Lavenham is one of the most visited villages in Suffolk. This gorgeous town is filled with Tudor townhouses and crooked cottages. Take a walk down the main street and you will see plenty of these fabulous old timber-framed buildings.
We stopped in Lavenham to have a look around, took copious amounts of photos of houses that looked like they were about to fall down, and had some lunch at the historic Swan hotel.
"Crazy mirror" houses
"Medieval Suffolk Wool Town"
Situated in the south-west corner of Suffolk, surrounded by undulating countryside, Lavenham stands proudly on the top of a hill, with smaller weaving villages nesting in the Brett Valley (from the book-guide). We visited this nice town with help of our friend Mark in August 2006.
No, You're Not Imagining Things...
... many of the houses and buildings are ACTUALLY crooked! What a neat little place to visit. About 300 of the buildings here are listed and preserved. It has had quite a long and interesting history and has been around since the medieval times. You can almost feel like you are traveling back in time when you walk the little streets.
The last time I was here was probably in 1995, so I don't remember many details. I was there for an afternoon. But the crooked buildings made an impression on me. I've never seen the like anywhere else!
Visit: http://www.lavenham.co.uk/ for more information.
THE MEDIEVAL WOOL TOWN OF LAVENHAM
"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.
Picturesque English Village
Lavenham in Suffolk is the classic example of an English village. It is full of classic timber houses and antique shops dating back to medieval and Tudor times. The population is less than 2,000 so it's quite a small place but in the summer, it's busy with tourists.
It's location in rural Suffolk means it's only really accessable by car but once there it's a beautiful place to walk around for a few hours. The best thing to do is stop here as part of a day of travelling around rural Suffolk.