Lavenham Guildhall

The Guildhall of Corpus Christi (NT) Market Place

Set in the picturesque Market Place is the Guildhall of Corpus Christi, built in 1529 by a wealthy religious guild, this building is one of the loveliest timber-framed buildings in the country. Inside you can learn all about the people, industries and events that have shaped this village throughout time.

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The exhibitions have been cleverly created using the eyes and voices of those who worked, lived and were imprisoned here. Their stories will surprise and shock you.

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Reading through the reports of these people was sobering. And you could almost feel the ghosts whispering around you.

The Bridewell Rules
It is ordered that every strong and sturdy rogue at his or her first entrance into the said house shall have twelve stripes upon his bare skin with the said whip

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Life was hard if you were poor. And even harder if you were orphaned.

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Among the real life stories featured in the exhibition is the tale of Ann Baker, who was imprisoned in the Guildhall when it was used as a prison in the 1780’s. Aged just 8-years-old, Ann was whipped and kept locked inside with others who had fallen foul of the sometimes harsh laws of the time. She was later sentenced to seven years transportation to Australia, then a penal colony, for being ‘an incorrigible rogue’. She died at just 29.

I could have spent a long time looking through the records, but I moved on to the rest of the museum. And outside to the courtyard Dye Garden where the beds are planted with dye plants including woad which was used to make Lavenham’s famous blue cloth.

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And at the back of the building is the Cemetery Chapel Bell which was moved from the chapel turret in 1979 for fear of the structure collapsing. The Lavenham bell is only one of eleven Goslin chapel bells that is known to survive. Cast in copper and tin in 1896. Relatives would pay the sexton a shilling to have the bell tolled for 30 minutes in honour of the memory of the deceased.

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And the Harry Potter connection?  Lavenham Guildhall was transformed into Harry Potter’s parents’ derelict house for the filming of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1

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Heyjude

I now live back in the UK, but spent several years travelling the world and then living in South Africa. I look forward to a long and leisurely retirement doing what I like most - gardening, photography, walking and travelling.

31 thoughts on “Lavenham Guildhall”

  1. For whom the bell tolls? It’s a nice old thing. I’d sooner be out in the garden than with all those poor suffering souls. Sobering is right! Speaking of which, I’m off to drown my sorrows on a ‘Christmas’ luncheon with our walking group. A non Christmas menu 🙂 🙂

  2. Well, I suppose we don’t beat paupers these days but some social attitudes seem to have changed only in degree! Looks like a very well made exhibition and, on a cheerier note, a lovely garden.

        1. We did motte and bailey castles! I’d have loved to have known more about the Vikings as I was born in a part of the country which was invaded (Yorkshire) and, as a consequence, has villages and towns with Viking names.

    1. It wasn’t a great time to be a child was it? I vividly remember being horrified reading the Water Babies when I was young. Mindst you I think we have gone a bit too far the other way now, when ‘children’ stay at home well into their twenties even going on family holidays still!

  3. Very sobering, Jude. We often comment about the buried, untold stories in cemeteries and old, historic buildings. You’ve just demonstrated how horrific those stories often were 😦

        1. Yes, getting round London takes about 2 of those! You can get a train to Bury St Edmunds or Sudbury and from either place there are regular buses. Not really a day trip is it.

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