Tutor to Edward VI and High Sheriff of Essex: Anthony Cooke, the man behind the St Edward’s memorial 

A memorial exists to Anthony Cooke in the Church of Et Edward the Confessor in Romford, which is where he was buried

A memorial to Anthony Cooke can be found in the Church of St Edward the Confessor in Romford, which is where he was buried after dying in 1576 - Credit: Ben Lynch

At the back of the Church of St Edward the Confessor in Romford’s Market Square is an elaborate memorial to one of the church's most famous occupants; Anthony Cooke. 

Born in 1505, Anthony Cooke was the son of John Cooke of Gidea Hall and Alice Saunders. 

During his life, he became known for his promoting of girls’ education, and potentially as a tutor to Edward VI, son of Henry VIII. 

His connections to Romford and Essex ran deep. Andy Grant, the Recorder's local historian, described the Cooke family as “the leading local gentry over a number of generations”. 

In 1545, Anthony Cooke furthered his local standing when he was made High Sheriff of Essex during the reign of Henry VIII.  

It was an appointment which, Andy said, made him "the king’s local representative for the shire of Essex, responsible for maintaining law and order in the county”. 

Despite being imprisoned in the Tower by Mary, Henry VIII's first daughter, Cooke was subsequently made High Steward of the Liberty for Havering when Elizabeth, Henry VIII's second daughter, ascended the throne.

He died on June 11, 1576, and was buried in St Edward's.

Vandalised by soldiers during the civil war, his tomb still bears the signs of damage today.