Famous son of Woodbridge celebrated

ONE of Woodbridge's most famous residents has been commemorated with a blue plaque to identify the house in which he lived.

Richard Cornwell

ONE of Woodbridge's most famous residents has been commemorated with a blue plaque to identify the house in which he lived.

This year marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of poet Edward FitzGerald and the 150th anniversary of the publication of his translation of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam.

The plaque on his former home of Little Grange, Pytches Road, is one of eight the Woodbridge Society has put on buildings around the riverside town to mark their association with prominent past residents. It was unveiled by town mayor Les Binns.

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Mr FitzGerald, was born in 1809 in Suffolk, and was educated at Bury St Edmunds and Trinity College, Cambridge, where he became friends with writers William Makepeace Thackeray and Alfred Tennyson.

The FitzGeralds were one of the wealthiest families in the country and he had no need to work, turning instead to writing, publishing his own verse, editing anthologies, and translating.

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His translation of the Rubaiyat, a selection of poems originally written in Persian, led to them selling widely.

Mr FitzGerald lived all his adult life in Suffolk, enjoying sailing off the county's coast, and settled in Woodbridge in 1873, where he stayed until his death ten years later. He is buried at Boulge.

Other homes given plaques are those of Norman Heatley OBE, a pioneer of the production of penicillin, who lived at Orchard House, The Thoroughfare; BBC director general Sir Ian Jacob's home at Red House, Cumberland Street; Barclays Bank, Church Street, where John Clarkson, a campaigner for the abolition of slavery, lived and worked; and Barton Cottage, Cumberland Street, home of Bernard Barton, a Quaker poet; Marston House, Cumberland Street, home of painter Thomas Churchyard; the Abbey School, home of Thomas Seckford, Master of the Court of Requests at the time of Queen Elizabeth I; and topographical artist Isaac Johnson's home on Market Hill.

Tony Hubbard, chairman of The Woodbridge Society, said: “Edward Fitzgerald is the best known of the eight eminent Woodbridgians we have honoured so far with blue plaques, and this year is the bicentenary of his birth.

“It is therefore fitting that we should feature him in the ceremonial unveiling of the scheme. We shall follow with more plaques, and we intend to develop a town walk taking them in, with a printed guide.”

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