Little Hall, Lavenham

Little Hall, Lavenham

At a glance

Causes

  • Arts
  • Gardens and parks
  • Museums / heritage

Other details

Geographical remit: 
Local

Objectives

Little Hall, Lavenham is an independent accredited museum owned by the Suffolk Building Preservation Trust (Charity 265212). As a medieval hall house it was built in the 14th century for a family of clothiers. Through the years of Lavenham’s rising prosperity it was extended and improved. Following the subsequent centuries of decline, by the 19th century it accommodated 6 separate families.

In the 1920s and 30s twin brothers Thomas and Robert Gayer-Anderson restored it and made it their home. They bequeathed it as a hostel for students of the Kingston College of Art, leaving it furnished from their extensive collection of furniture, art and other objects. Other parts of their collection can be found in the British Museum, Fitzwilliam Cambridge, V&A, Ipswich, Cairo and Canberra as well as Canada, Greece and Sweden. The building exemplifies the art and development of the timber frame house and reflects the social changes of Lavenham through the ages. The contents show the eclectic tastes and skills of the twins, where Thomas, who rose to Lt-Colonel in his army career, was an accomplished cabinet maker, painter and sculptor. Robert trained as a doctor, rose to Major in the army and went on to become a distinguished Egyptologist. He left a house and collection as the Gayer-Anderson museum in Cairo and was honoured as ‘Pasha’ by King Farouk for services to Egypt. The brothers founded the Lavenham Preservation Committee, playing a crucial role in protecting the medieval character of the village for the benefit of future generations.

Activities

As a museum Little Hall has been open to the public for 40 years, run entirely by volunteers. From Easter to October it is open 7 days a week. We aim to make the Gayer-Anderson legacy available to the widest range of people. Our guides offer every visitor an introductory talk.  Judging by the comments we get in our visitors’ book and on TripAdvisor they succeed in presenting an entertaining story with great enthusiasm.

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