The Rope family has been an important part of Blaxhall for over 150 years, ever since the arrival of George, born at Cransford Hall in 1814, who served as church warden for over 30 years. They have a legacy as both farmers and artists, as well as a business shipping corn to Newcastle and returning to Iken with coal, but perhaps their biggest claim to fame lies with the magnificent stained glass windows, created in churches across the country by cousins Margaret Agnes Rope and Margaret Edith Rope. Though neither were born in Blaxhall, they spent much time here and retained a strong connection to their fathers’ birthplace and grandfather George’s residence, one result of which was the beautiful east window of St. Peter’s Church. Please click here to visit the Arthur Rope website (opens in a new tab/window) for more information on the lives and work of both Margarets, as well as information about their uncle, the talented artist, George Thomas Rope, and other important family members such as sculptress Ellen Mary. The family’s large white memorial is unmissable for anyone visiting the church.
George Rope 1814-1912
Another important family in Blaxhall’s history were the Bates’. The Bates family occupied Blaxhall Hall for at least 140 years, with several “George” Bates following each other during that time; the last lifetime resident died, aged 79, in 1857 and is buried in the churchyard in nearby Marlesford. His wife, Mary Elizabeth, died 13 years later and is buried with him. His parents are also located in the same tomb; they being George 1750-1831 & Mary 1756-1840. It appears that this George’s parents were also George and Mary and probably married in Little Glemham in 1737, with George being buried there in 1782. Why the family seemingly avoided Blaxhall churchyard during this period is something of a mystery, as they took a great liking to St Peter’s later on.
The last George’s son, another George, born c1830, occupied the Hall until around 1870 when he moved with his wife & children to Aldeburgh; three of his sons later emigrated and set up farms in America. His younger brother, Alfred Naunton Bates, was rector of Blaxhall from 1865 to 1886 and even has his name engaved on one of the church bells.( The church also contains a memorial to the earlier mentioned “George Bates Captain of the West Suffolk Militia and his wife Mary Elizabeth”. On top of the plaque a small stone shield bears the arms of the Bates family, which is crested by a stag’s head transfixed by an arrow.) Alfred’s son Ernest, born in Blaxhall c1869, was rector from 1896-1915 and there is a memorial (created by Ellen Rope) to his young son Alfred Aldrich Bates, who died aged 6 in 1904. Finally, there is a memorial to another of Ernest’s sons – Canon Herbert Naunton Bates and his wife Lucie, the last family members to live in the village. Both Alfred and Ernest are on the list of previous residents who received MAs at Cambridge.