Lovely medieval Lavenham is home to more than 300 listed buildings, which makes it one of the best preserved villages in England, if not Europe. It is perhaps most famous as one of the Suffolk wool towns, and certainly one of the most handsome.
In the 15th century, Lavenham and several of its surrounding towns and villages became hugely wealthy at the peak of the wool trade, and this wealth gave rise to the half-timbered houses that still stand proud today. Pitched at crooked angles, these quirky buildings seem to defy gravity, so it comes as little surprise to learn they feature in both instalments of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Perhaps the most famous example is the Guildhall of Corpus Christi, which is now home to a museum where you can learn more about the village’s rich heritage. Or there’s Lavenham Priory, a remarkable Grade I-listed, half-timbered house where you can stay.
If you’re planning to visit Lavenham in 2017, do consider the weekend of 19 May. The village will host a weekend of special events to mark the 75th anniversary of US Forces arriving in support of the Second World War, when Lavenham Airfield was used as a base by the 487th Bombardment Group.
Tucked in the Wray Valley in the Dartmoor National Park, this unassuming village paints a quintessentially British picture. With a postcard-worthy combination of thatched cottages, traditional pub and church whose origins date back to the 13th century, it ticks all the boxes when it comes to village life.
Where it truly stands out, though, is its incredible setting. Lustleigh Cleave attracts walkers from miles around, keen to take in the sweeping views of Dartmoor from its lofty ridge, or follow the path of the River Bovey deep in the valley beneath. Indeed, there are plenty of walks in the area that give widescreen views over Dartmoor’s cinematic landscape. On a clear day, one can see across the tors and hills all the way to the coastline of the English Riviera in the distance.
For visitors keen to experience the village in full colour, two events are highly recommended. May Day is something of a speciality in Lustleigh, with traditional maypole dancing, a carnival procession throughout the village and the crowning of the May Queen. August Bank Holiday Monday, meanwhile, is the date of Lustleigh’s traditional village show, which takes over the fields at Kelly Farm and is a highlight of the calendar.