Farmer and is the culmination of five years of work led by Mr Dilnot, who is chairman of the group. He said:

“The oldest headstone surviving dates back to 1652 and at one time it is reputed that there were many more graves than there are left today. Many of these would have had only wooden crosses to mark the grave. Some burials in the 1 700s would have been buried wrapped only in sheep’s wool or nothing at all. Herne churchyard was the only burial area in the area covering all the surrounding villages including Herne Bay before the Eddington cemetery was opened in 1880. This was also the date that the churchyard was closed for burials.”

STORIES: Members of Herne and Broomfield Local History Group present their research to the Reverend Elaine Richardson
FATAL SHOT: Sydenham Snow was killed when his pistol failed to go off in a battle with notorious, smugglers — the North Kent Gang

The group has also been researching names of the men listed on the village’s First World War memorial and trying to establish their connection to Herne. Vice chairman Margaret Burns said:

“In some cases families still live locally, but for others it appears that relatives have been away from the area for some time. There are no regimental details on the war memorial. If there were they would have been very helpful. Two names in particular for which contacts would be welcome are, Sidney Morris and Arthur Hoare. We are very grateful to those family members over the past years who have already provided information and pictures of their relatives whose names appear on the memorial.”

The results of their research will be included in a new booklet to be published in time for this year’s Remembrance Day Service in November.
For more information on the group, find them on Facebook or call 01227 373695.

Herne Bay Times, March 13th 2014

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