Quick Trip Photo Essay: Lavenham– A Crooked Little Town

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One of the defining features of my life in Europe has been being car-less most of the time. We have one vehicle, and my husband drives it to work every day. I walk Amelia to school and back, and walk into town to do my marketing and any other shopping. I like it. I am happy to walk for hours, and my life here is paced slowly enough that I don’t usually have any good reason to need to get somewhere really fast– I plan ahead and start walking in plenty of time. I am glad for the exercise, for the chance to see people face to face as I make my way through the streets. Do I get tired of lugging around bags and my dragging home an overflowing market trolley? Why, yes! But that’s OK– this is precisely the sort of thing my body was made to do, whether it is easier or not.
Anyway, despite all this, I often miss being able to get out of town. Bury St. Edmunds is very small. It’s sweet, but limited. About once a month, Jeff arranges for someone to carpool to work and back, and I have the use of our car between 9:30 and 3:00. Not enough time to get TOO far away, but there are so many fascinating places nearby. I love driving on the little country roads all by myself, taking in all of the beautiful views. And what I really love is being able to walk around at my own pace with my camera– with no one waiting for me to take my 10th (OK, 20th!) picture of the same building.
I am hoping to be able to share regularly from my quick solo road trips. (That means I have to take them!)  This first one is from a medieval village town called Lavenham that is just about 20 minutes away from Bury. That is, unless they close all of the roads leading there for some sort of repairs all at the same time and you can’t find a way home to save your life, and it actually takes you over two hours to get out of there. But you still get back home just in time to pick your kid up from school. Otherwise, it’s just 15 miles away. I’ll let the pictures do the rest of the talking.

Lavenham’s main distinguishing feature is the crooked timber framed houses. I love the ornate details in these, especially the herringbone brick patterns. As you can see, these homes are for wealthy owners– in the middle ages, Lavenham became very rich from their wool trade, and was one of the 10 wealthiest settlements in England. (Thanks, Wikipedia!)

 Look at those gorgeous leaded windows.


And ornate wooden doors.


 This one reminds me of a seersucker summer suit.

 Wondering how much one of these old houses would cost? Almost .75 million USD!





Here’s the last home I saw as I got into my car. Inside the carport was parked a brand new porsche– such a perfect juxtaposition of old and new wealth!

I hope you enjoyed this little tour. Next, I’ll take you around Lavenham’s famous little church!

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24 Responses to Quick Trip Photo Essay: Lavenham– A Crooked Little Town

  1. Great Scott April 6, 2012 at 6:21 pm #

    Oh I am so proud of you and so jealous that you take solo travel journeys. I just worked up the courage to ride a bike – so I’m quite a ways off from driving! haha! Anyway, love the idea of you posting these journeys regularly. And how crazy are those houses?! I agree – the white and beige one reminded me of a seersucker suit too. And how about that sherbert orange house? WOW that is a LOT brighter than most paint choices in England! 🙂 So loved this…

    • Ariana April 7, 2012 at 6:59 am #

      Thanks Sarah! At first, I was kind of freaked out about the tiny winding roads and the near-misses with cars just whipping around them. But I’m pretty used to it now, and driving out here in the country is like balm for my soul. So wonderful. And yes, that orange one really surprised me! I think it was newly painted, because we have visited Lavenham before, and I know I would have remembered it!

  2. Kristen April 6, 2012 at 7:00 pm #

    Oh my gosh, I SO enjoyed this post! Great pictures and what gorgeous medieval houses! I wish I could see them in person. And people live in these houses? I can’t imagine what the interiors look like. I’ve definitely got to see Lavenham on my next trip to England. I’m looking forward to your next post. Thanks for sharing. 🙂


    • Ariana April 7, 2012 at 7:02 am #

      Kristen, I’m so glad you enjoyed coming along! It really is interesting to me that people do live in these houses, hundreds of years later. Clearly, they are extremely sturdy, even if they are leaning! Get in touch if you come to the area– it would be fun to go with another lady!

  3. Felicity April 6, 2012 at 10:28 pm #

    This truly puts a new spin on the phrase ‘standing the test of time’.
    I’d love to have a peek inside some of these structures and imagine that rolling a marble from one end to the other would be fun thing to do.

    Happy day!

    • Melissa April 7, 2012 at 3:59 am #

      I lived in a crooked house growing up (nothing like these shown here!) Besides for rolling marbles in the slanted kitchen, we also learned to position our plates so the runny things like ketchup and gravy were at the lower end 🙂

      Beautiful pictures! I’m envious of your solo journeys!

