• LOCATION 10 | Lavenham: A Walk on the Medieval Side

    Water Street Junction

    Stop here by the bus stop and stand so that you can see the side wall of the Swan in Water Street.

    Just don’t put your arm out to any passing bus and you will be fine. You are standing where the High Street meets Water Street and Church Street.

    We can see the High Street going up to our left and the Church St leads up to the church on our right, but where is the water for Water Street?

    The small stream we saw running down under the bridge at the hall is now underneath you. It was completely covered over by the buildings that we can see today. Lets finds out more about what was going on here. The woollen yarn was washed and dried up the hill on the tenter hooks.

    Now look down Water street.

    The yarn was then dispersed to the various weavers in Lavenham and across the villages of Suffolk to be woven into cloth. In each process the wool, or the yarn, or the cloth needed washing. Water St was already a supply of running water. Just to make sure of their supply each business down the street created a tank to hold water for their business. They then built their premises over the water supply.

    On the outside of the Swan there is some typically East Anglia decorative plaster work call pargetting. The pargetting is a powerful link to the woollen cloth trade.

    Look at the designs and you might just make out a fleur de lys and the Crozier that sits on the bishops head.

    Both are probably modern but would have been copies of older pargetting seen nearby. The fleur de lys most likely is linked to foreign weavers that came to Lavenham to produce the new lighter woollen textiles. The crozier could be a link to St Blaise, patron saint of wool combers. He had been martyred after being torn to pieces with a wool comb used to tease out the strand of wool to make yarn!

    Now, carefully cross over and make your way along Water Street, keeping to the right hand side of the street. I will catch up with you at the junction with Lady Street. 

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Lavenham: A Walk on the Medieval Side