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November, 2021

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“Lavenham”: is one of Britain’s best-preserved medieval village and one of Suffolk’s most important woollen towns. Over 300 timber framed buildings line the narrow streets and lanes leading to the impressive marketplace. At one point it was the 14th richest town in Tudor England thanks to its famous Lavenham Blue broadcloth which explains why the “Church of St Peter and St Paul’s”: is so large.

On arrival, we headed for the “Village Information Point”:
(closed Wednesday) which doubles as the village post office. It’s a good starting point for any visit, as the lady was incredibly helpful and there are so many leaflets on things to do and books about the history of the village.

The buildings are incredible, and many looked as though a good gust of wind would blow them down. As we were staying at “The Swan Hotel”:, we got a taste of what they would be like to live in: with low beams and doorways, uneven, creaking floors, walls that bowed and windows below head height.

As we were staying for two nights, we had plenty of time to spare after checking out the houses and browsing in the small shops – I was slightly surprised by how few outlets there were. So on our full day, we put on our hiking boots and walked from Lavenham along the old disused railway line to Long Melford (4.5 miles) where we popped into Holy Trinity Church. Unfortunately it’s not a circular route and rather than trying to negotiate a bus or taxi back, we refreshed ourselves in “The Bull Hotel”:, and walked back, taking a slightly different route (we’d bought a great map in the Village Information Point). In December, it was rather muddy and wet in some places and hiking boots were essential, but the views and the variety of scenery more than made up for it.

Our walk back took us down a lane where a sign pointed to “Commonwealth War Graves”: and we detoured off to explore. Unfortunately what we later discovered were six graves, weren’t immediately visible and as we’d been caught in a hailstorm and were wet and soggy, we didn’t linger too long. However, we did have a quick look into the small “Cemetery Chapel”: built in 1893, which following various donations had been refurbished by the Parish Council in 2018 to mark the centenary of the end of The Great War.

Fortunately after our walk and soaking, I’d booked a massage in the “Weavers’ House Spa”: Although it’s part of The Swan Hotel, it’s open to non-residents. Laid out on a heated waterbed whilst being massaged with warm oils was just the tickets for weary legs. They encourage both a pre-treatment and post treatment relaxation in lounge areas where I enjoyed a smoothie before and afterwards, a shot of sorbet, herbal tea and a macaroon. They have a varied range of treatments and an excellent shop if you need girlie gifts.

Although the iconic “Guildhall”: is only open in Winter from Thursday to Sunday, we fited in a visit before we left. One thing we didn’t manage to see was the sculpture garden nearby the church was the “Lavenham Hall Gallery and Sculpture Garden”: which could be visited by prior appointment.

In terms of eating, we had dinner both at the inhouse restaurant, “The Gallery”:, and also at “The Cockhorse Inn”: We also had a simple sandwich lunch at “The Angel Hotel”: and drinks at the “Lavenham Greyhound”: which offers a tapas-style menu.

We chose to visit at the end of November, when we had the benefit of Christmas lights and decorations and log fires in the Swan, but before it got too busy. Bearing in mind it’s a relatively small village with narrow roads, I’d hate to visit in the height of summer.

Helen Jackson

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