Walk 12: Lavenham Town Walk: It’s all a bit ‘Wonky’

The ‘Needs to Know’

Distance: Not really a formal walk this one, more a case of exploration, but it’s only a couple of miles around this small town

Time to walk: About an hour but it’s worth taking longer to explore the shops, church & Guildhall

Difficulty: All on hard paths

Parking: We parked in the public car park off Prentice Street

Public toilets: In the car park above or off Church Street

Map of the route: 

Lavenham in Suffolk has been described as the “finest medieval town in England” & has more than 300 buildings listed as being of architectural and historical interest

One of Suffolk’s Wool Towns, in 1524 it was the 14th wealthiest town in the country. It’s also know as the food capital of Suffolk & ‘Wonky Town’ – we’ll see why on our walk

2007 saw the 750th anniversary of the granting of Lavenham’s Market Charter on 15th September 1257 when Henry III was on the throne. The charter granted to Hugh de Vere, Lord of the Manor allowed the town market’s to be held

We’ll explore more of the history as we go. One thing to point out here is that we don’t cover all the historic properties in the town on this stroll, but it will give you a good flavour of the place & maybe entice you to visit

So anyway…

Let’s Walk!

1. As mentioned our walk starts in the public car park off Prentice Street & we turn right towards the Market Place. On the right is The Angel Hotel

The Angel Hotel was first licensed in 1420 & is believed to be Lavenham’s oldest inn

Recently purchased, renovated & refurbished by famous chef Marco Pierre White, the Angel Hotel is now one of his Wheeler’s of St. James’s country inns

2. On entering the Market Place there’s quite a few small shops etc to explore

Weekly markets in Lavenham date back to 1290

The Market Cross was left in his will to the town by William Jacob in 1500

3. On the left is also one of Lavenham’s best known buildings…The Guildhall of Corpus Christi

In 1946 The Guildhall was given to the Lavenham Preservation Committee & then in 1951  passed to The National Trust

The Guildhall contains exhibitions plus more information about the cloth trade. The garden contains plants from which the unique blue dye was taken. Woad was used to produce the famous Lavenham Blue

4. Time to move on down Lady Street past the end of The Guildhall…

Lavenham looks even better under a beautiful spring day sky

Lavenham looks even better under a beautiful spring day sky

Lady Street takes its name from the Gild of Our Lady & was previously know as Master John’s Street & Baber Street. On the left is the excellent Tourist Information Office which is well worth a visit – even if to pick up the excellent guide which has helped us write this walk

'Wonky' property on the left!

‘Wonky’ property on the left!

The view down Lady Street

The view down Lady Street

5. On the left corner sits ‘Number Ten’ one of Lavenham’s restaurant/bars. It’s in one of the town’s gorgeous Tudor Houses…

 6. On the opposite side of the road is The Wool Hall…

This building started life as the hall of the Guild of Blessed Virgin. It was one of the four medieval guilds in Lavenham & was converted into a Wool Hall in the late sixteenth century

It was restored by Princess Louise, Duchess of Argyll around 1911 who then transferred it to Mrs Culver when it became the Railway Women’s Convalescent Home. Today it forms part of the Swan Hotel

7. We now turn right into Water Street which takes its name from the stream running along the whole of the street beneath the houses on the right hand side

On the right is another of Lavenham’s famous hotels…The Swan

Have a look at the above link for full details about this lovely old hotel. The Swan was built in about 1400 & is made up of three houses dating from the same period. The oldest part dates back to the late 14th Century

In 1980 the marijuana smuggler Howard Marks was arrested in the bar!!

There’s also some interesting shops on the other side of the street, but we’ll have a look at them on our way back

8. Let’s now turn right & have a walk up The High Street…

Just wants to make you walk up it!

Just wants to make you walk up it!

This road originally connected the manors of Overhall & Netherhall. Walking past the outside of The Swan we come to another pub…The Greyhound

The pub dates back to the 15th Century & Napoleon Bonaparte is said to have stayed there when a prisoner of war

9. On the right further up there’s more great properties…

The view back down the High Street

The view back down the High Street

10. Let’s cross over the road now & head back down the hill seeing what we can find on the other side…

Tickle Manor is the home to Tickled Pink Tea Room. The Tea Room is reputedly haunted & has been the subject of the TV programme ‘Most Haunted’

11. Still not convinced this is a ‘Wonky Town’? Have a look at The Crooked House’ further along the High Street

The 15th Century building reports to be the one in the well known nursery rhyme…

‘There was a crooked man,
Who walked a crooked mile,
He found a crooked sixpence
Upon a crooked stile.
He bought a crooked cat
Which caught a crooked mouse
And they all lived together
In a crooked little house’

Today it holds an art gallery which includes items such as contemporary sculpture, textiles, pottery, jewellery, stained glass, paintings & prints

Also within the building is Munnings Tea Room Emporium

12. Suitably refreshed? Then let’s carry on down the High Street across the junction with Hall Road

What's this statue about on the corner?

What’s this statue about on the corner?

13. It’s great to see that towns like Lavenham still have fantastic independent shops. One of these is DM Newman Butchers on the right…

It was closed as we visited late on Saturday, but the signs in the window show what goodies are on offer here…

 14. We’d heard that the church was well worth a look so followed the High Street round to the right as it becomes Church Street. On the left is yet another pub…The Cock

Nice floral displays up here

Nice floral displays up here

15. Finally on the right we come to the Church of St Peter & St Paul

The church was built between 1486 & 1525 & is approached through lines of immaculately trimmed box hedges

The nave in this church has a link with our own Northamptonshire as that’s where the limestone for it was sourced from. Today it’s one of East Anglia’s most visited churches

16. Let’s have a look inside…

The stain glass windows are a sight to behold…

17. The light’s fading now & after a long day we’re getting hungry so it’s time to head back into town & finish this brief, but great walk. So we head back down Church Street…

Fab late afternoon sunshine

Fab late afternoon sunshine

…& now turn right down the other side of Water Street

18. There’s some interesting little places along here…for example Village Gossip

…& Sweetmeats Tea Room which is based in a 500 year old Weaver’s cottage & is a really great explore…

…& just in case your thinking…no they’re not those kind of sweetmeats!!

Well, as the light’s fading, it’s time to head back up Lady Street & Prentice Street to find where we left the car.

There’s several other properties we didn’t get time to see so here (courtesy of the www) are some pictures…

Shilling Grange

Shilling Grange

De Vere House

De Vere House

You might recognise the De Vere House above as it was the fictional birthplace of Harry Potter & formed part of Godric’s Hollow in the films, & was seen with a Christmas tree in the window, opposite a fictional graveyard. In 2018 it’s on the market if you have a spare £950,000…

So…what a beautiful little town this is. A great example of times gone by that have been lovingly preserved with over 340 listed buildings

If you’re in Suffolk we’d suggest you can do a 1 day visit along with our walk around Flatford – see this link

Go walk!


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