Lavenham, England: Part one of four great little places

Travel is discovery.  Nothing compares with the thrill of finding an out-of-the-way little spot to tell all your friends about when you return.  Here are four stories about places you may want to

CHARLOTTE, September 17, 2011—An anonymous writer once stated, “Every place is undiscovered until you discover it yourself.”  Discovery is one of the greatest joys of travel and over the years I found numerous “treasures.”  Here is a series of four tiny destinations that are a few of my favorites.

Lavenham, England:  Legend has it that the children’s poem about a “crooked man who walked a crooked mile” originated in the once prosperous wool merchant’s village of Lavenham.  From the moment you arrive in this delightful little burg, located about 70 miles northeast of London, you will know why.  Throughout town the multicolored half-timbered houses lean at irregular angles as if they are supporting each other. 

Nestled within the heart of the East Anglia region of England, Lavenham has become a popular day-trip for Brits and Americans alike, though it rarely appears on maps and still remains largely unknown to most travelers.

During the 15th and first half of the 16th centuries, Lavenham was famous for its blue broadcloth.  Her wealth of the era is clearly visible at the uncommonly large parish church of St. Peter and St. Paul which sits proudly on the hill at the end of High Street.  At 141 feet, the church tower is said to be the highest village church tower in Britain.

For me, however, the appeal of Lavenham culminates at the Swan Hotel where the floors creak, doorways are low, accentuated by punctuation marks over the beams which remind you to duck, and the fireplaces that are always crackling.  The Swan is properly musty while at the same time being charming and elegantly appointed.  Actually, the inn consists of four wool merchant’s buildings that have been merged into a stylish, yet cozy, gem of Tudor architecture that thrives in the Suffolk countryside.

Though the dining room features exquisite cuisine to the delight of the most discriminating palate, it is the bar that captures the greatest fascination.  If ever there was a place where the ghosts of the past enjoy their place in history, it is in the bar at the Swan Hotel. 

Not only can you sense the raucous sounds of RAF and American flyboys who used to frequent the pub during World War II, a glass boot remains in a corner of the room still offering a challenge to anyone who can drink it dry of beer the fastest.  The guzzling record of those contests are still etched on the walls for everyone to see.

Stretched across the bar itself are handbells which are replicas of the original bells that now reside at Peter and Paul’s church up the street.  At certain times in history the church choir would rehearse at the pub, and the bells have been placed there as a reminder.

If the story about the “crooked man” is only a legend, there is another that is absolutely true, for it was in Lavenham that a young woman named Jane Taylor wrote a poem that is known to this day throughout the world.  Ms. Taylor simply called it The Star, but we all know it by its more familiar title of Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.

Peabod is Bob Taylor, owner of Taylored Media Services in Charlotte, NC, founder of The Magellan Travel Club which creates and escorts customized tours to Switzerland, France and Italy for groups of 12 or more.  Inquiries for groups can be made at Peabod@aol.com  Taylored media has produced marketing videos for British Rail, Rail Europe, Switzerland Tourism, the Swedish Travel & Tourism Council, the Finnish Tourist Board, the Swiss Travel System and Japan Railways Group among others.  As author of The Century Club book, Peabod is now attempting to travel to 100 countries or more during his lifetime.  To date he has visited 65 countries.  Suggest someplace new for Bob to visit; if you want to know where he has been, check his list on Facebook.  Bob plans to write a sequel to his book when he reaches his goal of 100 countries.


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Bob Taylor

Bob Taylor has been travel writer for more than three decades. Following a career as an award winning sports producer/anchor, Taylor’s media production business produced marketing presentations for Switzerland Tourism, Rail Europe, the Finnish Tourist Board, Japan Railways Group, the Swedish Travel & Tourism Council and the Swiss Travel System among others. He is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com) and his goal is to visit 100 countries or more during his lifetime.

 

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