and there is a display about these Wits in the Woodbridge Museum. Barton’s grave is in the
old Quaker burial ground in Turn Lane, Woodbridge.
While Suffolk cannot claim the great GEOFFREY CHAUCER (1343-1400) as one of its
own, he unquestionably had connections with the county, and when he was controller of
customs in the port of London he almost certainly visited IPSWICH frequently. His great-
grandfather, Andrew, had a tavern in the town (marked by a plaque in Tower Street), and his
father, John, a London vintner, exported wheat from Ipswich. The poet’s granddaughter,
Alice, lived at WINGFIELD. She married William de la Pole, the first Duke of Suffolk,
and the arms of Chaucer are quartered with de la Pole in the church at STRATFORD ST
MARY. Chaucer’s Ipswich connection is acknowledged in a stained glass window in the
reference library at IPSWICH Central Library. It has Chaucer as the central figure, and
also features John Lydgate, John Bale, George Crabbe, Robert Bloomfield, Edward
FitzGerald and Agnes Strickland.
JOHN DONNE (1572-1631) poet, preacher and Dean of St Paul’s Cathedral, was a friend
of Sir Robert Drury of HAWSTEAD. On the death of Sir Robert’s daughter, Elizabeth, in
1611, he composed a Funeral Elegie, printed at the end of The Anatomie of the World.
The Latin verses on her memorial in Hawstead Church are attributed to Donne, ‘Elizabeth,
who had quickly rivalled the angels in beauty and blamelessness …’ Her mother, Lady Anne
Drury was responsible for the design and possibly for the execution of the Hawstead painted
panels, now in CHRISTCHURCH MANSION, IPSWICH.
JOHN LYDGATE (1370-1450) is a poet who has frequently been compared to Chaucer,
although not regarded so highly today. He was born at LIDGATE, near Bury St Edmunds in o
a fine half-timbered house that is still to be seen in the village, bearing the name ‘Suffolk
House’. As a monk in the monastery in Bury St Edmunds he taught literature and wrote
vast quantities of poetry. Some of it still appears in anthologies, and he provides an apt
couplet to all visitors to Suffolk: “Tarry no longer toward thyn heritage. Haste on thy way,
and be of right good cheer”. A poem of his decorates a cornice of the ceiling of the Clopton
chapel in the church at LONG MELFORD.
LONG MELFORD was also the final home of a distinguished twentieth-century poet,
EDMUND BLUNDEN (1896-1974). He lived at Hall Mill near Melford Hall for the last
ten years of his life. His book Undertones of War, with its supplement of poems, is one of
the great classics of First World War literature. The whole book has been described as ‘the
best war poem’. As well as poetry, he wrote a number of fine biographies and did much to
revive interest in the Northamptonshire poet, John Clare. He was appointed CBE in 1951,