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A stroll through Lavenham

My notes from July 25, 2007:
"Today, we drove to Lavenham and Bury St Edmunds. Oh my, those crooked medieval houses in Lavenham really are everything they're cracked up to be! How funny to see them all higgledy piggledy leaning this way and that, cantelevered out over the road even. We toured the Guildhall and learned about the town's history and the wool trade."

Per wikipedia: Lavenham is a village and civil parish in Suffolk, England. It is 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. We spent a few hours there one day when the girls and I were in England visiting my father.

Here are some photos I took of this funky old town...

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This next photo is the Guildhall of Corpus Christi, where "you can follow the changing fortunes of Lavenham through exhibits on the local cloth industry, farming and agriculture":

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After touring the Guildhall, we walked up the hill to the church, stopping along the side of a pathway overlooking a little pond for a picnic:

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After our refreshment, we wandered to the top of the hill to see Lavenham's Church of St Peter and St Paul. I have read that it "is probably the last of the great Suffolk 'wool churches' to have been completed by 1530 just before the reformation." Its tower is 141 feet tall, apparently making it the tallest village church in England.

According to BBC: "The 15th-century Peter and Paul Church, Lavenham, is one of the best-known churches in Suffolk. The use of straight lines and perfect right-angles was particularly striking for its time, when even grand, timber-framed houses where somewhat lopsided."

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The author of this site clearly was not a fan of the stained glass windows in the Lady chapel: "And today, St Peter and St Paul is a splendid church. It has not been untouched; witness some of the most hideous, most truly awful 19th century stained glass windows in the otherwise lovely Lady chapel. The hand of the Victorians fell heavily here."

Yes, it is very ornate and all, but still...the colours were striking with the light blazing through!

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According to wikipedia: "The church contains five 15th century misericords featuring imagery such as composite creatures; one, half-woman, half beast playing a viol, and another, half-man with the hindquarters and tail of a beast, mimicking her by playing a pair of bellows with a crutch." Which I assume is this very image I happened to photograph:

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The 14th century font:

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And finally...a view of the nave. Moira is walking up the aisle to meet Sara at the far end. I think the ugly metal bars near the bottom of the photo are the barriers blocking off the intrusive giftshop from the rest of the church:

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If you are interested in the architecture of this magnificent church, you might want to check out this website.

Comments (7)

Lavenham is pure Dickensville! I loved the smaller towns in England. We stayed in Thames Dutton - love the name.

Anne:

menehune, I loved the cute town names, too. Bury St Edmunds struck my fancy, and Sara's too. We were determined to see it just because of the name, although it is worth a visit for other reasons too, as it turned out! But Lavenham was unlike anything I've seen, Dickensville is a good description.

Kathy (Trekcapri):

Hi Anne, I enjoyed reading about more of your trip to England. Lavenham looks really quaint. And how interesting that all the houses have these vertical stripes on them. The church is also interesting. One of your photos reminded me of my experience in Scotland. I found that many of the churches had graveyards right next to them on the same grounds. It made photographing them a challenge for me. It's so interesting.

Thanks so much for sharing some of your photos and experiences from your trip to England.

sandrac:

What a lovely, quaint, lop-sided town! And the church really is magnificent!

Anne:

Thanks Kathy, I think there's a name for that style of architecture (with the lines) but I can't remember it. Interesting comment about the church grounds - is it not commonplace in the States for churches to have adjoining graveyards? (Most do in Nova Scotia, although my own does not, which is ok since I plan to be cremated so have no need of a burial plot!)

Sandra, I was gob-smacked (to steal your phrase!) at all the huge stone churches and cathedrals. Not that all were this size, of course, but still every little village in England seemed to have its own stone church. Tis a marvellous country for a church geek like me to tour! lol

Barb Cabot:

Love this description:
"all higgledy piggledy". The photos are great, the buildings like something out of a Disney movie (an animated one). It must have been a great trip. thanks Anne.

This is a very cool town (of course I probably wouldn't think so if one of the houses was mine). They must be sturdy though since they are probably pretty old by now. Great photos!! Love the church!

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