"THE MEDIEVAL WOOL TOWN OF LAVENHAM" Lavenham by allikat

Lavenham Travel Guide: 19 reviews and 69 photos

A MEDIEVAL GEM OF A TOWN

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 and Cons
  • 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.
  • Last visit to Lavenham: Aug 2007
  • Intro Updated Mar 16, 2008
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Reviews (8)

Comments (17)

  • Jun 13, 2009 at 1:33 AM

    yes I agree. This is a really friendly smashing family pub. Well worth a visit

  • Apr 21, 2008 at 7:02 AM

    I agree the best scones I've ever tasted went 20/04/08 the owner Mrs Spooner was so sweet to us and told us all about the ghost she had lots of time for us.

  • alucas's Profile Photo
    Mar 18, 2008 at 12:28 PM

    You've done this lovely 'town' justice with your excellent photos and tips. I've eaten in the Swan, but years ago, so can't remember much about it now ! Great updates !! Does M like Stilton ?

  • Anchovy56's Profile Photo
    Oct 8, 2007 at 1:29 PM

    I want to be a girlie just like my dear ma ma!!

  • sue_stone's Profile Photo
    Jun 13, 2007 at 11:39 AM

    Gorgeous photos - especially your opening one!! I am heading to Lavenham in a couple of weeks, thanks for the great tips : )

  • mvtouring's Profile Photo
    Feb 14, 2007 at 1:29 AM

    The crooked house looks fascinating ;-)

  • craic's Profile Photo
    Oct 25, 2006 at 3:29 PM

    what an enchanting place

  • Oct 15, 2006 at 2:44 PM

    Lovely picture of old building! Nikos

  • benazer's Profile Photo
    Oct 12, 2006 at 8:05 AM

    Thanks for dropping by on my pages Allison ,my nice friend from far off land. Always a pleasure to browse your pages. Az.

  • elucas's Profile Photo
    Sep 1, 2006 at 6:23 AM

    Hi. I do like your pages on the Essex and Suffolk villages, especially Coggeshall and Lavenham - very comprehensive tips. Best wishes, Liz.

allikat

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