April 2024 Meeting.

Little Hall – Lavenham in a Nutshell.

Graham Panton, 10th April 2024.

Slides by Wendy Barnes.

Little Hall was believed to have been started in the 1390’s and was built by wealthy clothiers who made their money selling cloth at the Lavenham market. By 1524 Lavenham was the wealthiest town in England.

Little Hall was created by the the beams being cut and jointed by carpenters in their workshops and then put together on site. The left hand side of the building is the oldest part. The house was enlarged in the 1500’s and through the passage of time improvements were made with the addition of chimneys, an extra floor added and glass put in the windows.

Broad cloth was the material that made the money in Lavenham, but unfortunately as new products of lighter more colourful fabrics were developed and became popular, Lavenham failed to adapt and by the late 17th and 18th century the cloth trade died and the people had gone into agriculture instead. Lavenham became poorer and the large buildings were divided into smaller units, which the common working people occupied.

The census showed at one time up to 30 people inhabited Little Hall including a schoolmistress, labourers, a shoemaker and a weaver.

However in 1924 twin brothers called Robert Gayer Anderson and Thomas Gayer Anderson, who were both army officers, bought the Great House and Little Hall.

The brothers were great collectors, particularly of Egyptian artefacts and they used Little Hall as a place to display their treasures. As the tenants left Little Hall the brothers sympathetically restored the building back to its former glory and moved in themselves.

After the brothers deaths their collections were gifted to the British Museum and The Fitzwilliam Museum and eventually the house passed into the possession of Historic Suffolk who enables this beautiful building to be viewed by us all. 

Sally Card

NOTICES March 2024

  1. Tickets are still available for the River Orwell Cruise on 19th June. Contact the Chair.
  2. Sudbury on Show – 22 people signed up for more information about the society.
  3. The August picnic meeting is to be replaced this year by an evening visit to the Drill Hall in Sudbury for a guided tour and a talk about its history and importance from the Boer War to the present day.
  4. The Speaker’s list has been amended to include the Drill Hall. Printed lists for monthly meetings and excursions are available at the meetings for members who are not able to print at home.

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