Incredible anthology book celebrating Suffolk to be released for Queen's Jubilee

The editors of ‘A New Suffolk Garland’ Mary James, Dan Franklin, John James and Elizabeth Burke

The editors of ‘A New Suffolk Garland’ Mary James, Dan Franklin, John James and Elizabeth Burke, pictured at Aldeburgh Bookshop - Credit: Eamonn McCabe

This summer, people in every corner of the nation will gather together to celebrate Her Majesty the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. 

Closer to home, running alongside these patriotic celebrations, the Festival of Suffolk will be taking place.  

The festival – which will encompass a number of events across the county - hopes to be Suffolk’s ever biggest community event.  

Just some of these events on the county’s calendar include Suffolk Show, a special race day at Newmarket, the Let’s Rock Festival at Trinity Park, and a torch relay led by local heroes and members of the community.  

The book on Suffolk is being released to coincide with the Queen's Platinum Jubilee this year

The book on Suffolk is being released to coincide with the Queen's Platinum Jubilee this year - Credit: PA

A special souvenir book is also being released this May, giving residents of the county the chance to lose themselves in a keepsake read showcasing all that’s wonderful about Suffolk.

Entitled ‘A New Suffolk Garland’, the anthology features some of the best Suffolk-centric writing and art – both old and new – and is comprised of contributions from 90 authors and 45 artists and photographers. 

It has been carefully edited by Elizabeth Burke, Dan Franklin, and owners of Aldeburgh Bookshop John and Mary James, and is a revival based on an original anthology published in 1961 by East Suffolk Council entitled ‘A Suffolk Garland for the Queen; Plucked and arranged on the occasion of the Royal Progress of HM The Queen II’ through the county of Suffolk’. 

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The four editors thought an updated version would be the perfect way to celebrate this year’s Platinum Jubilee – and soon got to work on sourcing the material. 

A New Suffolk Garland

A New Suffolk Garland - Credit: Boydell and Brewer

“John and I were asked to do it and foolishly we said yes,” says Mary.   

“Dan Franklin, formerly senior editor at Jonathan Cape, had many excellent contacts and Elizabeth Burke runs Private Passions and works on Book of the Week and Book at Bedtime on Radio Four, so she was very good at extracting pieces. She was also an excellent interviewer.” 

But how did they decide on who to approach, and what to include within the book? 

“We just sat down with the other two editors, making a list of books about Suffolk that we liked,” explains John.   

“The original 1961 Garland was quite an eccentric book, and we wanted to capture some of that spirit in our collection, so we have included unusual ideas like the screen shot of the ships off the east coast of Suffolk, showing how busy the Port of Felixstowe is, as well the US Army memo about the UFO sightings in Rendlesham Forest. We have also included current media, too.”   

Mary and John James of Aldeburgh Book Shop

Mary and John James of Aldeburgh Book Shop - Credit: Eamonn McCabe

Other themes within the book include iconic items and places such as the Sutton Hoo helmet, Ipswich Town football club, Newmarket racecourse, the Suffolk dialect, Lowestoft fish market, and the Aldeburgh Festival. 

“We also had to think about different parts of Suffolk, because you can’t get every single town and village in, but we wanted to get as wide a view of the county as we possibly could. It isn’t a complete list, but more of a personal view. There will be places and subjects that we have missed, but that is the nature of this type of project,” adds John.  

Extracts of published work featured within include Charles Dickens’ ‘The Pickwick Papers’ about Ipswich, Ed Sheeran’s ‘Castle on the Hill’ lyrics about Framlingham, Richard Curtis’ script from the film ‘Yesterday’, and writer Ronald Blythe’s descriptions of the medieval deer park at Staverton Thicks.  

“Everyone we approached was so keen to get involved, and it is a testimony to the love people have for Suffolk.”    

The book will pay homage to a number of Suffolk icons, including Newmarket racecourse

The book will pay homage to a number of Suffolk icons, including Newmarket racecourse - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

The anthology also includes thoughts on Suffolk from Josephine, the carer who moved to the county from Rwanda, and Albert Grant, Ipswich’s first Black councillor and mayor. 

From the undiscovered treasures of Suffolk’s churches, and the Suffolk Punch stable, to swimming with otters in the River Waveney, and the golden aureoles of Lakenheath, the collection certainly encapsulates all that is special about Suffolk.  

The book costs £20 but there is also a limited special edition costing £100 - the first copy of which will be given to HM The Queen. 

A copy of the anthology is also being presented to every secondary school and library in Suffolk. 

All profits raised from the book will go to the Festival of Suffolk Legacy Fund. With a target of £5million by 2025, this will be administered by Suffolk Community Foundation and given in grants to charities working to address needs in Suffolk relating to community, health and wellbeing, opportunity and education, enterprise, environment, and culture and tourism. 

‘A New Suffolk Garland’ will be released on Thursday May 12, and will be available from festivalofsuffolk.org, newsuffolkgarland.co.uk, and Aldeburgh Bookshop.