The Suffolk city’s magnificence apparently saved Andrew Lloyd Webber from ideas of suicide. What makes it so particular?
Half-timbered homes in Lavenham … ‘almost every building in the centre is a slice of history.’
‘Thank God for Lavenham,” writes Andrew Lloyd Webber in his new memoir. The composer says that, as a depressed 15-year-old, he bought painkillers and a one-way ticket to the end of the London underground, then a bus to the former wool town. It was the beauty of Lavenham’s buildings and its Grade I-listed church that saved him from ideas of suicide.
Fans of musicals have obtained this stunning village within the coronary heart of Suffolk to thank for Aspects of Love and Cats. But what makes it so good?
The Guardian has referred to as Lavenham “one of the most beautiful small towns in Britain”, and never with out purpose. Almost each constructing within the centre of the village is a timber-framed slice of historical past. In The Buildings of England, Pevsner describes John Wastell’s 1525 gothic church as “the perfect picture” and notes that “for houses in towns and villages, there is nothing in England to beat Lavenham in numbers and variety”. The parish council has even sought Unesco world heritage standing. The result’s a deluge of allure – albeit a deluge that’s offset by jealousy that you just don’t reside there; which is itself adopted by spurious fantasies about dropping every little thing and moving right here.
The wool commerce made Lavenham one of many richest cities in medieval England, however you most likely realize it for its function in Stanley Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon and, er, Lovejoy. The home that doubled as Harry Potter’s birthplace within the movies is on sale for slightly below £1m. Meanwhile, followers of pupil favorite Mr Nice can even be happy to find that Howard Marks was captured on the 15th-century Swan resort in 1980. We’re nonetheless ready for a blue – or inexperienced – plaque.
The royal wedding ceremony avenue social gathering in 2011. Photograph: Adam Davy/PA
When I visited Lavenham in 2011, it was the weekend of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s wedding ceremony. Lured there by no different purpose than a financial institution holiday provide on the Swan, we found ourselves with nothing to do however head to the village sq., which had been cleared for a big-screen bunting-based extravaganza. Thanks partly to the Richard Curtisian Englishness of it, however primarily to the friendliness of the locals (and the booze pouring out of Marco Pierre White’s Angel pub) even this lifelong republican was gained over. Lave modifications every little thing, I suppose.