St Margaret, Stratton Strawless and the Marsham Family

St Margaret, Stratton Strawless, is the church of the long-established Marsham family. The south aisle houses extravagant monuments to two family members who died in the 17th century. But perhaps the most illustrious Marsham – and certainly one who deserves to be remembered today – is Robert (1708–97). His tomb lies in the churchyard just to the left of the church door. 

As well as planting hundreds of thousands of trees on his estate (only a few giants remain), he kept a record of 27 ‘Indications of Spring’ – ranging from the first snowdrops to the arrival of swallows – which he observed each year of his life for nearly 60 years.

The full record was published by the Royal Society. Robert Marsham’s descendants continued collecting the data until 1958 – a total of 222 years. This historical record is now invaluable to scientists investigating the effects of climate change.

‘The spring is coming by a many signs,’ wrote the poet John Clare. Why not see how many of Marsham’s ‘Indications’ you can find this year, from the leafing of different species of trees to the calling of the song-thrush and nightingale, and from the rooks beginning to build their nests to frogs and toads croaking.

Indications of Spring : Robert Marsham

The 27 indications can be found here in RM’s paper to the Royal Society:

Hugh Aldersey-Williams

The two photos below show the tombs of Thomas Marsham, and Henry Marsham and his family:

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