"THE MEDIEVAL WOOL TOWN OF LAVENHAM" Lavenham by allikat
Lavenham Travel Guide: 39 reviews and 189 photos
My first visit to the Suffolk town of Lavenham was when I was 14 years old on a school trip to learn about medieval Englands rural wool trade. My lifelong interest in the era was ignited then and there, and I remember staring at the herringbone brick and darkened timber of DeVere House and wondering what it would have been like to live in that house when the DeVeres were influential figures at the Tudor courts.
Lavenham became one of the wealthiest towns in all of England, at one time paying higher taxes to the Crown than the much larger cities of Lincoln and York. This wealth came from the production of woollen cloth - a speciality of the area since sometime around the 12th Century. Lavenham produced a particular cloth, a serge known as Lavenham Blue.
A direct result of this wealth is the Parish Church of Saints Peter and Paul, built as an act of thanksgiving for the safe return of the Lord of the Manor, John DeVere, from the Battle of Bosworth in 1485. It is considered to be one of Englands finest country churches, and it dominates the rural landscape for many miles.
Lavenham today is a picture postcard conservation area. Pretty much most of the buildings, many of which were built during the period of 1450 - 1530, are Grade 2 Listed or above, meaning they are protected to some degree against the advance of the modern age. Telegraph wires, for example, are underground and there are no street lamps. The buildings outward appearances and in many cases their interior structures are protected from alteration or removal. Many of the trees there have preservation orders.
I must stress - Lavenham is a town, not a village, although it would conform to most peoples idea of an English country village. Its town status (and that of every English town) is due not to size or population as is sometimes thought, but due to the granting of a Market Charter - Lavenhams charter was granted in 1257. The Market Cross, erected in 1501, can still be seen outside the impressive 16th Century Guildhall of Corpus Christi.
One of the things that many overseas visitors find fascinating about some of Englands timber framed architecture is the way many of the buildings lean, their timbers twisted with age, the walls very much out of true. Don't worry, they are not going to fall over! Having stood for centuries, many of these buildings do not even have proper foundations!
Watch out for heavily carved timbers - these are an indication that the original inhabitant was a wealthy family. The decorative patterns and shapes you sometimes see in the plasterwork is known as Pargetting, and can be seen all over the South East of England. Some of the houses will have a timber frame filled in with red clay brickwork in a herringbone pattern, a technique known as 'nogging'. There are few thatched roofs here in Lavenham, thatch being more commonly found on the homes of poorer inhabitants. There is something to see on every corner of this historic place.
- Pros:Chock full of history that you can see, feel and touch at every turn.
- Cons:The imposition of the modern age means too many cars in your photos!
- In a nutshell:An incredible example of a Suffolk Medieval Wool Town.
The local tourist information office is in Lady Street, which leads off from the Market Place. I think it looks a little... more travel advice
The Crooked House is one of Lavenham's more famous landmarks, and often features in pictures of the town. Built in 1425,... more travel advice
Written Oct 14, 2006
Lavenham Parish Church
Written Oct 20, 2005
A stroll around Lavenham
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