Jan
01

Lavenham Medieval Market Town

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MedievalTimberBuildingsLavenhamIf you ever visit the heart of Suffolk, you will find a number of medieval market towns that prospered from the wool trade during the 15th and 16th centuries. Places like Bury St Edmunds, Long Melford and others all have a charm of their own but without doubt, the most enthralling is Lavenham.

At its height, Lavenham was among the top 20 wealthiest places in England as the it reaped the rewards of the wool trade paying more tax that the large centres of Lincoln and York. Today, many of the beautiful old buildings remain and it is a wonderful place to walk around at your leisure visiting the museums, tea shops and browsing the antique stores looking for a bargain.

De Vere House, Lavenham

De Vere House, Lavenham

In the early days, the estate was owned by a tenant-in-chief of William the Conquerer called Aubrey de Vere. One of the many timber buildings in Lavenham today bears his name – De Vere House. This 14th century cottage was used to create the fictional village of Godric’s Hollow in the film “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows Part One”. If you fancy staying at De Vere House, it is a luxury self catering accommodation with two guest bedrooms.

Of all the wonderful medieval buildings in Lavenham, the best known is the Guildhall of Corpus Christi. This Tudor building has a number of museum rooms telling the tale of Lavenham’s history. The Guildhall was probably built in 1530 although the exact date is not known. The building has a chequered history and at one point in time was used as a prison. Some of the basement windows still have bars across them.

Guildhall of Corpus Christi, Lavenham

Guildhall of Corpus Christi, Lavenham

During World War II, Lavenham was home to one of the many American air bases and Station 137 was manned by the US Army Air Force 487th Bombardment Group between September 1943 and November 1945. Much of the base has been returned to fam land although parts of the runway still remain and the Control Tower is in the process of being restored. In the square in Lavenham, there is a plaque to the memory of the men of the 487th along with a more recent British casualty Lance Corporal of Horse “Jo” Woodgate who died in Afghanistan in 2010.

In all, there are over 300 buildings of historic significance in Lavenham which today is home to around 1,700 people. If you want to visit one of England’s finest examples of medieval history then Lavenham is the place to go. It is within easy driving distance of Colchester, Ipswich, Bury St Edmunds and Cambridge and should be one the list of any itinerary if you are ever in Suffolk.

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Comments

  1. The Wool Hall is another notable half-timbered building, a tribute to the source of Lavenham’s wealth. During the Middle Ages Lavenham was a thriving centre of the English wool trade, and the prosperous wool merchants are responsible for most of Lavenham’s memorable buildings, including the church of St. Peter and St. Paul , perhaps the finest “wool church” in the land.

  2. Andrea says:

    Oooh, I love these buildings – what a blast from the past!

    • Rob says:

      Hi Andrea,

      Lavenham is a lovely little place to visit. There are so many more pictures I could have included so I tried to pick the best ones.

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