Let’s face it – beautiful English villages are loved by everyone.
And a popular reason for many tourists to visit the UK is to discover the stunning towns, villages and even cities that are dotted with historic buildings and quaint little streets and lanes.
From Edinburgh to Stratford-Upon-Avon, and even down to little coastal towns in Devon and Cornwall, there is an abundance of historic beauty, no matter where you go.
But what if you really do fancy stepping back in time, and visiting a medieval village that remains largely like it was over 500 years ago?
Welcome to Lavenham
The beautiful English village of Lavenham is surrounded by pretty countryside in the county of Suffolk, and is one of the best preserved medieval villages in Britain.
From the moment you arrive, you can’t help feel like you’ve perhaps dived into a time machine and been transported back to a village trapped in a time warp – every other property is at least a few hundred years old, with some over 500 years and still standing.
They vary in different colours, shapes and sizes. Many are thatched, others leaning over and plenty have those stunning traditional wood beams.
In fact there are over 300 houses that have been ‘listed’ as being of architectural and historical importance.
And there’s no better way to explore this unique spot in Britain than on foot.
What’s there to see?
The quaint little village of Lavenham grew up around the wool trade in the 15th and 16th century, where it’s fortunes soared.
Sadly it’s been through some hard times too, especially when the industry collapsed, but the village itself has stood the test of time and now welcomes thousands of visitors every year.
Here you will find crooked, timber framed houses by the barrel-full – in fact head to the High Street and every other house appears to be competing in the rustic-stakes.
Little lanes snake off the main road and there are even more gems as you walk along.
In fact, the medieval street pattern still exists to this very day, so you will be walking the same roads as those who lived here 400 years ago.
Some of the most beautiful properties are those in or close to the village centre – the eye-catching guildhall is now being run by the National Trust and is well worth a visit and the little row of shops could feature in a Victorian TV drama.
Discover a few of the best sites in Lavenham!
The guildhall is one of the most beautiful properties in Lavenham. Situated in the centre, it’s now managed by the National Trust.
Each room is now dedicated to the history of the village, and its residents, and is a fascinating look back at the rise and fall of this rather special place.
The guildhall itself has a rather varied history – built in 1530, it originally was a religious meeting place, but has also been used as a prison, workhouse and even a pub.
Make sure to add the guildhall to your itinerary.
Top Tip: Check out the stunning courtyard garden, and cute little cafe, perfect for a pick-me-up!
Step outside of the guildhall and have a walk around the beautiful market square – home to a little row of quaint shops, a top-notch restaurant and an estate agent, alongside the adorable homes and ‘Little Hall’, a 14th-century house.
The beautiful little row of shops is as cute and quaint as it gets… if you didn’t know better you’d genuinely think you had been transported back 100 years.
Explore the boutiques and village shop, as well as paying a visit to the local estate agent in the middle of the square…in case you’re tempted to buy in the area!
Little Hall is open to the public and you can discover what life was like in the 14th century living in Lavenham.
Used as a workhouse, and then extended and then used as a home to house six families, this place is one of the most beautiful houses in Lavenham.
The main road running through Lavenham is the high street.
Home to a mixture of independent shops, restaurants, cafes and tea rooms, you’ll find all sorts on this beautiful unconventional high street.
One of the most beautiful buildings on the High Street is The Swan, a huge hotel and spa.
Beautiful on the inside as well as the outside, this medieval timber building is like a maze – and well worth stopping to take a look even just for an afternoon tea, some lunch, a spa treatment or even just a coffee.
People travel from far and wide to experience the great food and unique accommodation. In fact, Lavenham is the perfect place for a girly spa break!
Don’t forget to go hunting for quirky buildings! This one on the high street is a particular favourite.
There are plenty of beautiful streets to explore – one of my particular favourites is Lady Street – explore the back of The Swan and the cute little homes that lead up to the market square.
If you’re after something completely unusual then Lavenham is the place for you.
It’s so unique and strolling around the quiet streets makes you really question whether it’s real or not!
Summer is the most popular time to visit, and when the tourists tend to descend on the village, so autumn is one of the best times to pay it a visit.
There are some really lovely places to stay in and around Lavenham.
But if you fancy staying somewhere a little more unusual – the incredibly beautiful Market Keepers Cottage, in the centre of Lavenham, is now available for short term holiday lets.
How to get there
Lavenham is in Suffolk, England.
It’s a 2 hour journey from London, and is accessible by car or train. The nearest town is Bury St Edmunds.
If you’re going to travel by train, change at Bury St Edmunds and get a taxi or bus to Lavenham.