Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Wool, Wizards, Nursery Rhymes and Narcotics.

Not to mention wood-carvers, antique dealers. pargetters, romantic roses
 and weathered wood. All encountered on a stroll around Lavenham.

The door of the Guildhall,
Note the elaborate carving of the wood all around the door.
There's a Museum inside dedicated to preserving Lavenham's history.

The most photographed lady in Lavenham.
Spinning has always intrigued me.
"Practice is all it takes," she assured me,
"my first effort produced yarn thick enough to haul The Queen Mary!" 

Upstairs a loom showing the range of colours available.

There were many items displayed recording the history
of the towns buildings and its people.
But wool was what made the town special.

From the upstairs room of the Guildhall
you could look out on to the Market Square.

If it looks a bit spooky maybe it's because it was the scene of
a Vincent Price film, "The Witchfinder General".
More recently that scallywag Harry Potter showed up
to film in 2010.
Also the last episode of the TV series "Lovejoy"
was filmed here. The title?
"Last Tango In Lavenham"

All these crooked buildings have led to speculation that the rhyme 
about the crooked man who lived in a crooked house has
its origins here. No real evidence for that.

However the lady who wrote "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" did live in Lavenham.
Her name was Jane Taylor and she lived in Shilling Street
during the nineteenth century.
A star is also featured strongly in the arms of the de Vere family, 
who left their mark all over the place in Lavenham,
particularly on the church.

 The decorative plaster-work on the walls in the two pictures above
is called "pargetting" and is often seen in this area especially in the nearby town of Clare.
We may well go there one day.
So if you know someone with the name Pargetter you now know 
what their ancestors got up to.

Marvellous textures in the weathered wood
 on the side of some of the buildings.

I don't see why I shouldn't show you some roses
Don't they look good against the painted plaster?

And some folks could spend a lot of time looking for bargains
in this shop.
Room after room stretched back from the narrow shopfront,
all full of antiques and curios.

See what I mean?

Meanwhile back out on the street here's The Swan Hotel.
Much loved by the ladies of The Women's Institute and 
the kind of place where you could safely take your granny.
Now in my first post about Lavenham I made a throwaway comment
wondering whether the wealth of the town was based on narcotics.
I thought I was being silly.
But believe it or not the notorious marijuana smuggler,
Howard Marks - alias Mr Nice - was 
arrested in The Swan.

Take care.


  1. I'd imagine spinning slowly become a lost craft but maybe not. That is surely a photogenic little town.

  2. More absorbing photos today. I like the way you captured the woman spinning all alone in the center of that light filled room. And, those urns need to be straightened!

  3. What a lot of wonderful treasures you are gleaning from Lavenham! I especially like the lady spinning and the loom, - I spent an hour this afternoon spinning, - not from necessity, but for pleasure, as I believe most spinning is done these days. Would this be the same de Vere family, one of whom I hear is credited by some people for being the true author of Shakespeare's writings?

    1. Yes, the benefactor of the church was John de Vere, 13th Earl of Oxford. The Shakespeare one was Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford. The seat of the Earls of Oxford was not in Oxford as you might expect but in Castle Hedingham in Essex. There were also connections with the Greviles and Howards at Castle Rising and indeed with most of the nobility of England who were an inbred lot, to say the least.
      Spinning certainly looks to be a therapeutic occupation.

  4. another very informative post; you certainly delve well into the history John. I loved the remark from the spinning lady about her first efforts; I'm sure you weren't the first she's said that to. But there she has peace to get on with a a day of meditative spinning and then going home with more fine wool to knit up. Yes I loved the vintage rose growing against the coloured plaster wall. Cheers!

  5. A very interesting tour of what must be a very fascinating place to snoop around with a camera. I would have loved that.

  6. Now that's a junk shop! I'd have been in heaven for sure. You bring such interesting information to your posts, like that about Pargeters. I have known some people with that name.

  7. The Guild Hall is a superb building and those are lovely photos of the lady spinning and the basket of harm. Is it the Guild Hall that has a little garden at the back filled with dye plants? I really must go to Lavenham again next time I'm in Suffolk.

    1. Yes, I tried to remember where all the dyes came from but failed miserably!

  8. lots of great history tidbits in this one--love the room that the lady is using for spinning--the windows and the floor boards are so beautiful--nice the way the light pours into the room
    I know nothing about spinning or weaving though, but can appreciate the skills it must take.
    The colors in the dyed yarn are lovely.


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