This timber-framed building, reflecting the affluence of the local cloth merchants, dates from 1529. It was originally the hall of the Guild of Corpus Christi. Late medieval guilds were established to raise funds for Catholic priests’ duties, but were also involved in business meetings, organising social activities, and the celebration of a patron saint. When guilds were abolished by acts of parliament in 1545 and 1547 by Protestant reformers, the building was used as a prison and a workhouse. The hall was given to the National Trust in 1951 by Sir (William Eley) Cuthbert Quilter of Bawdsey Manor, 2nd Bt, son of the noted art collector of the same name, and the Lavenham Preservation Committee. Funds for repair and upkeep were raised by local appeal, supported by the Pilgrim Trust. The Guildhall, together with the adjoining cottages and the Old Chapel, are run by the Lavenham Guildhall Management Committee. The portraits that hang here are not indigenous, but are of prominent Suffolk gentry; the Brinkley ‘wives’ were descended from a family of wool traders.
National Trust, Lavenham Guildhall
Market Place, Lavenham, Sudbury, Suffolk CO10 9QZ England
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