Smethcott Church

Smethcott Church

In the foothills of the Long Mynd, between the Shropshire towns of Church Stretton and Shrewsbury, lies the hamlet of Smethcott and its church, St Michael and All Angels. At this time of year, the daffodils are out and proud, but sadly it looks like a recent frost may have bitten quite a few of them in the churchyard this spring.

The daffodils in Smethcott Churchyard.
The daffodils in Smethcott Churchyard.

The daffodils outside Smethcott Church.

The daffodils outside Smethcott Church.

Daffodils in Smethcott churchyard.
Daffodils in the churchyard.

The name Smethcott (also known as “Smethcote”) is Saxon and can be easily transcribed. Smeth = Smith (as in Blacksmith) and Cott = House/Cottage. So, House of the Smiths.

The entrance door to Smethcott Church.
The entrance door to Smethcott Church.
Inside Smethcott Church.
Inside Smethcott Church.
A wooden cross at Smethcott Church.
A wooden cross at Smethcott Church.

A church has stood on this site since at least the 12th century. The current church of St Michael and All Angels was rebuilt in 1850, although it retains some original features. The work was carried out by local craftsmen using stone from the original church as well as from nearby quarries. The building is rather plain with very simple stained glass windows. Looking up revealed the church needs some work inside, sooner rather than later too.

Looking up... Work needed.
Looking up… Work needed.

Looking up at the roof of Smethcott Church.

A simple stained glass window at Smethcott Church.
A simple stained glass window.
Stained glass windows at Smethcott Church.
Light coming through Smethcott Church’s simply stained glass windows.
Flowers in the church window.
A flower arrangement sitting in the light flowing through the church windows.

My 3x great grandparents’ names can be found in Smethcott’s marriage register. Francis Derricutt and Martha Wilding married at Smethcott church on 16th August 1797 after having their banns published on three Sundays (30th July, 6th & 13th August). They were married by William Crosse Curtis (Curate) and the marriage was witnessed by John Evans and John Rogers (Clerk). Francis was able to sign the register, whilst Martha left her mark. Francis and Martha went on to live near Much Wenlock. The Wilding surname features heavily in the Smethcott parish registers.

Smethcott Church
Smethcott Church

Smethcott Church

In May 1841 the Bells News Weekly Messenger and several other newspapers reported the death of a Mr Francis Wilding:

“On the 2nd inst., at the patriarchal age of at least 101 years, Mr. Francis Wilding, of the Sheppen-fields Farm, in the county Salop. He was born at Betchcott, on the estate of the Hon. H. W. Powis, of Berwick House, near Shrewsbury, and was from his teens to manhood in the service of the Powis family; after which, about 80 years ago, he became the tenant of the Sheppen-fields Farm, near the place of his birth, and also belonging to the Powis estate, and continued a tenant of it down to his death. He was christened at Smethcott, the parish in which Betchcott is situate, on Christmas Day, 1740, but how old he then was his friends have not the means of knowing. He was no disciple of the Cornaro school, but, on the contrary, all his life indulged in good but not luxuriant living, and on festive occasions always took his full share of Shropshire ale, and was a declared opponent of fasting and teetotal notions, his last cup of ale having been taken so late as the 14th ult. He was in possession of his mental faculties to the last. It is believed by his surviving relations that his real age was 103 – some say he was 106.”

Either way, that’s quite some age!

Trees in Smethcott churchyard.
Trees in the churchyard.
The weathervane at Smethcott Church.
The weathervane at Smethcott Church.

I didn’t find any ancestors in the churchyard during my visit this Easter weekend, but I did find a pile of discarded memorial stones beneath some trees. Why? I’m unsure. They look like they’ve been there a while and are uncared for. Maybe they were unsafe and at risk of falling. Whatever the reason, they no longer mark the resting places of those whose names they bear, which is a shame.

A gravestone lying down amongst others in Smethcott churchyard.
A gravestone lying down amongst others in the churchyard.
Another gravestone lying down amongst others in the churchyard.
Another gravestone lying down amongst others in the churchyard.
A stone cross resting against a tree in Smethcott Churchyard.
A stone cross resting against a tree.

The rest of the churchyard is well cared for, with swathes of daffodils to the front of the church. The panoramic views of the surrounding countryside are magnificent. Some prominent Shropshire hills can be seen, such as the Wrekin and Caer Caradoc.

Well worth trundling up some country lanes for a visit!

27 comments

  1. Jo says:

    What a pretty church, especially with all the daffodils in bloom. Fascinating to find the death notice in the newspaper, what a grand old age he lived to.

  2. Kelly says:

    All of your photos are gorgeous! I especially like the view of the church over the field of daffodils, the simple stained glass, the flower arrangement in the sunlight, and the cross against the tree. Just lovely!

  3. Ann says:

    What a gorgeous little church, Nikki. I might stop there myself when I visit Shropshire in June. That third photo is stunning, by the way! xxx

  4. Kris P says:

    It’s a beautiful church, even if in need of repair, Nikki. It’s wonderful that you’re able to explore family origins in records that go back that far. My own grandparents (on both sides) migrated to the US from Scandinavia and the connections to the “old country” (or in this case countries) are deeply buried.

  5. Jean Hurrell says:

    I’ve been following your blog for a while now and you often visit places that are familiar to me – I now live just north of Welshpool. From 1983 to 2003 we lived in Picklescott, Smethcott’s neighbouring village, and I’m still a member of Smethcote WI as well as being a WI member here. I have done my share of cleaning the admittedly plain little church at Smethcott and have attended some lovely weddings there, as well as funerals where we generally had to stand outside as the church was stuffed full of relations of the deceased. I believe there is a plan for the repairs that are needed.

  6. Cleo says:

    Oh my word, the church, the daffodils- what lovely photographs. Dad says he and mom have talked almost endlessly about resettling somewhere across the ocean near such a place. A dream, of course. What a fabulous story and the photos- ahh, the photos…

  7. Marty says:

    How cool that you were able to find family of yours in the church registry. That’s truly wonderful. I’ve never seen so many daffodils! Beautiful pictures. A shame about those old gravestones, though. Makes me want cremation when I see something like that. 🙁

  8. jeanie says:

    Oh Nikki, this church is wonderful. I would simply swoon to see those daffodils ablaze in the front. And the interior is so lovely — simple and beautiful. That must be so exciting to see the wedding register of your third great grandparents. I love family history and visiting a place connected with major events in their lives really helps bring them to life again in a way. What a wonderful post.

  9. Sophie says:

    This looks so beautiful and quaint, a lovely bit of family history too! It’s a shame about the discarded stones. I always wonder what happens to the older stones/ plots when I see an older burial site x

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