We all know the famous images of small villages in England starring adorable cottages, curving roads, and the occasional sheep grazing in the meadows. Especially the Cotswolds are known for these typical English scenes. Movies like Bridget Jones’s Diary and the television adaptations of Jane Austin’s novels make you believe that the Cotswolds are the place to be. But don’t just focus on this region, as there are plenty of other areas where you can immerse yourself in romance and history.
Lavenham for example is a small town in Suffolk that we found while driving through the English countryside. We just spent an amazing day in Cambridge: one of the most famous university cities in the United Kingdom.
However, we weren’t ready to return to our campsite yet. It was April and we drove past hundreds of yellow fields of oilseed rape. Of course, I had to go out of the car to surround myself with the beautiful flowers. Later I learned that the oil that is derived from these flowers is used in the production of everyday products like oil that is used for cooking and food processing.
Afternoon tea at The Swan at Lavenham
It was already 4:30pm when we passed the ‘Lavenham’ sign. We immediately noticed that this town had to be something of interest. The houses were… different in this place. I quickly grabbed my Lonely Planet (my Travel Bible), which described Lavenham as ‘one of East-Anglia’s most beautiful and rewarding towns.’ It is also acknowledged as the best example of a medieval wool town in England.
Those kinds of descriptions definitely hold a promise! As it was quite late in the afternoon already – time flies when you’re having fun! – we decided to park the car and find a tea room for a cup of tea.
While walking through town we couldn’t stop staring at the cottages. The 300 medieval houses in Lavenham are a combination of half-timbered, targeted, and thatched. Walking around this magnificent town feels like you’ve stepped back in time. Only the cars driving through some of the streets give away that it’s the twenty-first century and not the fourteenth. Some of the houses are crooked. So crooked even that I was surprised that the facade is still standing upright.
We ended up at ‘Crooked House’ which is the most crooked house I have ever seen in my life. As you can see in the picture, the building was home to a tapestry gallery when we visited, but nowadays it houses a tea room. We found a tea room however a bit down the street and enjoyed a wonderful cuppa and scones with clotted cream at The Swan at Lavenham.
Harry Potter in Lavenham
While scrolling through these pictures, maybe some of them look familiar to you? Especially when you’ve watched the Harry Potter sequels, you must recognize some of the houses in the pictures. The village was used as the setting for the Godric’s Hollow scenes in Deathly Hallows Part 1. This was a choice that makes absolute sense. Due to its history and the unique architectural style of the buildings, the village breaths this sense of magic that is present in the Harry Potter movies as well.
We finished our tea about an hour later and headed back to the car. I could have stayed in the little town for hours and hours, to take pictures and just gaze at the impossibly crooked buildings, wouldn’t it be for the fact that it became dark and we had to head back to the campsite we stayed at. Lavenham proved to be yet another jewel that we found in East Anglia, and probably the most photogenic one at it.