Tour Locations | Lavenham: A Walk on the Medieval Side
LOCATION 19 | Lavenham: A Walk on the Medieval Side
Let's stop here at the cross. It tells us that this was the centre of the area granted to Lavenham in a charter from Henry 3rd for its market in 1257. Not so much a cross as a stump.
In 1501, William Jacob, a clothier, left money to build the impressive stone cross in Lavenham Market Place, asking that it should look like the one at Cambridge. Sadly the Cambridge cross no longer remains. The Market cross was where bargains were settled, promises were made and was a focal point for any gatherings.
If the Market place is the crowning glory of the most complete medieval town in England then the jewels in the Crown must be the Angel, the Little Hall and the Guildhall. The other buildings are also little gems but if we are not careful we will not have time to see the rest of Lavenham. You can just stand by the cross to see these or feel free to move closer for a better look.
Look across the road slightly to the right for the grand sign in front of the Angel.
It was built in 1527 as a private house and owned by the Sexten family. They were a family of wealthy cloth merchants. One of the family, Aleyn Sexten, left £40 for a church's steeple for the church. I will leave you to estimate how much it would cost to put a steeple on top of the church tower today! In recent years the Angel was owned by celebrity chief, Marco Pierre White.
Now look to your right and you will see the Great Hall and the Little Hall.
If you look at it from the front then the earliest part is on the left, dating back to 1400.
Check the times but the Suffolk Preservation Society do open this building to the public and it does provide some extremely knowledgeable guides to help you see this building in all its glory.
It was first built in the 14th century as a family house and workplace. Then in the 16th century it was enlarged, improved, modernised and extended. By the 1700s the wool trade had left and it was then altered to give separate homes to six families. It was restored in the early 20th century. The restaurant next door, The Great Hall, was once part of the same building.
Now turn right and continue around the market place.