We have struggled to find the time to get away lately, so when we had the chance a few weeks ago, we jumped in the car and headed about and hour away from Essex, to beautiful Suffolk. For me, Suffolk is one of the prettiest counties and I always love going there.
Lavenham in Suffolk is said to be one of the best preserved Medieval villages in the UK. With its timber framed buildings, crocked little town houses and traditional village square, it really feels like you have stepped on to the set of a period drama. I admit to having a passion for quirky buildings and architecture, and the houses and buildings in Lavenham feed this obsession in abundance. In the 1500’s Lavenham was a thriving market town, and was known to be the epicentre of the wool trade, making it one of the richest villages in the UK at the time. The timber buildings, (of which Lavenham has over 300) were built as a sign of the villages wealth. I love that!
The Guildhall, which is the focal point of the village square, was the place where the rules and laws were made, trading deals were set up and the wealthiest of the village held court. Bit like the house of commons then! Now owned and operated by The National Trust, this impressive building now lends itself to house a local history museum, tea rooms and tourist attraction.
We spent our time wandering around the narrow streets of Lavenham, happy to just imagine the past of the village and admire the buildings. The residents of Lavenham seem to take huge pride in their homes too, some of the gardens were just gorgeous! The village has a very traditional feel to it, with shops that are beautifully presented and full of character. In keeping with the villages wool trade history, there are many places to buy beautiful, hand made knitted clothes. If we had been able to spend more time there, I would have browsed the shops and hopefully have brought back something unique. It will be on my list to do when we return to stay for a few days in a couple of months.
As we strolled around the square, I got chatting to a man that was trying to take a photo of The Guildhall, as I was. He was fairly local to Lavenham, but often travelled there on the bus to indulge in his hobby of photography. He was great to chat to as he told us lots of snippets of information, including the fact that one of the houses was used In the Harry Potter films. De Vere house was used as the family home of Harry Potter in Deathly Hallows, and apparently, its front door is photographed only slightly less than the door of number 10 Downing Street. After a swift G& T in the historic pub, we set off in search of wizards..
Walking to just outside of the village square is the most gorgeous guesthouse and spa. The Swan is a 15th century property, that is one of the most gorgeous buildings in Suffolk I think. My husband popped in to enquire about staying, but it was fully booked. I was secretly pleased as that gave me an idea for a gift for him for our 20th wedding anniversary. Nik and I are going back to stay there for a couple of nights in October. Get me in that spa!
Now, if any of you have read any of my other Exploring England posts on the blog, you will know that we absolutely cannot go out for a day trip, without stopping in one of the tea rooms for a cuppa and cake/lunch. Here was no exception and you have little hidden tea rooms and places to eat in abundance to choose from. We popped into Lavenham Blue Vintage Tea Rooms and had a spot of well needed lunch. Well, its rude if you dont isnt it……..
Lavenham is yet another beautiful place that we have discovered within day trip reach. We are looking forward to returning in October, and we hope to take in a few more of the sights and surrounding area, such as Kersey the gorgeous milling village a stones throw away from Laveham, as we will have more time. I blooming love England and am so glad we decided that we need to explore it more!