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