As it appears impossible to avoid writing of Yoxford as “The Garden of Suffolk for this appellation has been so long popular that to suppress its significance would suggest a certain ignorance of local affairs, besides probably hurting the feelings of many worthy folk- I make no apologies for so doing. Not that any are really necessary, for even now Yoxford of to-day merits the remarks of a writer in the beginning of the last century, who described it “as remarkably pleasant village”. Yet on the other hand the Yoxford of to-day is scarcely so attractive as it may have been in times of the past when the rambling old “three Tuns” – unfortunately, destroyed by fire some years ago- was the scene of bustle and activity, its rooms crowded with travellers making the then adventurous journey between London and Great Yarmouth, and its ostlers busy over the steaming horses.

However, the country in the district has suffered little through the changing decades, and it this pleasant expanse of parkland and woods which undoubtedly still gives Yoxford a right to its popular name, even although the village street itself with its various shops, contrasts so strangely with the surrounding rural loveliness that there seems a queer atmosphere of the town buried amidst nodding foliage and sylvan glades.

In a fine and expansive churchyard is the place of worship dedicated to St. Peter, and possessing chancel and nave, aisles, which extend the whole length of the church- the North being added less than a century ago-and embattled Western tower with a small spire and weathercock and containing six bells. Unfortunately, the interior of the building has been so restored that much of its original style has been lost, but whilst stressing the point, it is advisable to state that quite a number of its treasures have been carefully preserved, and one of the renovations brought to light a splendid piscine.

Perhaps some of the most interesting objects in the church are the brasses, of which quite a number remain, and probably the one which exercises a maximum amount appeal to the casual visitor is on the north wall, with its quaint epitaph in memory of Anthony Cooke, a lawyer, whose death occurred on Easter Monday, 1613, and whose effigy is also shown:

“At the due sacrifice of the paschal lambe
Aprill had eayghte dayes wept in showers then came
Leane hungry deathe who never pitty tooke
And cause ye feaste was ended slewe this Cooke
On Easter Monday he lyves then no daye more
But syncke to ryse with Him that Rose before
Hees here intombed a man of virtues line
Outrechte his yeares yet they were seaventy nyne
He lefte on earthe the tenn Children of eleaven
To keepe his name whilste himselfe wente to heaven”

-somewhat uncommon this, Keith its punning and therefore worth the quoting. Amongst the other brasses are the effigies of Tomesine Tendryng who died in 1485, and her two sons and three daughters, all in shrouds, whilst two more daughters, and an inscription are also shown, but several of the shields have disappeared so that only one now remains. Yet another group of fifteenth century brasses shows the amour-clad figure of John do Norwich, and his wife Maud but although in this case there are four shields, the inscription has gone.

And this bring us to the Cockfield Chapel, for the window of this contains the de Norwich arms, whilst there is also a brass here in memory of Dame Jane Brooke who died in 1618, besides a large mural monument to Sir Robert Brooke and Elizabeth his wife, whose deaths occurred in 1646 and 1683.

Cockfield Chapel was so called through belonging to the hall of that name, which is even now perpetuated in the village, and whose manor was owned by the Cokefields in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. After this it passed into the hands of John de Norwich, later going with Yoxford manor itself, to John Hopton- whose arms are also in the chapel- and about 1597 was purchased by Sir Robert Brooke, whilst some hundred years after it again changed ownership, this time becoming the property of Sir Charles Blois. Other manors were known as Strickland and Murrills, and these practically followed the same course.

In connection with the building of Cockfield Hall there is an interesting story. According to this account an old residence- Yoxford hall itself- was destroyed by fire some three centuries ago, a fate which might have been avoided had plenty of water been available, and because of this, Cockfield Hall, its successor was erected much nearer the stream known as the Yox or Minsmere. This narrative, however, feasible enough though it seems, has been disputed, for others aver that both mansions were in existence at the same time, which if true, disproves the more picturesque tale.

