Lavenham is often called the finest medieval town in England and is perhaps the most famous of the Suffolk wool towns. Lavenham once enjoyed such a high standing that in the reign of Henry VIII, it was ranked as the fourteenth wealthiest town in England.
For at least 500 years, the manufacture of various kinds of cloth and the preparation of wool and yarn were the main source of this wealth. The appearance of the town has changed little over the years: half-timbered houses lean merrily over the narrow streets while the magnificent Swan Hotel, a mass of wooden beams, now encompasses several surrounding cottages.
The Church of St Peter and St Paul is huge, given the size of the town and this is a sign of great wealth during its wool town heyday. The church is open to the public and once a year, the tower is also open for those with a head for heights, offering lovely panoramic views of the town.
The Lavenham Sinfonia performs regularly in the church so do keep an eye on our events listings for the Heart of Suffolk for more details.
The famous Lavenham Guildhall, built in 1529 by the Guild of Corpus Christi, is perhaps the town’s most prominent feature. It is owned by the National Trust and is open to the public. Little Hall, on the east side of Market Place, is the headquarters of the Suffolk Preservation Society and is also open to the public.
The “finest medieval town in England” has more than 300 buildings listed as being of architectural and historical interest. The town also has an a wonderful selection of art galleries, independent shops, tearooms, restaurants and several superb hotels.
There are also regular farmers’ markets and craft fairs in Lavenham; an annual carnival and vintage car show; a wonderful Christmas market and other events throughout the year.
The lyrics from the popular lullaby “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” are from an early 19th-century English poem called “The Star” which was written by Jane Taylor when she lived in Shilling Street in Lavenham with her family. As you pass by the house, you can see the window where it is thought she sat and looked out at the night sky.
Need to Know…
You can book tickets for guided walks around Lavenham which take place at weekends throughout the season (Easter – end October) or at other times by arrangement. Give the tourist information centre a call on 01787 248207 for further details and to book.