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Author Sue Heaser set to publish Cobbold's Wortham - The Portrait Of A Victorian Village

Sue Heaser in front of White House Farm, which was known as Poplar Farm in 1860. Picture by Mark Bullimore.
Sue Heaser in front of White House Farm, which was known as Poplar Farm in 1860. Picture by Mark Bullimore.

Richard Cobbold, the rector of Wortham in the 1800s, said it in words and pictures. This summer, the villagers will say it in flowers.

A major festival is being planned with displays illustrating many of the 120 paintings by Cobbold in a book he created for his wife.

Flower displays of Cobbold’s stories will include the tale of John Buck, who fell down a well and miraculously survived to never drink another drop; old soldier Smith, who sat down in his wheelbarrow for a break and died; and the post office and its argumentative owner.

The post office is still much the same as it was in Cobbold’s time. That is not the case for all of his 120 illustrations of Wortham properties and author Sue Heaser said she felt like Agatha Christie’s Poirot as she went on a detective trail to match the buildings which Cobbold painted to how they are now.

Cobbold’s paintings and the hand-written stories are in his 1860 book Features of Wortham, which is owned by the Friends of Suffolk Records Office. “I saw it and was blown away by it,” said Mrs Heaser.

Now they are to be published for the first time in Mrs Heaser’s next book: Cobbold’s Wortham - The Portrait Of A Victorian Village, which will be out in October.

As well as writing, Mrs Heaser, who has lived in Wortham for 40 years, has also set up her own publishing company. “After 15 major books, mostly on design, I got fed up with meeting publishers’ deadlines,” she explained.

Although Cobbold’s writing and paintings are parochial, she is sure interest in her own book about him will have a wider interest.

Cobbold initially hated Wortham when he took up the living in 1825, but she said he eventually had a complete change of mind. “He was a real champion of the poor,” she said.

“When he died in 1877, the cortège behind his coffin was a mile long. He really was a good egg.”

  • The festival is on June 8 and 9 at St Mary’s Church from 11am to 5pm. On the Sunday, broadcaster Martha Kearney – another Wortham resident – will introduce Matthew McCombie and Olivia Stone, who will perform Music For A Summer Evening at 6pm. Proceeds are for the upkeep of Wortham church.

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