Guildhall history

 © Jane Gosling

Religious guilds

As a Catholic body, the gild’s prime functions were religious and charitable. Much good work was done, and subscriptions and bequests ensured not only the swelling of gild coffers, but by paying priests to sing masses for their souls, their period of terrible torment in purgatory could be shortened before they were admitted to heaven.

Origins of the Guildhall

Lavenham Guildhall carvings pre limewash © John Bethell

Lavenham Guildhall carvings pre limewash

Along with the splendid church of St Peter & Paul, the Guildhall is one of Lavenham’s finest buildings. It was built as the meeting hall of the Gild of Corpus Christi (body of Christ) and surprisingly, its members were far more concerned with their souls than with their livelihoods. Religious gilds were abolished by Act of Parliament in 1547 and their property was then confiscated. Following this the Guildhall had a chequered history.

Lavenham Guildhall today

Today the Guildhall is restored

Today the Guildhall is restored

Sir William’s bequest was not forgotten, and today the hall is still used by the local community for meetings, parties and functions of all types. Built as a public building around 1530, the Guildhall is still serving that same purpose today – and we think that’s just as it should be.

Preservation and conservation

Conserving the Guildhall for future generations and keeping our visitors safe are priorities for the National Trust.

Regular surveys and inspections ensure that the building is kept in tip-top condition.