The pubs were open just down the road from our tick-less stop, though there turned out to be no beer in Lavenham.  Mrs RM asked me if I wanted to go in the Greyhound, and I said no, before remembering 20 minutes later it meant she needed the ladies.  They don’t teach you mind-reading at Cottenham Village College.

Higgledy Piggledy Café

This was our first trip to Suffolk‘s second major honeypot village (after Eye) for many years.  I think my parents lost interest when the price of a coffee in the higgledy-piggledy café went above a quid.

On a sunny day it did look spectacularly attractive, particularly around a church entirely out of proportion to the village. I think those bushes are a maze.


We followed a group of Japanese tourists in there, noting their admiration for the hand-embroidered 16th century pew cushions.

Each pub represented on a cushion too

If anything, Lavenham looked smarter than I remember it.  It was also quieter than Clun, with no-one about, and few folk under 50 (except Mrs RM).  Perhaps they were all in one of the Spa Hotels that seem to dominate every corner.

In fact the only noise came from the inevitable tradesmen, tidying up the pargeting and removing graffiti celebrating Ipswich Town’s 1978 FA Cup win.  I didn’t see much sign of a basic pub for the tradesmen to pile into at 4pm.

The Angel used to be the Beer Guide regular, back when Nethergate IPA was almost an exotic import round here. It doesn’t look very pubby now, but then it’s apparently run by a guy who thinks £5 a pint is reasonable.

Note tourist searching WhatPub for a decent pint

There’s not a lot to do in town but gawp, and plan your next coffee stop, which is what Mrs RM had been doing for half an hour by now. “Ooo look, it’s Cask Marque” she said (sarcastically, I hope), “you can try the beer in the Greyhound“.

Possibly not.

Guess the Greene King from the back

Problems with cooling in the cellar apparently, and the charming staff weren’t going to serve me warm beer.  Very sensible of them.  I was offered GK IPA in a bottle.  So coffee it was, despite the artisan gins and whatever Luscombe Drinks are. If there was a scoring system for coffee I’d give it 3.5. .

Tom/Dave/Dick  –  There’s (at least) three errors in this post, one of taste.

There’s a good pub 2 miles down the road, but of course we didn’t go there.

40 thoughts on “LAVENHAM – WOOL & WARM BEER

  1. For the £5 pint, note the following story:
    That’s what happens when you turn pubs into rip off pretentious scrote holes.

    The building that is almost black and amber and about to fall down isn’t actually a cafe.
    The cushions were actually embroidered in the 17th century, not the 16th.
    The staff weren’t actually charming as they charged you something like £4.35 whilst failing to keep beer in an acceptable manner. Top marks for admitting incompetence though rather than carrying on doing the job badly.


    1. o.5 out of 3 Tom. Amazingly hard when you can’t use a search engine of your choice.

      But you get a mark for the story, which contains 3 of the worst things in the world;

      The word “casual”


      1. Who says that I can’t?

        The obvious corrections are that the Japanese tourists either didn’t exist or were actually Bulgarian, and that the error in taste was rating the coffee.

        I reckon the half mark will be for insufficient detail on the collapsing building, which appears to have a rack of postcards just inside the door, which doesn’t quite fit for a cafe. I reckon it is some form of tourist tat gift shop, probably specialising in donkeys or something.


  2. Lavenham is a beautiful town. We visited the Angel years ago when it was a pub and then again after its current gastro form. Not the same. Nice the first time. That many turned taps should not be permitted.


    1. It didn’t look like a pub at all now.

      To be fair to the Greyhound, it was a problem with the cellar rather than the barrels; it’s just not impressive in a major Greene King outlet (the brewery is 10 miles away of course).


      1. Agree entirely with your assessment of the Angel under MPW. It was best when Roy and John ran it: Roy (the fifth Beetle) playing the piano, John running the pub three nights each week to avoid his wife (and so finding better and better reason to stay open later and later), anarchic quiz nights, great and homely pub food, a welcome venue for young farmers and the cricket team, cribbage, dominoes and coffee every Saturday morning, buzzing with locals, great beer and kept winning awards, should never have become a ghastly ghastro pub. It was Roy and John won the awards – so easily lost in the wrong hands that followed. We are fortunate that the Angel has returned to the good old days under John II, its new landlord. Unfortunately you missed the other TWO pubs in the village (and a further two other places selling good beer each day). Thinking of Mrs RM, the Angel was first known as The Harpy.

        Most of the kneelers were for the Millennium as a competition, but there are a couple date back to the 19th C. Eight places in the village offer coffee. The football is live on a big screen at the CockHorse which is precisely the sort of place locals pile into after a big match and right by the Church – a stroke of genius putting a pub opposite the church ie wife goes to church, with lots to keep her occupied, while husband sits “waiting diligently” opposite

        You should be grateful to Mrs RM as Lavenham is more famous for its shops (over 60) and, after sour beer, “the female art of window shopping” (we have all of “butchers, bakers and candlestick makers” plus TWO Coops – one either end of our short High St) is a far greater punishment inflicted by the fairer sex than seeking out expensive coffee. In the fact that we have two Coops lies the answer to Coop’s poor Board direction and mismanagement over the last 20 years!

