is one of the best preserved Medieval villages in the UK, boasting some 320 listed timber framed buildings, many of them protected by English Heritage.
This is unique village was created some 750 years ago by Henry III when he granted Lavenham 'market status' which stimulated the most prosperous period in the village's history.
Until that Charter was granted the Village had a thriving market - records show that in 1202 the Abbott of Bury St Edmunds complained it was overshadowing his market – but the Charter marked a turning point in Lavenham's fortunes. Traders flocked to the village to take advantage of its thriving wool trade, and by 1524 Lavenham was ranked the 14th richest town in the country thanks to the famous Lavenham Blues cloth.
It’s not clear why Lavenham
became the epicentre for the wool trade but it might have been down to the fact that proportionately fewer people in Suffolk were bound to a local lord (41% of Suffolk people were Freemen compared to just 9% in neighbouring Essex) which enabled them to be entrepreneurial. However we do know that the riches of Lavenham’s residents have left a unique legacy in the shape of the stunning timber-framed houses that they built to show off their wealth, as well as the Lavenham Guildhall
) (pictured top).
Landmark buildings such as the Guildhall in the market square, the opulent St Peter and St Paul Church (below) and Lavenham Priory were built during this boom.
One other legacy of the wool trade might also be unique craft shops specialising in hand made knitted clothes. As you stroll around Lavenham you'll see several of these independently owned and run shops and boutiques which have been lost from most High Streets.
The boom in Lavenham
didn’t last as Flemish weavers settled in Essex and began to compete with indigenous weavers. Also in the 16C Henry V111 imposed heavy taxes wherever he could to finance wars against France, so the money was quickly drained from the village. As a result residents couldn't afford to rebuild these houses so they were left intact and where one family had previously shared a house, 3 or 4 families moved in to share the running costs and maintenance.
The village revived in the early 19C when the railway (since defunct alas) breathed new life into the area, and opened it up for trading in coconut matting and horse hair manufacturing.
is a thriving village with a strong community spirit. It has a hub of art galleries, some fantastic restaurants and hotels, plenty of cafes and pubs for pit stops, and lots of interesting buildings to visit.
One of these is The Swan at Lavenham
, which dates back to the 15th Century when it played a key role in Lavenham's wool trade. Today it is a quintessential English country hotel and restaurant, proud of its achievement of an AA four star 81% rating and two AA Rosettes. In addition, The Swan boasts a wonderful collection of memorabilia, including a wall signed by British and American airmen stationed at Lavenham Airfield during World War I - the image below is a display of some of the signatures of soldiers in the War who were based nearby.
You will be spoilt for choice of where to eat in Lavenham as another top quality East Anglian restaurant (with rooms) is The Great House
which offers 5 star accommodation and has achieved 2 AA Rosettes for its award winning French cuisine. Situated on the main market square you can't miss this attractive building.
Lavenham holds a Farmers Market
on the fourth Sunday of every month in the beautiful space at Village Hall. Over 30 local traders attend the market selling some of the region’s highest quality, local produce. Stalls include fresh fruit & vegetables, home baked cakes & pies, local pork & beef, Suffolk apple juice, jams & preserves, fresh pesto, plants & cut flowers and locally brewed real ales & wines. The fantastic kid friendly Farmers’ Cafe serves delicious homemade soup, freshly baked cakes, Farmers’ Breakfasts & good quality coffee using local products direct from the market traders.
Lavenham Village Hall, Church St, Lavenham, CO10 9QT
FREE ENTRY, FREE PARKING. 10am until 1.30pm.
Find other local Farm Shops & Farmers Markets in Suffolk here
Lavenham is well worth a visit at any time of the year!Useful Links
- Accommodation in & around Lavenham Lavenham Hotels
For things to do in the area see Long MelfordBury St Edmunds
For more information on Lavenham
and things to do there, please see Visit Lavenham
What did you get up to on your visit to Lavenham? What's your favourite thing about Lavenham? Please send your comments and reviews to firstname.lastname@example.org