    • Ariana April 7, 2012 at 7:04 am #

      Hi Felicity. Yes– I do really wonder what it is like on the insides. One thing I did note is that the ceilings are quite low. People were much smaller (shorter) back when these were built. I don’t know if you can tell from the pictures, but the doors are quite short!

    • Ariana April 7, 2012 at 7:05 am #

      Melissa– that is really funny about having to turn your plates to keep runny foods contained! I’m looking forward to reading about life in Brazil. Take care!

  4. Ed April 7, 2012 at 6:28 am #

    Thanks for the tour! That was great fun… From what you could see, how comfy would those houses really be to live in? Endurable, or really nice?

    • Ariana April 7, 2012 at 7:08 am #

      Dad, we did really look into a somewhat similar home in another village. It was timber framed like this, with a thatched roof. It was really, really cool, but the ceilings were low and it was dark inside. I didn’t know if painting it (including all of the exposed beams) white would do enough to brighten/ lighten things up, and so I thought it would be too depressing for me, even if it was adorable. One of Jeff’s co-workers lives in a house kind of like that, and it’s really cute on the inside– but yes, low ceilings. I imagine that there are really cool fireplaces and neat architectural details throughout– I doubt that they have been renovated.

  5. Hitchhiker42 April 7, 2012 at 12:43 pm #

    That’s really cool. I love how Europe has so many old buildings left standing. Americans think anything 200 years old is “really old” but then they get blown away on their first trip to Europe when they see a real medieval village. I stayed in a German hotel built in 1540 with sloped floors and an oddly angled window in my room. It was lovely! The wall tapestry outside my room was over 300 years old and probably should have been in a museum, but to them it was just an old decoration. Travelling is so good for us. It’s good to change your perspective once in a while.

    • Ariana April 8, 2012 at 4:51 pm #

      Hi Hichhiker42! Yes, “old” has taken on a completely new meaning for me! We like to shop for an antiques at a thatch-roofed barn nearby, which the owner likes to remind me was built around the time Columbus set sail…
      And my friends in Germany liked to tease me because I like “old things.” They live with so much ancient history, I think it has less value in their eyes.

  6. Anonymous April 7, 2012 at 1:24 pm #

    what great photos… It’s the English mini-Pisa 🙂 I have
    never seen a town of sloping buildings in all my travels..
    What a fun place to explore! I wonder how the tables look
    inside…. they must eat on one end!
    I can relate to the walking life– I am doing the same this
    year in my town too. I’m always happy to jump on a train and
    go exploring. Happy travels!

    • Ariana April 8, 2012 at 4:53 pm #

      Hi Anna, I also wonder about the tables, and the beds! How do pictures hang on the walls? But I am so glad that they are lived in, kept up and deeply valued– what a treasure!

  7. Ann April 8, 2012 at 3:37 am #

    Visiting from NaBloPoMo.

    Love the photo tour – get’s my imagination going – would love to see inside!

    Hope it’s okay – going to pin the herringbone house : )

    • Ariana April 8, 2012 at 4:53 pm #

      Hi Ann, thanks for the visit!
      Totally OK to pin, I’m glad you like the pictures!

  8. Deborah Bowden April 8, 2012 at 3:49 am #

    Thanks for taking me on a trip down memory lane. We visited Lavenham when I was about 7. We lived in Feltwell so Bury was the big city to us!!

    • Ariana April 8, 2012 at 4:55 pm #

      Hi Deborah, we were actually considering a very old home similar to this in Feltwell! Such a nice village, and the house was so charming with its timber frame and thatched roof. I wonder how much smaller Bury was when you used to visit here!

  9. Deborah Bowden April 8, 2012 at 8:20 pm #

    Well we lived in Feltwell for about 4 years – from when I was 5 until about 9. We lived right across the street from the base, where the base school was but I attended the school in town. We used to take the bus in to Bury to go to the skating rink and once to the movies. That was 25+ years ago so it was much smaller then I’m sure! I’m so happy I found your blog through Pinterest! I miss home.

  10. Kris April 9, 2012 at 8:37 pm #

    What an amazing place! Just beautiful! Timber frame houses are my absolute favorite of the old English style.

  11. Beth September 7, 2013 at 4:39 pm #

    Oh my! Those homes are so beautiful. I need to get braver about taking mini solo trips like that – I think it would be good for my soul! Looking forward to seeing more pictures as you go along.


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