It’s a Lavenham day! Partly because I’m here to attend a How to Get Published session at the Lavenham Literary Festival; partly because Lavenham gave birth to a significant number of my illustrious ancestors.
Sir Harold Cooke was born around 1300, in Moulsham, Berkshire, before moving to Lavenham, in Suffolk, where he proceeded to populate the village with a long line of descendants. The Cooke family of Lavenham were involved in the drapery trade, until an appointment to the title of Mayor of London, took Sir Robert Cooke, (born about 1392) away from Suffolk. At this point, Sir Robert Cooke, and later descendants, set up home at Gidea Hall in Romford, Essex.
At this branch, the whole-family tree business becomes a little worrying. Hubby is from Romford, in Essex, and there are a number of Cookes in his family tree. Did I marry a something-times-removed cousin? Thought dismissed – gone! I was born in Shropshire, moved all around the British coastline, and ended up in Suffolk – only to couple-up with a … No, not possible!
Whatever. Whenever and wherever. And why?
Time to investigate. If I have a double-claim to the family territories in the property hot-spot of upmarket Lavenham, why do I feel the need to get a book into the list of 2020’s bestsellers?
With a quick glance back at the church (did a Cooke worship within those walls?), I hop into and out of Phoebe Morgan’s session at the Village Hall, and step out to peruse my land and properties.
Immediately, I feel like I’ve stepped into a scene from the Harry Potter films and, because I have a thing about Diagon Alley’s bookshop, I know I’m home.
The land that is Lavenham, and all that it contains, is mine, mine, mine!
I can see it now – a miniature Lavenham, made up of an assortment of recycled items: including Toblerones for the triangular roofs, lolly sticks for the wooden support beams, and brown-wrapping paper for the infill bits.
And I know just the person for the job!
Sprog 3? Fancy taking on an unpaid commission?
The houses are all very quaint and pretty in a falling-down sort of a way.
But even the grand ones don’t look grand enough to have been the home of the Cookes!
Sir Harold Cookes, I, II & III, and all of your Ladies, Sir Norman Cooke and Lady Myrtle Upton, speak to me! Where did you live?
I listen, but the voices don’t come. Perhaps this branch of my tree is just too far removed, and too far up the social hierarchy, to be bothered with the likes of me – a redundant public-sector worker. I mean, just look at the depths to which I have dragged down the gene pool!
Okay Cookies (huh, not so posh with that nickname are you?), if you won’t speak to me in detail, just tell me one thing: Where can I find out more?
Still, the voices hold back … But, it matters not because, after ambling up and down a few side streets, I find myself in a market square.
Was this once the hub of Lavenham?
Certainly, I find myself looked down upon by some increasingly prestigious-looking buildings.
Have I made it into the heartland of the wealthy?
Sir Harold Cooke, can you hear me now?
Harold continues to ignore me and a ‘Tea Room’ sign, adorning some old Guildhall, hints that I might be thirsty. Hmm, but let me think … Should I spend the money? I see a number of books displayed in the neighbouring window. Nothing more to think about! I’m going in …
Making a beeline for the books, I forget all about the idea of tea and, instead … find myself paying up for a ticket into a National Trust Museum! How did this happen? Too poverty-stricken to quench my thirst, too classy to purchase a chick-lit, and yet thrifty enough to splash out £8 to fast-track myself into an 18th century workhouse!
I take a snap of the staircase, after checking that it’s person free. It’s a little alarming, therefore, that the image of a mystery man is present in a doorway off the landing! Is this the spirit of the overseer? If so, then I’m pleased to see that he’s modernised himself with an up-to-date Mountain Warehouse cagoule and designer frames from Specsavers. Never did like the garb worn by that evil geezer who dragged Oliver Twist around by his ears!
Flying up past the 17th century, I wonder how I am ever going to catch up with Sir Harold Cooke; if I want to be in the 14th century, do I need to backtrack into the cellars?
And it is indeed an awful long way up that staircase. Never was any good at the hills – some kind of inherited knee problem! Did one of the Sir Cookes have dodgy knees?
Plus, there’s a ghost at the top!
Anyone fancy joining me in the basement for a spot of wine tasting?
Copyright owned by Jay Cool, Sunday 17th November 2019
Tour of the Lavenham Guildhall coming up. Watch this space!
In the meantime, please, read, like and comment on the following posts: