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St Michael, Cookley, Suffolk

(52°19′34″N, 1°26′44″E)
TM 349 754
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Suffolk
now Suffolk
  • Ron Baxter

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Feature Sets

Cookley is in East Suffolk, towards the N, some 2½ miles SW of Halesworth, in the arable boulder-clay plateau typical of High Suffolk. The village comprises just the church, a few cottages and a farm along a by-road that follows the course of a stream that flows eastwards to join the river Blyth at Halesworth. The church and houses are on the rising ground to the N of the stream, while to the S is the woodland of Broomgreen Covert.

St Michael's consists of a nave with a S porch and a N vestry, a chancel and W tower. Chancel and nave are of the same height, the chancel slightly narrower. There is no chancel arch. The nave is of flint with some reused ashlar. It has a 12thc. N doorway, now inside a 20thc. vestry of concrete block construction with steel-framed windows. The later S doorway is protected by a 20thc. timber porch. The nave windows are Perpendicular in style but largely replacements of 1894. The chancel arch is 19thc. too, but the chancel has one 13thc. lancet and two reticulated windows of c.1320 on the S, with some original tracery. The geometric E window is 19thc. The chancel is of flint, septaria and cobble construction. At the west end of the nave is a blocked 12thc. window into the tower, and this is also 12thc.; of flint, plain and unbuttressed but taller than it once was. There is a brick pointed lancet in the S wall, but the W window and bell-openings have the Y-tracery ofc.1300. The battlemented parapet has flushwork decoration and is later still. In a restoration of 1894, described as 'shocking' by the normally unshockable Cautley, the entire interior was remodelled and most of the old furnishings, including the box-pews, were thrown out. The Stuart pulpit ended up in Chediston church, and part of the rood screen was recently discovered supporting a henhouse, and now stands in the SE corner of the nave. The only Romanesque sculpture here is on the N nave doorway.


The manor of Cookley was held by William d'Ecouis in 1086 and by Howard de Vernon and Robert de Vaux from him. In the valuation, Howard's part was valued at 50s and Robert's at 8s. In the Confessor's reign Wulfric, a free man, had held it. It consisted of six carucates of land, six acres of meadow, woodland for 80 pigs and half a church with an acre of land. A smaller holding was in the hands of Godric, a free man, before the Conquest This comprised 30 acres with two acres of meadow, and was held by Robert de Vaux from Roger Bigod in 1086.

Benefice of Heveningham with Ubbeston, Huntingfield and Cookley.


Exterior Features



The structure of the doorway and the capitals, but not the imposts or the arch decoration, is matched at nearby Ubbeston. Similar capitals are also seen on the S transept chapel arch and a loose stone at St Bartholomew’s, Orford.

H. M. Cautley, Suffolk Churches and their Treasures. London 1937, 243.
D. P. Mortlock, The Popular Guide to Suffolk Churches: 3 East Suffolk. Cambridge 1992.
N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Suffolk. Harmondsworth 1961, rev. E. Radcliffe 1975, 175.