This Grade I listed timber-framed building in the centre of the village of Lavenham in Suffolk, has a long and rich history. Originally one of four guildhalls in this once prosperous village, the building was subsequently used as a bridewell and poorhouse, before being acquired by the National Trust in the 1950s.
The village of Lavenham in the east of England has been occupied for centuries, dating back to before the Norman invasion. The village made its mark in the Middle Ages. Granted a market charter in 1257 by Henry III, which stimulated the local economy, Lavenham soon became a focal point for traders in the thriving wool trade.
By the 1390s, the export of woollen cloth overtook that of wool, particularly a blue broadcloth known as Lavenham Blue, which was dyed with woad and exported as far afield as North Africa and Russia. The town became one of the richest in the UK and its prosperity was reflected in the magnificent Medieval buildings which were built by the wealthy merchant families.