Bucket list experience:
Medieval village of Lavenham
Lavenham, Suffolk, United Kingdom (UK)|www.nationaltrust.org.uk
The most complete example of a medieval ‘wool town’ (named after the production of wool that gave the town its wealth) in England, Lavenham’s picturesque high street is lined with half-timbered buildings dating back over 500 years, now housing art galleries, boutiques and coffee shops. There are over 300 listed buildings in the town.
Once you’ve soaked up the history, it’s perfectly possible to spend a whole day just pottering along the High Street, and neighbouring Water and Market Streets, with plenty of stops for photographs of some of the wonkiest buildings in England.
The National Trust-owned Guildhall is one of the most complete medieval buildings in the country, and Lavenham’s most famous landmark.
De Vere House on Water Street is one of the wonkiest buildings in Britain, and familiar to Harry Potter movie fans as the birthplace of the boy wizard.
While you’re there
The Swan at Lavenham is the town’s renowned gastropub and hotel. Drop in for afternoon tea in one of the 15th-century lounges – just make sure not to have lunch first.
Also stop by Lavenham Contemporary, a small gallery showcasing the works of local artist Paul Evans, famous for his intricate countryside scenes, and complimentary artists.
Getting there & doing it
Lavenham is around 2 hours and 45 minutes’ drive from London. To arrive by public transport, trains from Liverpool Street run to Colchester or Sudbury, from where it’s around a half-hour ride by bus.
Guided walking tours run on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays (Wednesdays only on winter months); booking isn’t necessary. Timings and more details can be found on the town’s visitor website.
The best place to start your exploration is the Grade I listed Guildhall, one of the finest medieval buildings in England. Owned by the National Trust, it’s a good way to get an overview of the history of the town.
The Guildhall sits on the cobbled marketplace; from here it’s a short walk along Market Street to the shops and galleries on the High Street.
When to do it
Lavenham is lovely all year round, but it does get busy in the summer months. December, when the town is lit with Christmas lights and all the shops and cafes are decorated, is a lovely time to visit, and a great way to find original Christmas gifts.
Some of the shops don’t open on Sundays, so if you want to browse, this is the day to avoid.