awarded the Queen’s Medal for Poetry in 1956 and elected Professor of Poetry at Oxford in
1966. On 2nd August 1996, during a day of commemorative celebrations, his widow, Mrs
Clare Blunden, unveiled a memorial plaque on Hall Mill. Edmund Blunden is buried in Long
Melford churchyard, and his gravestone carried the inscription, ‘I live still to love still things
quiet and unconcerned’.
A poet just as famous in his time was ROBERT BLOOMFIELD (1766-1823) whose poetry
captured the very essence of rural life in Suffolk at the end of the eighteenth and the beginning
of the nineteenth century. He was born at HONINGTON, north of Bury St Edmunds, in a
cottage close to the church. It is now divided, one part called Bloomfield Cottage and the other
Bloomfield Farmhouse. After first working on a farm and then for his brothers in London, he
achieved instant fame as the Pastoral Poet with his long poem, The Farmer’s Boy, published in
1800. A brass shield to Bloomfield’s memory is in Honington Church.
Very popular in her time was the poet JEAN INGELOW (1820-1897). She lived in
IPSWICH from 1834 to 1844. Even Tennyson thought highly of her and told her, ‘You do
the trick better than I do’ – a judgement not confirmed by passing time. The house she lived
in was in Elm Street at the head of Arcade Street. It is still there, only an arch has been
driven through the middle of it as an entrance into Arcade Street. Although she was only 24
when she left Ipswich, many of her poems were written there. On one occasion her mother,
when opening the shutters in her room, found them written all over with Jean’s verses.
In the churchyard at St Cross SOUTH ELMHAM is a slate headstone to ELIZABETH
SMART (1913-1986) with an inscription from Horace, ‘Non Omnis Moriar’. She found it
difficult to follow the great success of By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept the
poetic prose novel inspired by her love affair with George Barker which was described by
Brigid Brophy as ‘shelled, skinned, nerve-exposed’. Eventually she retired to The Dell at
FLIXTON to seek inspiration. Her garden became a great passion, and though a novel and
two poetry collections were published they never achieved the same success as her first.
A contemporary poet, painter and architect, who deserves to be much better known, is
CECIL LAY (1885-1956) He was born in the schoolhouse at ALDRINGHAM, lived most
of his life in the village, and died there. He is buried in Aldringham churchyard. One of the
houses he designed is the distinctly Art Nouveau ‘Raidsend’ on the Leiston road near its
entry to Aldringham. He published six volumes of poems. Lance Sieveking edited an
incomplete Collected Poems in 1962, and the poet Herbert Lomas edited a different