Sunday, May 24, 2009

Lavenham - Suffolk

The Guild Hall

The Swan Hotel

This week has been one of visiting places, mills, rivers, a Cistercian abbey and now Lavenham medieval town in Suffolk, said to be the most perfectly preserved medieval town in England. But first, one small memory that was funny.
The starlings have been producing their young, fledglings balance on fences, trees and rooftops. But the other day as I sat in the garden and watched a small flock eat the bread, six little ones decided to have a bath all by themselves, they perched round the shallow bowl, three little ones with their claws tight on the rim whilst two splashed about in the water, a small one running back and forward too scared to jump up. Harassing their parents for food, they will all soon be grown, two flew up to the fence, one promptly falling over the other side, he immediately flew back looking slightly puzzled.
Back to Suffolk and a fifty mile drive through the countryside. Its weird how England changes with the counties, Essex is redbrick and plaster/timber houses, Suffolk has a cream/brown brick which to be honest I don't like, but the houses are again plaster/timber. There is a different feel to the towns one passes through and Lavenham though beautiful left me with a slight feeling of unease. I think it has something to do with the present situation in the country, as the greed is revealed. LS summed it up perfectly when he said that Lavenham is like an extinct mammoth, it got taken out of the system of being rich so quickly that it was preserved in its present state, there had been no money to redo it in the following centuries.
It is classic medieval, Shakespearean but without the smells and carts rumbling through the streets. The rich swishing around in funny hats and ermine decked cloaks, the poor in their dirty brown sackcloth. It is a place of tourism, small gift shops, and a rather nice tapestry shop (expensive) and places to eat, with the magnificent Swan Hotel hosting a wedding party this day.The market place was extraordinary, dominated by the great Guild hall, traditionally limewashed to protect it from the ravages of the weather. The National Trust do this every five years.
Houses lean crookedly one way or another, their neighbours holding them up,painted all the colours of the rainbow but in a much deeper hue, there is orange and pink, but the grey white is perhaps the softest on the eye. De Vere house (history not checked yet) but I think he is the leading dignitary of this time, was a glorious marriage of dark intricate timber, and the dark rose pink of the zig-zagged brick infill.

Market Square

A very beautiful town with lots of quaint buildings, wealth built on wool, and of course the labouring class backs.
Coffee at a small B&B cottage, front room was the cafe bit with a tiny, kitchen in the corner, and a vast menu of various sandwiches, toasted and plain, with jacket potatoes, etc. What was so funny was the very warm helpful, quite elderly couple who ran it, getting into a muddle with all the orders, eventually everthing was toasted to order and extra free coffees for those who had been waiting. The piece de resistance is when they opened the door leading into the house and their dog came out to greet everyone in a friendly manner. But the cat came out too, a great Bagpuss of a tabby stalked around and refused to go back when she was lifted, clinging to a chair with a certain amount of outrage.

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