        The best time to gawp in Lavenham is at night: the stars are magnificent (after the removal of street lighting in he 1980s); we have more ghosts per capita of the living than any other place in the world; and most houses keep the curtains open onto beautiful drawing rooms with tapestries, open fires, oak and iron furnishings (what my priest friend calls “Beam porn” – a reference to his only visit to the red light district in Amsterdam)!

        Time it right and most weekends have something going on in the village: from chamber music to football, tennis and cricket tournament matches, to processions, vintage car rallies, an art or music or book festival, dancing in the market square or a farmer’s market at the village hall, a joust or a steam engine rally, ballooning, cycling, gliding (absurd but the UK record for straight line gliding is from Lavenham to Cornwall) and plenty of good walks. With six places to get fresh beer, however, there is very little need to go for a longer walk than to one of our hostelries – inexcusable not to have found at least one stop off for good beer not charging an arm and a leg or whose staff are brave enough to venture into their cellars. The Angel staff by the way also will avoid their cellars – in their case because it houses the oldest ghost in the village!

        Lavenham peaked at 9 pubs and 5 Guild Halls serving beer (as well as two vineyards and four brewers). This was at the time it had 172 households. We have regressed from that magnificent time but we are still somewhere to come for a good pint at any time in the year (provided you are guided by a local and not by a lover of the dreaded black bean)

        Liked by 1 person

      2. That’s a really great comment, Tony. Almost as long as that post of mine from 2016, in fact ! Perhaps I’ll try and get my Dad to drive out from Cambridge when it’s a bit warmer. He’d like that.


  3. Eye is a town, not a village, which I should have spotted without assistance.

    I am sticking by the not a cafe theory, something must have got me half a point. I just hope it isn’t that the cushion was made by Dorris on Monday.

    The question of taste must be the cup. I quite like it personally.


    1. Your very English point is fascinating to me. We often use the term Village and town interchangeably, and I often don’t know for sure which places in England are towns or villages. When I make this mistake I am immediately corrected by the English. Other than us being wrong and imprecise why is this mistake so quickly admonished? Is there an important distinction between the two that leads to such a quick and strong reaction?


      1. That is an interesting question, Dave. On a personal level it is largely because I am a pedant and strive for accuracy. I am also interested in increasing my knowledgebase.

        In the majority of cases, I suspect it is a case of pride, with, in converse examples, people being proud of their quaint little village or even their grand old town. People in villages will see it as being called common if they are called a town, people in towns will see it as people calling them overly small. See the slightly infamous case in which Brian Laws called Scunthorpe a little village to see how people react. There is also a case of civic pride, as upgrades in status are generally by royal charter These days it is relatively rare for a village to become a town, even so cases like Brough and Cottingham should probably be considered, yet on many special occasions, towns are arbitrarily and pointlessly upgraded, see Sunderland and Wolverhampton for examples. Although in the competition to become a city it is always entertaining to see Doncaster disqualified, especially if it is for fraud.

        For reference, traditionally a village needs a CoF church, anything smaller is a hamlet, a town needs a royal charter, a city needs a CoE cathedral. There are many exceptions these days. Blackburn is often quoted as an oddity for being a town with a cathedral, this is not odd at all as it is an RC cathedral. Blackburn is rightly for its size and status a Lancastrian town, something the place should be proud of. I mean no offence in stating that.

        I would be interested to see if anybody has anything to add to that or even disagrees with me.


      2. Tom, I can generally sense pedants since several of my older brothers personify the word. I think there was an element of pedantry in people correcting me, but I do think your more detailed explanation is likely correct. I always thought after being corrected that I had offended someone’s pride. I just was never sure if I was reading too much into the comments though. I do appreciate the input especially since it led to the exchange with Malcolm below. I had a good laugh on that exchange.


  4. Tom, ” knowledge base” should be two separate words. Was it just a typo?
    Also in your penultimate paragraph describing Blackburn, you surely cannot finish a sentence with “of.” Ought it not to have read ” something of which the place should be proud”?


    1. I confess to being unsure whether I could have knowledgbase as one word these days, a lot of things of that ilk have been contracted, as you will often see with shorter examples on Countdown. I gambled and lost. Martin, I consider that an offence worthy of a points deduction.

      Your second point is controversial. I don’t have a problem with ending a sentence with ‘of” in that manner. See this extract from the OED:
      It is possibly a bad habit to do this too much though and I will try to control myself.

      Just to clarify, what were the quiz answers Martin? I’m sure I made a hash of it, even on my second go.


      1. Those Lavenham answers in full;

        Eye is a town, not a village.

        The pew cushions can’t predate 1865, the formation of the Salvation Army, and indeed could have been made by the Japanese visitors that very morning.

        Those hideous green coffee cups are the EXACT same copy of the ones Mrs RM and I had at infant school. Bad error.


  5. Might not the coffee cups be actual relics from a closed infant/primary, which has probably closed owing to the ageing local demographic?


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