Lavenham is a lovely Suffolk town situated in Constable country. In Tudor times, Lavenham was said to be the fourteenth wealthiest town in England, despite its small size. Built on the success of the wool trade, its fine timber-framed buildings and beautiful church make it a fascinating place to explore today.
Dating back to the Saxon period, the town was granted its market charter in 1257 and started exporting its famous blue broad cloth as far afield as Russia. It continued to prosper until the late 16th century when Dutch refugees in Colchester began weaving a lighter, cheaper and more fashionable cloth.
As a result, most of the buildings in Lavenham today date from the 15th century and the town has remained largely unchanged ever since.
The late 15th-century timber-framed Guild Hall overlooks and dominates the town’s market square. The hall was built by the Guild of Corpus Christi, one of three guilds founded in Lavenham to regulate the wool trade. The carving of rampant lions on the doorpost of the hall is the emblem of the Guild. Today it holds exhibitions on local history, farming and industry, as well as the story of the medieval woollen trade.
As well as its many historic buildings, Lavenham is also blessed with good pubs, fine places to eat and fascinating antique shops to browse around. This part of Suffolk is renowned for its historic houses and pretty villages: Stoke by Nayland, Brent Eleigh, Monks Eleigh, and Chelsworth, for example.
Long Melford, with its many antique shops and associations with the TV series ‘Lovejoy’, is close by. The towns of Sudbury and Bury St. Edmunds are also within easy reach. A little further afield you will find Dedham and Flatford Mill in the heart of Constable country.