But Cockfield Hall can certainly boast a past of note, for here died a close relative of one of the most pathetic feminine figures in England’s history. To tell the full story of Lady Katherine- younger sister of Lady Jane Grey, who was forced by the intrigues of others to the throne and thence to the block-is unnecessary, but suffice it that Katherine’s love affairs aroused the disapproval of Queen Mary, whose lady-in-waiting she was, with the natural result of those times that she was committed to the Tower of London. Here however, she was fortunate in one respect, for her gaoler was Sir Owen Hopton, of Cockfield Hall, and to this latter place, with its pleasant park, she was afterwards conducted, and here she remained till death removed her in 1567. She was buried in the chancel, but no memorial of this lady, unfortunate enough, it is true, and yet happier-fated than her i11-starred sister sister, exists. A tradition has been handed down that her little dog pined away on her grave and died.

The Cockfield Chapel also contains a memorial to the Rev. Sir Ralph Blois, Baronet, with the date 1762, and many monuments to the same family are in other parts of the church. A tablet of considerable interest to those who possess any regard for Suffolk and its story refers to David Elisha Davy, whose death occurred in 1851, and whose unique collection of material dealing with the history of the county has found its rightful place in the British Museum. The residence of this gentleman was the Grove, an ancient mansion of brick, surrounded by a large park and pleasure grounds.

Although St.Peter’s - and, incidentally there was a church here at the time the Domesday survey was undertaken- is exceptionally modern looking in its general appearance. With its open benches of New Zealand pine and other new additions, the pulpit is of the Jacobean period, and contains excellent carving, but in contrast to this, the alter rails and reredos are new, and are part of a private war memorial. The village war memorial, however, takes the form of a stained East window, and in this connection the organ is of some interest, for this was improved and dedicated by the wives, mothers and sisters of the men “of this parish who served overseas in the Great War, as an offering of thanksgiving for their preservation and safe return.” The font dates from the middle of the fifteenth century, and has a panelled octagonal bowl and pedestal, with a good carving, but has obviously suffered from mutilation.

That Yoxford with its appealing rural atmosphere, its verdant parks- and besides those mentioned, there is another known as the Rookery - and its quiet air of simplicity and restfulness should raise poetical feelings in the heart of one at least of its inhabitants, is surely a natural enough thing, and it is therefore no surprise to discover that the writer of many works was born in this happy village. This was Ann Candler, whose “Suffok Cottager” is comparatively well-known even to-day, when people have little time for this particular style of literature, and yet there is a simple homeliness about this unaffected poem of rural life which gives it a certain appeal. Despite her rustic environment, however, Ann Candler, who first saw the light here in 1740, led far from the Arcadian existence one would like to imagine, for she was unfortunate enough to take for her husnband a man who was a ne’er-do-well of the worst type, a wastrel and a drunkard, with the result that both poor Ann, to whom a cottage in a country village should have been paradise, and her useless spouse at one time were compelled to seek refuge in the workhouse.

Another resident of Yoxford, who was born here in18 20, was John Goodwyn Barmby, and in this case we find a connection with a political section whose activities have been so pronounced in recent years. For Barmby, a writer of tracts and other literary efforts, a Christian Socialist, and a preacher, was an enthusiastic radical, and later journeyed to the extreme and became an uncompromising revolutionary. And whilst he was in Paris, he claims to have invented the word “Communist,” but that his interpretation of the expression was different from that of many at the present time there can be no doubt. This native of Suffolk in fact, for all his beliefs, was peaceable in his ideas, and at one time was numbered amongst the most well-known preachers in the West Riding of Yorkshire, for the revolution he desired was one which could be obtained by measures other than the sword. The brotherhood of man was his ideal- a creed which despite its impossibility of fulfilment, at any rate held no brief for bloodshed or martial measures.

Thus it will be seen that several interesting figures have moved across the pleasant pages of Yoxford’s quiet story. Many an item has, of course, been omitted; several episodes would be of small interest to the general reader; others are relatively unimportant. Of its church a lot more might well be written, despite the way that renovations have affected the interior appearance of an ancient fabric. But in this village, set in the heart of one of the most beautiful districts of Suffolk, in this parish of poet and peasant, of noble and preacher, probably the strangest story is that of Lady Katherine Grey, sister to one who flung the reins of power to hold for a fleeting hour or so, only to have them ruthlessly torn from her nerveless fingers- Lady Katherine, whose love affairs raised the unreasoned ire of a queen, and who for years was held, a virtual captive at Cockfield Hall, till she eventually found her rest in the village church, where to-day nothing remains to preserve her memory, and only the few know her centuries-old sleeping place.

Yeoman. January 24th 1930