Lavenham

 

Recently we had a day trip to one of Suffolk's interesting villages - Lavenham.  Lavenham is known as "one of the finest examples of a medieval wool town".  These days it's mostly famous in this region for it's crooked timber houses.  (More of that shortly  :) ) Lavenham is South-South-East of Bury St Edmunds, and is about an hour's drive from here.  Our first stop (after my usual bad-language-infested parking in a British public car-park with typically tiny parking places) was the village church.

As you can see, it's rather a large church by village/small town standards!  The official name is the Parish Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul and was started in the late 1400s.  It was the brainchild of the Lord of the Manor in 1485, John de Vere - the 13th Earl of Oxford.  He came back to town after fighting for Henry VII at the Battle of Bosworth Field ("A horse, a horse..... etc) and (with some other people) decided to give thanks by building a new church.  And obviously he thought  why not do it big  ;) 

PS:   Find out more about the Battle of Bosworth Field here:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Bosworth_Field

   

(Apparently the Rector Board dates back to the previous church on the site, by the way).  Just above the front door arch, to either side, there are two animal figures.  A closer inspection revealed these are pigs!  Are pigs associated with St Peter and St Paul?  Dunno.  Being two good Jewish gentlemen I would have doubted it, but ah well  :)

 

The stained glass was really beautiful.  It was a fine and sunny day, which of course helps to see it at it's best from within the church.  There were no 'relations' on the Roll of Honour from WWI, but a close view shows many people with the same surname - so no doubt particular families suffered greatly in the War. For those of you with a particular interest, the church is 191.5 feet long and 68 feet wide.  The Nave is 43 feet high, and the Tower is 141 feet high.  Yup, I got a pamphlet  ;)

   

The view from the 'back door' and around the side of the church was lovely - England at it's bucolic best!

From there it was on and down the hill into town.  Some people had gone to a lot of trouble to make their main-street homes look beautiful:

As well as the pretty (and rather traditionally English) flower garden in the house above, you can see some of the exposed timbers that mark this building as rather elderly!  This particular place is known as "Cordwainers".

   

Above is the Swan hotel (two views of it).  Records show that the Swan was in existence by 1425.  So it's entitled to be a bit on the wobbly side!  However if I were ever to stay in Lavenham, I'd certainly fancy this place - take a look at their webpage, and don't miss seeing the rooms or the restaurant (just avoid the price!):
http://www.theswanatlavenham.co.uk/

The Greyhound also looked like a nice place - they've gone to a lot of trouble with their exterior, and the result is worth it.... lovely!  I couldn't find their webpage (if they have one), so can't recommend it to you  ;)

And to finish with, two of the more spectacular examples of Lavenham buildings.  No commentary needed here! Although Jason, being an American, couldn't understand why they hadn't demolished them and built something that didn't lean.  Americans.  Bah.

So that's it from Lavenham.  For more about the village, try their own website:
http://www.lavenham.co.uk/

The town is well worth a visit if you're in the area, as there are quite a few interesting streets all featuring these buildings dating back to the 1400 and 1500s.  It's a bit yuppified now, though, with places like the Swan (did you check out their sample menu? Eek!) and a branch of the "Spirit of the Andes" shop ("Alpaca and Pima Cotton Knitwear handmade using the highest quality alpaca and pima cotton from Peru." as they say). 

All in all, a very pretty place and a pleasant day trip.

 

 

Go back to the main page if you want to see anything else  :)