The Oakes family was originally from Yaxley. Joseph Oakes was baptized here, at St. Mary's parish church, 11 November, 1770. The village of Yaxley - the village name means "cuckoo-clearing - is on what was a ramrod-strait Roman road.

St. Mary's parish church

The church has a 14th century west tower, with narrow windows low down and the best tracery in the bell opening to the north. Blank arcading on the outer faces of the buttresses is flint filled below, with delicately carved stonework at the top. There is one niche on the west face of the tower.

Domesday Book: Yaxley - Iachele(i)a / Iacheslea: Hubert from Robert Malet's mother; Bishop of Thetford and Othem from him.

Entering the north porch one sees the splendid groined ceiling springing from angle shafts with tall capitals. The well carved bosses have suffered at iconoclastic hands.

The Nave: Entering the church, one sees on the right the oak door to the stair which leads up to the parvise chamber, whose brick floor follows the curvature of the vaulting below. In its day the room was an ideal place of safety for such valuables as the church possessed, stored in the the fifteenth century iron-bound chest.

The tower is squat.

There is a northern clerestory only. The nave roof was raised when the church was made grander by this addition. Long arch braces run up to the castellated collarbeams of the roof; the angels on the decorated wall plates and at the feet of the braces have all been removed.

The south porch is not a vestry, the wood and ironwork of the upper part of the door original. High up on the wall above the door hangs a piece of a blacksmith's work - a Sexton's Wheel. This curious survival is a device whereby those wishing to fast for a whole year from one of the six Lady days could choose one at random by catching one of six strings attached to named spokes after the sexton had set the wheels revolving.

The Chancel: The corbels are as new as the roof. The worn effigy of a 14th century incumbent lies on a narrow slab with quatrefoil decoration along the edge, under a niche as heavily restored as the piscine on the opposite wall.

Glass: The glass filling the windows of Yaxley church at the end of the 15th century will have been a rich sight. Some of it dates from two centuries earlier, when grisaille was fashionable. Some of the fragments of that ancient glass has been gathered and rearranged into the East window.

Here is the finest 17th century pulpit in the country, a good specimen of a bad period' - the Jacobite. The date 1635 is written on the tester canopy and on the canted back are the initials of churchwardens of that year.

There is an hour glass. Slots can be seen in the front of the pulpit and in the base of the screen into which fitted the reader's desk. Parts of this are built into the present priest's desk opposite the pulpit. The south aisle altar frontal covers a Stuart Holy Table, but of the other 17th century fittings only fragments remain: two pew side panels with carved cherubs and a few pew finials and altar rails stored in the upper tower room. The nave pews have poppy heads.

See Suffolk Churches

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