Grave slab of Sarah Smith


Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Statutory Address:
Churchyard of St. Margaret's Church, Church Lane, Wolstanton, Newcastle-under-Lyme, ST5 0HU


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Statutory Address:
Churchyard of St. Margaret's Church, Church Lane, Wolstanton, Newcastle-under-Lyme, ST5 0HU

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Newcastle-under-Lyme (District Authority)
Non Civil Parish
National Grid Reference:


Grave slab of Sarah Smith of 1763.

Reasons for Designation

The grave slab of Sarah Smith, who died in 1763, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

Historic interest: * for its highly unusual and poignant epitaph which records the infamous and tragic circumstances surrounding her death.

Architectural interest: * as a good example of a mid-Georgian monument which, despite some damage, survives in its essential form with a legible inscription.

Group value: * with the Grade-II* listed Church of St Margaret.


Sarah Smith was born to Samuel and Martha Smith of Bradwall (now Bradwell) Park, north-east of Wolstanton, in 1742. Details of her life are not known. She died on the 29 November 1763 when she was 21 years of age, and was buried four days later in the churchyard of St Margaret’s Church in Wolstanton. The baptismal register for 4 December 1763, the day of Sarah’s funeral, records the baptism of ‘Sarah Dtr. Of Sarah Smith.’ No father is named in the entry, suggesting that the daughter who had been born to Sarah Smith may have been illegitimate. The child sadly died a short time after her mother on 13 December 1763.

The enigmatic inscription on Sarah Smith’s gravestone alleges that she was murdered by poisoning and also includes the first and last letters of the names of the man her family believed were responsible. Documentary research (Crick, see SOURCES) has established that the man accused is most probably Charles Barlow, who was some six years older than Sarah, and whose family were neighbouring tenants to Sarah’s family. There is much speculation as to the relationship Barlow held with Sarah, including the possibility that he fathered her child and may have been responsible for Sarah’s death.


Grave slab of Sarah Smith of 1763.

Stone, rectangular grave slab with incised carving including a border. The inscription reads: 'HERE/ lieth the Body of/ Sarah Smith Daughter of/ Samuel and Martha Smith/ of Bradwell Park who/ departed this life Novbr 29th 1763/ and in the 21st Year of her Age/ It was C-----s B----w / that brought me to my end / Dear Parents mourn not for me / For God will stand my friend / With half a Pint of Poyson / He came to visit me / Write this on my Grave / That all that read it may see'. There are fractures to the upper part of the gravestone.


Crick, J, 2013, Sarah Smith of Wolstanton, for St Margaret’s Church Wolstanton.


This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

End of official listing

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