Walk this Way: The Threads Trail at Lavenham
PUBLISHED: 13:19 27 January 2015 | UPDATED: 13:19 27 January 2015
From the Cock Inn car park cross the road to Tenter Piece (1). This was once an area of ground with wooden frames upon which Lavenham Blewes cloth would be stretched ‘on tenterhooks’ to dry and be shaped.
Follow the high street past The Swan Inn and turn right into Market Lane to The Market Place (2). Lavenham’s market charter was granted by Henry III in 1257. Ochre coloured Little Hall, at the far side of Market place, built in 1390, is one of the oldest timber-framed buildings in Lavenham.
The Guildhall of Corpus Christi, built around 1530 is managed by The National Trust and is one of the finest timber-framed buildings in Britain.
Walk past Little Hall into Barn Street (3). Formerly known as Hockerells Street, this street once included some of the town’s wealthiest merchants. William Jacob lived in Molet House, once a magnificent structure four times its current size. Further down the hill is the 15th century Old Grammar School, where John Constable was a pupil.
Turn right into Water Street (4), which derives its name from the open sewers that once ran along it. Water was essential for washing fleece and rinsing cloth.
Around 1500 the cloth merchants diverted the water underground, demolishing most of the buildings and building a series of brick-built culverts, which still exist. The houses running along the south of Water Street were rebuilt directly over them, a continuous row of jettied buildings.
Turn right into Lady Street (5). Lady Street has had several names – its current one comes from Our Lady’s Guild Hall that was further down the street. It became known as the Wool Hall in the 18th century and was partly demolished in the early 20th century to be shipped to America.
Outcry from village residents saved it and it is now part of The Swan Hotel. Further up is The Grove, which has at its core a fine timber framed building, thought to have been the ‘headhouse’ of Thomas Spring III, Lavenham’s richest cloth merchant and the wealthiest commoner outside London.
Return down Market Lane to the High Street, turn right and walk to the edge of town where you’ll find The Lavenham Walk. Follow The Lavenham Walk for approximately one mile before walking up the inclined path to the road. Walk over the bridge and take the footpath on your left. This path returns to Lavenham, running parallel to the railway line. You will see the church of St Peter and St Paul on the horizon.
The footpath ends on Park Road. Turn right, then left into Hall Road, and then take the footpath right behind a private garden to emerge in the grounds of the church of St Peter and St Paul (6).