One of the things planned for my England trip was a day out in Lavenham. I am little obsessed with historical sites, I think that’s clear. I’d not heard about this place until my Dad mentioned taking me there. He himself is a little obsessed with history and…conspiracy theories but that’s another story.
We arrive in this Suffolk town around lunchtime and we find ourselves in the middle ages. Here is one of the wealthiest towns of medieval times. The crooked half-timbered houses are still lived in and the whole town has been wonderfully preserved.
We head toward the market square where the Horror fans among you will recognise the scenery from the film ‘The Witchfinder General’. A lot of the movie was filmed here and the square is instantly recognisable in the scene where they burn ‘’Elizabeth’’ an alleged witch (I hated that film by the way). It has also provided background scenery to a certain Mister Potter and his magical chums and is indeed the perfect setting for anything mystical.
We were hoping to explore The Guildhall of Corpus Christi and the Lower Hall but both of them are closed. It is a Wednesday in February and opening times, according to the notices, are on weekends until March. Externally, the Guildhall is much as you would expect, but Lower Hall is a bit of an eyesore if I am honest as, for some reason it is painted bright orange?
The weather is cloudy and the wind is biting so we opt for a browse around a small shop that is filled with an interesting mix of old and new. Plaques, pottery, brass and pictures sit among Egyptian Goddesses & Tribal Statues. I understand the need to diversify to attract customers but I don’t like to see such a hotchpotch, it changes the feel of the shop from local and twee village to commercial and uncaring.
Now peckish we go in search of food. There are plenty of small eateries around; cosy looking pubs, crooked little tearooms and small gift shops that double up as cafes. We opt for ‘Tickled Pink’ because the sign outside says ‘our door is closed because we are keeping the inside warm for you’ or, words to that effect. Clever advertising on such a cold day!
There are just three tables inside but stairs to one side lead up to another two dining rooms. It’s small, pleasant and quirky. We eat Jacket potatoes which come with a side salad and I drink filtered coffee while Dad opts for tea. A trip to the loo proves interesting in this medieval building as there is a timber pole to manoever before you can actually go about your business. None of this was a problem for me but Dad is waiting for a knee replacement so, perhaps not the best of places for anyone not fully able. I have since seen the reviews on trip advisor…ouch, they are not very good. I can only say, we didn’t wait long for our food or drinks, both were fine and the staff were pleasant enough.
Sated from lunch we wander along to the antique shop and a tinkling bell announces our entrance. We are met with a wall of cabinets gleaming with second hand treasure. I gaze happily at Emeralds and Ruby rings, pearl drop earrings and marquisate broaches as I wind my way around the rows of cabinets to a passage at the back. This leads into a cave of treasures where I can touch! Wooden carvings, fur coats, mother of pearl inlay, bone, gilt and ivory and all manner of antique and collectibles on display. I am working my way toward the large table in the center of the room that is filled with ceramic when, there is a noise, a smash, the unmistakeable sound of breaking china. Everybody freezes and looks around to see who the culprit is and then we all look down, hoping there is nothing to find at our feet.
In-front of me to the left is my Dad, nowhere near the table and in the clear – phew! Around the table are a couple and their child, a boy around 11 years old. The mother holds onto his shoulders, denial in her eyes. The boy looks relaxed and totally uninterested, as only children can. Close to them, at the corner of the table stands a mature woman, red coat unbuttoned, black bag slung over her shoulder. She looks like a startled rabbit and is the first to break the silence.
‘Was it me? – did I do that?……….It’s fine, if it was me, I’ll pay for it…….was it my coat?…….If I broke it then I’ll pay for it………was it me?’’
At that, everyone else remembers to breathe.
We carry on mooching as she goes in search of someone to confess to. The shop continues through the back; room after room of the interesting and the mundane, the quirky and the kitsch, the novel and the novelty, the ‘omg’ price and the ‘gosh is that all’.
After an hour or so of browsing, we head back to the car, passing a gnarled and twisted tree that is clinging to one of the houses. I point it out to Dad, a keen Gardener and Runner Bean champion.
”It probably has a climbing flower on it in summer” he says.
”What, like Chlamydia’ I say……
Then I think about it, then I look over at him to see if he has heard me correctly, then I see his eyebrows pull together in a frown as he asses that and then I burst out laughing.
Of course I had meant to say Clematis – quite a faux pas that one!
That quickly forgotten we get back into the car and head for The Church of St Peter and St Paul. Although I am not religious, I do have a thing for Churches and Graveyards!
‘Impressive’ is the word I’d use for this church and, ‘church’ is not enough of a word either. I’d say this was a Cathedral humbly posing as a church.
This magnificent structure was built after the battle of Bosworth in 1485. It features stunning Gothic Architecture and lay’s claim to the title of highest church tower in Britain. It has wonderful history but, I’m not here to tell you about that, I’m not a historian, just a humble blogger taking you on a journey through my eyes. If you are interested in learning more about the history, you can find information here: The Church of St Peter & St Paul
The grounds are beautifully kept. The gravestones, crosses and tombs are covered in lichen and for the most part, unreadable. The ones we can make out date from the 1700’s.
Everything about this site is a feast for the eyes. The graveyard, the topiary, the tower, the carvings and the leaded windows but, this is nothing compared to the inside.
It is quite simply breath-taking. Under Gothic arches and vaulted ceilings the stained glass windows play out biblical scenes in the brightest of color. They are exquisite.
As you wander there are symbols everywhere; carvings depicting both pagan and christian belief. There are roses, stars, Ivy, wheatsheaf and herons and not forgetting the Green Man who glances down at you from many corners.
I could rave on and on about the church but I think, it will say more in photos so, I’ll leave you with some of them 🙂
NB: I do actually follow a blogger called Denis Awbrey, a photographer who travels around Europe taking photos of religious architecture. He knows a lot more about them than I do and his photos are stunning. If this is something you too are interested in then hop over to Via Lucas for a browse: http://vialucispress.wordpress.com/