Events: Signing & Lavenham


Launch of The Crooked House and Signing at Corn Craft

Sunday 26th June 2005 from 10.30am - 2.15pm

Corn Craft is on a farm in Monks Eleigh, a pretty village of mostly traditional Suffolk cottages four miles east of Lavenham. Owner Win Gage is a long term Hazle stockist, and from 1994-7 the Victorian Post Office from nearby Bury St Edmunds was their local piece. For years Win has been asking Hazle to model The Crooked House in Lavenham, well-known by locals and popular with tourists. The new ceramic is shown beside the real thing in the Lavenham section below, which also gives a flavour of our Guided Walk. The Signing Specials, some with event-related themes, are on a separate page.


Corn Craft Entrance

Corn Craft Entrance

Created from redundant farm buildings, this photo shows one end of the Cafe and Gift Shop. There are also Garden & Interior Furnishings, Craft Kits and Flowers. The farm, currently let out, has been in the same family for over 700 years. That’s what I call having roots! The overcast weather gave way to sunshine by lunchtime and many of us ate out, as in the photo above from bridgefarmbarns.co.uk.

Corn Craft Cafe

Corn Craft Cafe

Part of the cafe before all our group of 40 plus arrived. Hazle, behind the lady in turquoise, holds fort at the far end with the Signing Specials on her left. Complimentary elevenses of strawberry scones with tea or coffee were served to collectors. The daily specials menu is on the blackboards. Almost all food is prepared in-house by a dedicated team, with the dessert selection especially mouthwatering.


Visiting Lavenham for The Guided Walk at 2.45pm

At the height of its prosperity in the reign of Henry VIII (1509-1547) Lavenham was ranked the fourteenth wealthiest town in England, ahead of the large cities of Lincoln and York. As an indicator of its status, in 1578 Henry's daughter Queen Elizabeth 1 visited with her entire court. For at least 500 years, through periods of decline and revival, cloth manufacture or wool and yarn preparation was the main source of income. In the 19th and early 20th centuries coconut matting and horsehair products were produced instead. Today tourism is important. But Lavenham still has a thriving local community where people live and work.

The Hayloft

The Hayloft

This former coach house is now a holiday cottage which Chris and I managed to book at the last-minute just for the weekend. It saved us having to make two long journeys on the same day. The cottage was well appointed with a lovely open-plan vaulted and beamed living room on the first floor. The sitting area overlooked part of the Market Place and from the kitchen diner section there were views across rooftops to the famous medieval church.

Corpus Christi Guildhall

Corpus Christi Guildhall

This sumptuous timber-framed building was erected in 1520. Now owned by the National Trust and open to the public, it also serves as a local Community Centre. There is a small museum of local history and a library. The back garden grows herbs for dyeing including woad for Lavenham's once famous blue serge broadcloth. The Hayloft nestles just behind it on the right. Normally a carpark, Chris took this photo early on sunny Monday with few cars around.

Lavenham Market Place

Lavenham Market Place

A beautiful triangular space crowning a hilltop surrounded by timber-framed buildings, some masked by later facades of brick and plaster. It would once have been packed with people, animals, stalls and goods. This view of a few shops and houses opposite the Guildhall is similar to what we could see from The Hayloft. The Angel Hotel, where the Needells from Norwich stayed, is on the right.

The Reverend and Mrs Paul Brett

The Reverend and Mrs Paul Brett

Chris encountered Paul and Judy in the Market Place just before the start of the Guided Walk. Lavenham just happens to be situated in the Brett valley! After recent knee surgery Paul wasn’t up to walking and wanted to rest. Chris and I were able to offer him the haven of The Hayloft as a better alternative to a bench, complete with Earl Grey tea, strawberries and cream and a copy of The Sunday Times!

Gathering for The Guided Walk

Gathering for The Guided Walk

Collectors congregate outside the Guildhall in the Market Place. Hazle is in the centre at the back.

Group 1 Starts Their Tour

Group 1 Starts Their Tour

Waiting for everyone to arrive, the first group including Chris and me, sets off ahead of Group 2.

Little Hall

Little Hall

On the east side of the Market Place, this was built in the 15th century and extensively refurbished by two brothers in the 1930s. Now HQ to the Suffolk Preservation Society it is open to the public at certain times. The central part was originally an open hall with a central hearth. Smoke drifted up to a hole in the gables blackening the rafters and walls. In the 16th century a brick chimney was installed and an entirely new room created on the first floor.

