A civil servant by day who has a passion for exploring what Great Britain has to offer in my spare time.
Published January 10th 2015
One of England's best preserved medieval villages
One of Suffolk's most famous villages, Lavenham has to rank as one of the most historic medieval villages in England. It is known as a 'wool town' because the wool trade brought great prosperity to parts of East Anglia in the medieval period and Lavenham became one of its leading centres. Its blue cloth was one of its most valuable commodities. The trade gradually died out but thanks to the fact the many historic buildings in Lavenham survived, the 20th and 21st centuries have brought a different industry, tourism, to the village and it is once again thriving.
Almost everywhere you look you will see timber framed buildings, so synonymous with this part of Suffolk. The market place is delightful and has retained its historical buildings yet continues to thrive with its excellent range of shops and businesses. This can also be said of the High Street, the steepest part of the village, where more independent shops and businesses are to be found trading in everything from antiques, art galleries and gift shops to tea rooms and hotels.
In the Market Square, the Guildhall prominently takes pride of place. Built in the 16th Century, this was once an important centre of trade and later on used as a prison and workhouse. The building is now cared for by the National Trust and is open to visitors for most of the year where visitors can learn more about Lavenham's industries, and enjoy a cream tea if one feels peckish.
Lavenham's Little Hall is a building dating back to the 14th century. It houses a collection of artefacts collected by the Gayer-Anderson brothers in the 1920s and 1930s which is open to visitors, who can also explore the delightful gardens. The artist John Constable was for a time a pupil of The Old Grammar School in Barn Street, which is now a private residence.
Lavenham's wealth was vital in the construction of its impressive church of St. Peter and St. Paul which is one of the county's finest churches. The impressive 141ft high tower dominates the village and landscape for miles around. The result is a light and welcoming church of gigantic proportions. Whilst this is an architectural gem, it has to be remembered that this is not a museum piece but a place of worship very much alive and well as it has been for centuries.
It would be impossible to highlight all of Lavenham's landmarks simply because there are so many! My advice is to simply walk around the village at your leisure.
Most people visit Lavenham by private transport and the car parks in the town are free of charge although regular bus services serve Lavenham from Bury St. Edmunds and Sudbury.
Lavenham's charm is in that it has maintained its feel of a small community. The locals appear to make visitors very welcome. Once you visit, it's very easy to see why thousands of people visit Lavenham every year.