Ingoldmells Church Palm Tree Mystery

The Palm Tree just outside the doorway in Ingoldmells Saints Peter and Paul Church is said to have just appeared overnight like magic!

We need to look into this further, and as an ongoing project, information, theories and discoveries will be added to this page as and when.

It is said there is a reference to the tree in the Ingoldmells Parish Records.

Found elsewhere on the internet:

The Ingoldmells Palm Tree Local tradition asserts that in the 19th century, the squire’s daughter Charlotte fell in love with a servant named Jonah and they had secret liaisons by the church porch. One night the squire saw them and subsequently dismissed Jonah from his employment in expression of his disapproval. Jonah went to sea and was killed in a shipwreck, but his body was brought home and buried by the porch with a palm tree planted to mark his grave. Charlotte died of a broken heart shortly afterwards.

From the Ingoldmells Burial Records we can see that a Charlotte Warner was buried in the church yard in 1850, aged 21. (I have no other deaths for any Charlottes in Ingoldmells, other than what appears to be a relative in 1875.)

Charlotte Warner was listed on the 1841 census living with her father, Thomas Warner – a farmer – mother, Rebekah, and siblings.

According to A topographical and historical account of Wainfleet and the Wapentake of Candleshoe, in the county of Lincoln by Edmund Oldfield (of Long Sutton.) the Squires of Ingoldmells in 1826 were: B B Greathead, B B Mathews, John Loft and Joseph Hunt, Esqrs. and General Birch Reynardson.

Extract from Lincolnshire Life Magazine Summer 1962:

Thousands of summer visitors to Ingoldmells stop and look curiously at a lovely tropical palm tree thriving in a shady corner formed by the porch and the south side of the church of SS Peter and Paul.

The palm is a Lincolnshire mystery for nobody seems to know how it got there. However, after making many inquiries and getting nowhere, the Rector of Ingoldmells, the Rev Wilfred F H Curtis, wrote:

The Legend of the Lonely Palm in his parish magazine. Briefly, he told of a love affair between Charlotte, the squire’s daughter, and Jonah, one of his house boys, who used to meet secretly in the church porch. They were sitting there one moonlight night when the squire passed and stopped to investigate the two ghostly figures.

Banished by the angry landowner, Jonah ran away to sea and eventually died on a lonely island after being shipwrecked.

A palm tree was planted by friends over his grave.

Charlotte also died of a broken heart… and soon after her death the palm tree began to grow in the churchyard.

UPDATE: 30th August 2012

An extract from an old parish magazine:

IN the sunny shaded corner fox ed by the porch and south aisle of Ingoldmells Church stands a lonely tropical Palm Tree, its rough trunk crowned by ever-green Palms. It has fascinated and mystified many vsitors and local people.
Architects say it should be removed. But all ask the same question. “How did it get there?
Many yeas ago there lived in the village an orphan boy named Jonah Thorpe. After leaving school he worked as house-boy for the local Squire.
The Squire had a beautiful daughter named Charlotte about the same age as Jonah, and these two young people in love in despite of their different stations in life, fell in love with each other. Naturally it had to be very secret and they both acted as servant and lady when anyone was within sight or ear-shot.
They did, however, meet secretly under cover of darkness and their rendezvous was the old Church porch. Here they would vow their eternal love for each other and planned that one day, when Jonah had saved enough money and Charlotte received her endowment they would elope and marry.
Alas, one moonlight night as Jonah and Charlotte were sitting in the porch, the Squire passed by, and seeing figures there in the moonlight he stopped to investigate. After all, thought he, they may be Church robbers. On discovering his daughter in the arms of his lowliest servant. the enraged Squire lashed out with his stick at Jonah. ” Run, Jonah, run! screamed Charlotte. Jonah needed no encouragement he ran for his life.
Charlotte was marched home, sobbing bitterly, and. her father forbade her ever to leave the house again without a chaperone.
Jonah was never to set foot on the Squire’s property again. He tried to contact Charlotte but it was all in vain and his letters were destroyed by the Squire without Charlotte even knowing that her lover had written.
In despair, Jonah ran away to sea. Sometime later his ship was wrecked in the Pacific Ocean and together with a few survivors, Jonah landed on the Fiji Islands.
Realizing now that he would never see his beloved Charlotte again, he died of a broken heart. His friends buried him on the south shores of Kandavu and planted a small Palm to mark his grave.
At home Charlotte waited. She knew that Jonah would come back if he could. Her father died, and then her mother; but Charlotte never married. All the money and property left to her meant nothing without Jonah to share it.
Often, under the cover of darkness, she would go to the Church porch and sit quietly dreaming of Jonah and the life they should have spent together. Before leaving she would slip into Church and, kneeling before the Altar, she would commend her lover into the loving care of their Lord. One night as she prayed it seemed that the figure on the moonlit Cross spoke to her, “Soon your faithful love shall be rewarded. Jonah is waiting for you here with me “.
Charlotte revealed this to an old servant just before she died that same year at the early age of 27. According to her wish she was buried in the village Churchyard close beside the porch. It was not very long after this that the Verger noticed an unusual tree growing at the head of Charlotte’s grave. It turned out to be a tropical Palm.
Some years later one of the survivors who had buried Jonah on the shores of Kandavu made his way to Ingoldmells in search of any relatives of his ship-mate. So he learned the story of the young lovers, and was taken to see Charlotte’s grave and the lonely Palm growing over it. “Strange “, he said, ” we planted a Palm at the head of Jonah’s grave, but it never grew “.
The graves of Charlotte and Jonah have long since disappeared swept by the winds from the North Sea and the Pacific Ocean. But the lonely Palm still stands for all to see in Ingoldmells churchyard, a living memorial with its evergreen leaves and a symbol of the eternal love of true lovers.
If we should need an epitaph to inscribe on the Palm we should do well to turn to the prophet Jeremiah, chapter 31 verse 3, “I have loved thee with an everlasting love “.

Articles in the local newspapers when the palm tree blew down in 1990:

Fallen Palm

A piece of Ingoldmells’ heritage disappeared in this week’s storms when the palm tree in the village’s churchyard was felled by the strong winds.

The palm tree is believed to have been part of the Ingoldmells scene for 150 years.

Source: Skegness News 28th February 1990

Palm Replanted

Kew Gardens’ description of the palm tree at Ingoldmells Parish Church as being a ‘pure phenomonen’ took on a new meaning when locals replanted it after recent high winds had blown it out of the ground,

Local firms and residents performed the delicate operation of replanting the tree which has stood outside the church for over 100 years.

Source: Skegness Standard 23rd March 1990

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