Molet House

Molet House

In Barn Street this clothier’s house with a treble overhang has a magnificent broad doorway four to five feet wide. They were used to lead a pack-horse through to the back where it could be unloaded away from the prying eyes of competitors. Within the broad door was a much smaller one for everyday use. Opposite is the local Primary School where the separately marked entrances for Boys and Girls date from Victorian times. Little Hall is in the distance.

Glimpse of the Countryside

Glimpse of the Countryside

Walking down Bolton Street we get a vista of the lovely Suffolk countryside reminding us how close it is to the town. There is a similar view from the top of Prentice Street in the Market Place. The demarcation between town and country is very sharp in Lavenham, with no sprawling semi-rural suburbs.

Water Street

Water Street

Built 1450-1500, whole streets of timbered houses, not just the odd one here and there, are what make Lavenham unique. Over 300 listed buildings is extraordinary for a place of this size. The foreground cottage has the original first-floor overhang. The yellow ones were altered from 1750.

The Old Grammar School

The Old Grammar School

This was formerly attended by the artist John Constable who was born in the county. He remembered it as a wretched place where he was regularly beaten by a schoolmaster. The pretty cottage is now a private dwelling.

The Wool Hall

The Wool Hall

One of several buildings dismantled for US export and rebuilt after local protests! Dated 1464, it became the back of The Swan Hotel in 1963. An open hall once used for trading, it is now a venue for weddings and other grand occasions.

The Crooked House Gallery

The Crooked House Gallery

With traffic whizzing along the High Street Chris found it hard to get a decent shot from the other side of the road. Showing considerable subsidence, the distorted and leaning frame is evidence of the strength and durability of medieval oak timbers.

Hazle's Crooked House

Hazle's Crooked House

This cross-wing is all that is left of a large medieval house, originally used as the service area. Currently an art gallery, it may have been a weaver's cottage once. These often housed big families and, with a working loom as well, could be very cramped.

The Swan Hotel

The Swan Hotel

The main facade on the High Street, from the corner to beyond the red car. Built in 1400, the building has been considerably changed. At one time there were 50 stables, and the draughty coach journey to London took thirteen hours with several changes of horses. Note the lack of overhead cables, replaced by an underground system in 1967.

Afternoon Tea at The Swan

Afternoon Tea at The Swan

One of Hazle's favourite places, our group was invited to meet here after the walk. Around 20 of us sank exhausted but happy into the squashy sofas and chairs from around 5pm. Late Group 2 walkers, who went to the Church as well, still wait for their cream tea in the foreground. It was lovely to end the day in the comfort of such surroundings.


From Pete (and Lorraine) on 28th June:

I am a new collector and really enjoy the ceramics. My wife and I joined the event at Lavenham where we met Marilyn, who kindly offered details of this group. Lavenham was a most enjoyable day out and gave us the chance to meet other collectors.


From Yorkshire Karen on 4th July:

Thank you for sharing the day at Lavenham with us. As you know, our family went there during school holidays, so we had a “Hazle” day at Lavenham… without Hazle! Please tell Chris I share his frustration at trying to get a decent picture of the Crooked House. The day we went, I gave up completely as it was raining, and the passing traffic was the least of my problems: there was a removal lorry parked right outside the entrance! So thanks to Chris also, it was nice to see the building in its entirety at last! 


From Alice on 5th July:

As a Hazle collector across the pond I was so envious of all at this event. Lavenham looks like such a delightful place. Although I've made many trips to England over past years I never seem to have been able to have it coincide with a Hazle gathering although I hope it will happen one day. Thank you for sharing the photos and notes.


From Kate on 5th July:

Thank you for letting the rest of the group experience something of the lovely day spent at Lavenham. I just wish I could have been able to make it!


From Carolyne on 25th July:

Thanks to Marilyn and Chris for all their efforts to record our lovely day out in Lavenham. Funnily enough we forgot to take our camera but it's all there from start to finish. The write-up is great - it jogged a memory or two. Chris was taking the photos and Marilyn must have a photographic memory - what a combination!



Last modified on 20 January, 2014
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