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The feeling you get when you step into an ancient building is a magical one: a tangible sense that we’re standing in the same space where people just like us have stood in for hundreds of years. Suffolk is lucky to have countless examples of medieval architecture still left to explore, from grand wool churches to tiny crooked cottages. These are just a few of the very best that you shouldn’t miss:
Ancient House in Clare (c) Evelyn SimakYou can spend a romantic holiday for two at Ancient House in Clare
Photo (c) Evelyn Simak


Where better to start our look at medieval architecture than the Ancient House? This cottage is in Clare, Suffolk’s smallest town. Its front displays one of the finest examples of pargeting in the country; this was a decorative technique of creating patterns with plaster that is associated mainly with East Anglia. Inside the timber framed walls, Ancient House is a sloping-floored bolt-hole, with a museum on the ground floor and charming rooms above. You can even book a stay in Ancient House, via The Landmark Trust’s website.
St Mary's Church in Thornham Parva (c) Angels & PinnaclesSt Mary's Church in Thornham Parva is not what it seems
Photo (c) Angels & Pinnacles


 If it’s medieval splendour you want then any of Suffolk’s grand wool churches will do the trick. But Thornham Parva is something different. Tucked away in the corner of a field, this stocky little church with its square tower and lovely thatched roof seems unassuming at first. Step inside however, and you’ll find Britain’s largest and most complete medieval altarpiece, a great retable whose chequered panels depict saints, Christ and the Virgin Mary, with liberal splashes of gold. You can find out more about this and other Suffolk Churches from Angels and Pinnacles.
Lavenham High Street (c) Karen RoeThe streets of Lavenham have hardly changed in 500 years
Photo (c) Karen Roe


 No article about Suffolk’s – or even England’s – medieval architecture would be complete without a mention of Lavenham. Well known as England’s best-preserved medieval village, Lavenham is chock-full of timber-framed cottages and historic buildings. Lavenham’s Guildhall, Little Hall, Wool Hall, Priory, the Old Grammar School and the stunning Church of St Peter and St Paul – just a sample of the medieval architecture in this village and they’re all within walking distance of each other.
Hill House Hall in WoodbridgeInside medieval Hill House Hall in Woodbridge
Photo (c) Hill House Hall


 In 2011, The Sunday Times listed this medieval double-wealden hall as one of the Top 100 Hotels in the World. Behind its pretty Georgian façade is a bounty of Tudor relics, including wall paintings, open fireplaces, ship timbers and a rare example of a Tudor merchant’s mark, not to mention some incredibly comfortable beds. You can find out more about this charming hotel on the Hill House Hall website.


If you spot a beautiful old building in Suffolk, why not send us a photo of it via Facebook, Twitter or Instagram?