Suffolk Jewels – Lavenham
Here in Suffolk we’re fortunate that there are so many beautiful and interesting historic places to visit that there is no shortage of places to take visiting guests.
So we thought we’d do an occasional series of some of them to give you some ideas and we’re starting with Lavenham, once at the heart of the wool trade that prospered in this part of East Anglia from the 13th to the 16th Centuries.
Just a few miles north east of Sudbury, and close to Hadleigh, both of them historic market towns, Lavenham contains more than 300 buildings of architectural importance from the Medieval and Tudor periods that have remained untouched by time.
The market place was built in the thirteenth century to coincide with the market charter being awarded in 1257.
Perhaps the most famous building in the heart of the town is the timber-framed Tudor Guildhall of Corpus Christi, where visitors can explore the stories of the influential men and women who shaped the town’s history at its prosperous height as the 14th wealthiest towns of Tudor England.
With the decline of the wool trade in the mid 16th Century Lavenham’s fortunes declined, although this may nowadays be counted as a blessing in disguise as there was little money available for updating its unique collection of buildings, now part of its attraction to visitors.
Over the years the town became the focus of other trades, which by the time of the Industrial Revolution included a factory for coconut matting, plaiting straw for bonnets, a steam flour mill and the first sugar beet factory in the region.
A horse hair factory was opened by Roper and Sons providing employment for the wives and daughters of farmers and farming was also a major source of employment, supporting stables, blacksmiths and forges.
For 21st Century visitors, the town combines the charm of a historic centre with buildings home to a wide variety of independent shops for those who enjoy a little retail therapy with their sightseeing, art galleries and of course a range of excellent places to eat and drink.
To find out more about Lavenham see http://www.discoverlavenham.co.uk/
Interesting facts about Lavenham
The children’s song “Twinkle, twinkle little star” was composed by a Lavenham resident, the poetess Jane Taylor, who together with her sister Ann, also a writer produced a collection called Rhymes for the Nursery.
In 1487, Henry VII visited the village and fined the local gentry, the De Vere family, for showing too much wealth in his presence.
Earlier this year Lavenham Farmers’ Market received the prestigious title of Best Food Market in Suffolk at the BBC Radio 4’s Food and Farming Awards. The market is held on every fourth Sunday of the month and features locally produced delicacies from more than 30 of the region’s small producers.
If you’re looking for an entertaining day out for visitors, why not let us transport you back in time to this beautiful little town in 21st Century comfort and style.