Britain

SHEAR DELIGHT

Spend a long weekend in a certain patch of southern Suffolk, nestled along the River Stour and its tributaries, and you’d be forgiven for thinking you had slipped back in time. The five towns of Sudbury, Lavenham, Long Melford, Clare and Hadleigh seem to encapsulate an England of yesteryear, with their market squares, winding streets lined with crooked timber-framed houses and often disproportionately grand churches.

These ‘wool towns’ owe their architectural appeal to the boom and bust they experienced as centres of the medieval wool trade. In the 15th century, these quiet villages became hubs of feverish industry, with much of the work to produce woollen cloth taking place within local people’s homes. As the region flourished, impressive houses, guildhalls and churches sprang up

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