Village celebrates links to US settlers

It is a village of just over 100 people, but it has played as great a role as anywhere outside of the United States in the history of that country.

By SARAH BREALEY

It is a village of just over 100 people, but it has played as great a role as anywhere outside of the United States in the history of that country.

Now a book has been published recording the connections between Sotterley, near Beccles, and some of the most prominent people of America's past.

Welcome to Sotterley and its Important Transatlantic Connections has been timed to coincide with the 400th anniversary next month of the founding of Jamestown, Virginia, which was the first permanent English colony to survive in the United States.

For the past 700 years the Sotterley estate has been owned by three families: the Sotterleys (also spelt Satterley), the Playter (or Plater) and the Barne family. The Sotterley family were some of the early settlers of America; Henry Yates Satterley became Bishop of Washington DC and helped to set up the National Cathedral. The Barne family had connections with Suffolk man Bartholomew Gosnold, who helped to found the Jamestown settlement, and one of its descendants sailed with Sir Francis Drake, and rescued the failed Roanoke colony of Virginia from starvation.

Today there is a Sotterley Plantation in Maryland, largely built by the Plater family and designated a National Historic Landmark by the United States government. It was admired by George Washington and may have served as a model for his Mount Vernon home. The estate passed out of the Plater family in the 19th century but, in a twist of fate, was bought in 1910 by Herbert Satterley, whose ancestors were former owners of Sotterley Hall.

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Richard Lloyd, 74, whose wife Marion is a Barne, has written the book for the Sotterley Charitable Trust and hopes it will help to raise money for the trust from Americans with connections to the village.

He said: "All that action took place in the States from a tiny village which now has 100 adults but previously had 350 at most. I think it is fascinating."

The book also gives information about St Margaret's church, itself filled with memorials of the three families, particularly the Playters. It contains the most famous tomb in Suffolk, sculpted by a man who became Charles II's official sculptor. It shows Thomas Playter mourned by all 22 of his children - including one shown gossiping with her sister.

The Rev Paul Nelson, rector of the Hundred River group of parishes, said: "This is a unique place. I think the book will help to engender local pride in the beauty and history of the village."