15th May 2013 - A Member Outing
The Society heralded the summer by organising our first outing, to Little Hall in Lavenham, and what a glorious event it was.
As their leaflet aptly remarks, this is “The story of Lavenham in a unique family home”, and LWHS members would certainly agree that Little Hall deserves to be one of Simon Jenkins' “England's Thousand Best Houses” - we had a wonderful time despite the weather.
Stepping through the door, one proceeds through the centuries as each room is traversed, passing the most eclectic and wonderful array of marvelous objects on the way. The history of this ancient timber framed building, which was stupendously improved by removal of the ghastly pebble dashing, really does mirror the changing fortunes of Lavenham.
It was built in the 14th century, so its core is now over 600 years old, and then enlarged and improved in the 15th century, before being rescued from potential obscurity by the Gayer-Anderson twins in the 1920s and 30s.
And what a statement they made, by restoring it faithfully and filling it with wondrous things acquired during their extensive global travels: antiques, pictures, books, china and decorative art. Despite bequeathing thousands of objects to museums worldwide, many of their personal possessions remain in the house, adding greatly to its charm and interest.
There are seven rooms crammed with things, but my personal favouite is the spectacular Upper Chamber with its wondrous timber framed ceiling supported by the most incredible King Post I have ever seen; if you are not sure what this is, I urge you to visit; you will not be disappointed.
An added bonus are the magnificent gardens, which though not large, are considerably bigger than one could possibly imagine from the outside, and comprise a veritable haven of tranquility from the world at large.
Finally, I must mention our guide for the afternoon, who was so well informed and enthusiastic she fired our imaginations with an intimate knowledge of the house, its room and contents therein, which was an absolute delight. I was also pleased to see her stroke the beautiful bronze replica of the famous Gayer-Anderson cat, which represents the Egyptian protective goddess Bastet, and found myself doing likewise whenever I passed through the room - magical.
It is with great memories of a wonderful place that I sign off until next time.