Stunning photos of medieval Lavenham

Little Hall, Lavenham, Suffolk. Credit: VisitBritain/Richard Surman
Little Hall is a late 14th-century hall house on the market square in Lavenham, which houses a museum. Credit: VisitBritain/Richard Surman

There are few English villages as pretty as Lavenham in Suffolk, which was one of the richest towns in Tudor England.

The Crooked House Gallery and Tea Room, Lavenham, Suffolk, England. Credit: Alistair Laming/Alamy
Stop off for tea at the well-named Crooked House Gallery and Tea Room. Credit: Alistair Laming/Alamy

If you want to visit an old English town with beautiful half-timbered buildings in spades and plenty of quaint places to eat and drink, Lavenham is for you.

Medieval beams round window on a Lavenham house, Suffolk, England. Credit: Rod Edwards/VisitBritain
Details such as these medieval beams remain today. Credit: Rod Edwards/VisitBritain

Though we now know Romans settled on its outskirts, as did the Saxons – its name comes from an early Saxon thane called Lafa and means simply ‘Lafa’s home’ – it is for its medieval buildings, relics from its time as a thriving wool town, for which it is best known today.

At its peak Lavenham was the 14th richest town in England; when King Henry VII visited in 1487 he actually fined the village’s most powerful family, the De Veres, for being too ostentatious with their wealth.

The wool trade fell into decline from 1525 – by the time Queen Elizabeth I visited Lavenham in 1578 its five guildhalls had become workhouses – however, this turn of fortune is what saved the beautiful village of Lavenham as we know it, as inhabitants couldn’t afford to transform their properties during the extravagant Georgian period, so the medieval buildings were preserved.

Little Hall, Lavenham, Suffolk. Credit: VisitBritain/Richard Surman
Little Hall is a late 14th-century hall house on the market square in Lavenham, which houses a museum. Credit: VisitBritain/Richard Surman
This half-timbered building in medieval Lavenham is one of many. Credit: VisitBritain/Britain on View
This half-timbered building is one of many. Credit: VisitBritain/Britain on View
Lavenham timbered building, Suffolk, England
Credit: VisitBritain/Britain on View
The Wool Hall, Lavenham, Suffolk, England
The Wool Hall. Credit: VisitBritain/Britain on View
The Swan Hotel & Spa, Lavenham, Suffolk. Credit: nicksmithphotography.com
The 15th-century Swan Hotel, in Lavenham, has been welcoming guests in some form or other for centuries. Credit: nicksmithphotography.com
Oak-beamed bedroom at the Swan hotel & Spa, Lavenham. Credit: nicksmithphotography.com
An oak-beamed bedroom at the Swan Hotel & Spa. Credit: nicksmithphotography.com
Aerial view of medieval Lavenham, Suffolk
Aerial view of Lavenham
Lavenham, Church of St Peter and St Paul, Suffolk, England
The early Saxon settlement in Lavenham was near the present-day Church of St Peter and St Paul
Detail of half-timbered house, Lavenham. Credit: Richard Surman/VisitBritain
Credit: Richard Surman/VisitBritain
Lavenham house, Suffolk, England. Credit: Rod Edwards/VisitBritain
Credit: Rod Edwards/VisitBritain

Read our full feature on Lavenham in the Sept/Oct 2015 (Nov 2015) issue of BRITAIN.

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