Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Lavenham has a well-deserved reputation as one of the prettiest and most photographed wool towns in England
Where is Lavenham?
A 15-minute drive south of Bury St Edmunds, this Suffolk town is well sign-posted off the A134 and A1141.
Visitors come to Lavenham from all over the world, attracted by its stunning half-timbered medieval and Tudor buildings, narrow streets and quaint atmosphere.
Its a tiny town, with a population that has never exceeded 2000, but its popularity means that in summer it bursts with tourists; so if you want the place to yourself then go out of season.
Lavenham took off in the middle ages thanks to the wool trade.
In the medieval period it was one of the 20 wealthiest towns in England and evidence of that prosperity can still be seen today in the wealth of timber-framed houses, most of which were built by prosperous wool merchants.
The older buildings centre on the market place and the ornate 16th century Guildhall, (right and below) now owned by the National Trust.
In the Tudor period, there was bear-baiting at the market cross.
Other notable buildings include the Wool Hall and the church of St Peter and St Paul, one of the most beautiful wool churches in the country.
It is richly carved, inside and outside and its huge flint tower rises to 141 feet, making it the tallest church tower in Suffolk.
Lavenhams quirky shops and galleries make it the perfect place for browsing.
The High Street is a jumble of crooked timber-framed merchants mansions and small, painted cottages, interspersed with unusual shops. Art lovers can choose from a number of galleries. There are several antique shops to browse through and specialist shops,
There is plenty to do nearby. Bury St Edmunds, with its shops, gardens and cathedral, is 15 minutes drive, while Colchester is just half an hour away.