Lavenham has its secrets too

Tucked away in a small room upstairs, its walls covered in monochrome images from the early part of the last century, there's a British Council black and white film: a time capsule of Lavenham life, transporting visitors back to an idealised time of gentle landscapes, rural idylls and an altogether slower pace of life in the countryside of the 1940s.

Produced in 1942 at a time of enormous upheaval and in the midst of war, the British Council film entitled ‘Lowland Village’ painted an idyllic picture of rural life in Lavenham, but nowadays takes on an entirely different role as a rare film record of Lavenham village.  

Mind you, it's not the only secret village history the Guildhall has to offer. This little room also showcases the work of passionate local photographer, historian and visionary conservationist, Francis Lingard Ranson. 

A Master Tailor and Outfitter by trade, local resident Ranson (1882 - 1950), was a leading figure in the movement to obtain national recognition for the architectural and historical importance of the village of Lavenham, and it's his legacy that you see all around you today in the wealth of preserved buildings, not least of which is The Guildhall.  

As well as amassing a collection of photos, Ranson played a key role in the negotiations with Sir William Eley Quilter, Baronet and son of Sir William Cuthbert Quilter, who restored the Guildhall and bequeathed it to the people of Lavenham. 

Ownership of The Guildhall passed to the National Trust in 1951, a year after Ranson's death, although negotiations had begun as far back as 1946. Today the National Trust maintains and cares for this jewel in the architectural crown of Lavenham. 

Immerse yourself in a little bit of history and step back over 80 years through the magic of Ranson's images and the gentleness of the British Council film. 

Be transported back in time and visit the Lowland Village