Whenever I visit Lavenham, I always have to break it down into its constituent parts. This little village has a mighty punch. What I love about this place is that it isn't full of touristy shops. People just come here to participate in the ambience of the place. It can be a little overwhelming during the high season - but if you visit first thing - you might just have the place all to yourself.
Lavenham was one of the wealthiest medieval towns in England. It's wealth came from wool, and its church is one of the most iconic of 'wool churches' in the area, in spite of the cobwebs.
People rarely talk of how places are revealed and concealed during movement. The path to St. Peter and St. Paul is dotted with neatly clipped yews and the mere act of walking lifts the church above the yew-line like a majestic swan. The movie-maker in me walks it a few times for effect.
St. Peter and St. Paul
The church is a wonderful example of C15th-C16th perpendicular architecture and, in the early morning light, presents itself like a richly inlaid jewellery box.
Most of all, I'm drawn to the wood. The C15th choir stalls have some wonderful finial carvings - although some of them haven't survived iconoclastic times.
The misericords are beautifully carved. They have a softness of line that is really engaging. The artist that carved these had a genius for spatial awareness - thinking through the design in three dimensions, envisioning the vignette, and drawing it out of the wood with tools that haven't changed to this very day.
The misericords have three roles. Firstly as a seat for the choristor and then (after lifting) as a support whilst standing. Finally they have a didactic role through the symbolism behind the carvings. Many are inspired by the Bestiaries of the day.
The early C16th parclose screen was built to enclose 'rich clothier' Thomas Spring's tomb. It's a triumph of carpentry, lavishly made whilst the tower was being completed (funded by Thomas Spring's money). All of this wouldn't be here if it were not for the humble sheep.
The Buildings and Streetscapes.
The Crooked House
Originating in the C15th and so delightful I could eat it. Love the jaunty angles - as if the building is trying to 'right' itself - and, of course, it is: timber framing is sacrificial to ground movement beneath.
The Old Wool Hall
If I were able to spend some time away from the van - I'd love to stay here. Originating in the C15th. It was originally the hall of Our Lady's Guild and then converted to a Wool Hall in the C17th.
De Vere House
Another C15th delight with oriel windows and herringbone brick nogging.
I do prefer a brick nogg to an eggnog.
A C15th former Wool Hall on Market Place with tart colour and delightful details. Open to the public.
Once the hall of the Guild of Corpus Christi, founded in 1529. It has a delightful two storey gabled porch and is open to the public. This is perhaps the most decorated building in the village.
Lavenham has, perhaps, the most varied wallscape in the country. Caught in the right light they sing with pattern and texture. Just looking at this wall on Barn Street in Lavenham lowers my heart rate. Can't quite explain why the combination of texture, colour, and materials seems to impact the senses so much.
The walls tie the buildings together, or are sentinels to ancient walkways and rights of way.
They incorporate and embellish the buildings around them.
And replicate the pattern of timber on the surrounding buildings.
They are narrataives in brick, flint and stone and hold some quirky archeology.
Beyond the wall is a biota of living things...
..and both physical and spiritual.
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Photographs and words by Andy Marshall (unless otherwise stated). Most photographs are taken with Iphone 14 Pro and DJI Mini 3 Pro.