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About Lavenham

"The most perfectly preserved of all the Suffolk cloth towns". So many guides give detailed historical and architectural details that it is sufficient to say that the 16th century Guildhall, Market Cross (dating from about 1501), Little Hall (built 1450) and church should not be missed.

The impressive Guildhall was the home to Cuthbert Quilter in the late 19th century, a local entrepreneur and MP who also owned the Pure Beer brewery at Melton. John de Vere, 13th Earl of Oxford and commander of the kings vanguard at the Battle of Bosworth (1485) also lived here. John Constable and Arthur Young were pupils at the local school. Jane Taylor, author of "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" and other rhymes lived in the village (and in Colchester). Lavenham was recorded in Domesday as "Lauen" and appears on John Speed's 1610 map as "Laneham".

By 1881 the town's long association with fine cloth making was gone with most weavers then being listed as "horse hair weavers" or "cocoa matting weavers". Today the Guildhall is in hands of the National Trust and houses a local history exhibition.

Lavenham Station (on the Long Melford to Bury St Edmunds branch line) stood near the junction of Preston Road and Bury Road. The station opened in August 1865 and closed in April 1961.

The Tourist Information Centre in Lady Street sells an interesting (and inexpensive) booklet, Lavenham's Pubs, Inns and Beer Houses, written and researched by local blue-badge guide Jim Robinson.

Built by J Laing & Co in 1943 on a site between the town and nearby Alpheton, RAF Lavenham was occupied by USAF 487th Bomb Group from April 1944 until April 1945 with B24 aircraft. During 195 missions they lost 48 aircraft to enemy action. Former Commanding Officer, Beirne Lay Jnr together with Sy Bartlett had also written a novel about an American Bomb Group based in England called "Twelve O clock High". When this was subsequently made into a film (starring Gregory Peck) by 20th Century Fox in 1949. Some of the action was filmed at the old airfield. Today the former control tower is a private residence.


Some details from "Suffolk Airfields in WW2" by Graham Smith.