Back to the last three days of our magical trip to Ireland and England.
At Meghan and Mike’s wedding, we were asking locals about sights to see around Bury St. Edmunds, and someone suggested Lavenham, “noted for its 15th-century church, half-timbered medieval cottages and circular walk. In the medieval period it was among the 20 wealthiest settlements in England.”
They also said it’s only about twenty minutes away, so we took a winding road from Bury St. Edmunds to Lavenham–what a delightful time we had.
The looming architectural presence on arrival was St. Peter and Paul’s Church.
The grounds are covered with crosses and graves. A sign greets you at the door: “Welcome to this Holy Place where people have worshipped and prayed for over 600 years.” The inside was massive and beautiful. I loved the stained glass windows and handcrafted cushions on the pews. The grandeur of the place was overwhelming and took my breath away.
In the corner by the front door, Lin and I were surprised to see an American flag. This plaque explains its presence there:
After parking the car, we walked through this amazing town with medieval buildings and modern cars side-by-side.
Our next stop was the Guildhall of Corpus Christi – “By the late 15th century, Lavenham was at the centre of the East Anglian wool trade and had become one of the richest towns in England. To reflect this prosperity, four guilds were established in the town by the local merchant families. The most important of these was the wool guild, which founded the Guildhall of Corpus Christi in 1529. Given the dominance of the cloth and wool trade, the guildhall soon came to function as Lavenham’s principal meeting place and centre of business, situated on the town’s thriving market place.
With the decline of the wool trade and Lavenham’s prosperity, the guildhall’s role changed. By 1689, and until 1787, the guildhall was in use as the Bridewell (a prison for petty offenders such as a reform school), and was then used as the workhouse.
Here we saw our first preserved cat–the British have a belief about cats.
Afterwards, we went to the plaza and found a hidden tea room, the Lavenham Blue Vintage Tea Rooms, for a full British Tea and scones. We relaxed on the patio and enjoyed the respite.
Our next stop was the Little Hall – “One of the oldest buildings in the best preserved of the Suffolk wool towns, this 14th century house was built for the Causton family of clothiers and its subsequent development has mirrored the changing fortunes of Lavenham.
Little Hall was restored by the Gayer-Anderson brothers who filled the house with art and artefacts collected during their extensive travels.”
Lavenham Little Hall was an Evacuation Centre for children being moved during World War II, and the children slept in the dormitory. Here are two portraits of children saved there.
The end the day we did a walking tour of Lavenham, seeing many examples of medieval architecture–the most notable to me was the Crooked house.
We so enjoyed this step back in history.
Have you ever visited a medieval village? Do you like history? Let me know your thoughts.
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