Little HallConstable Country
Market Place
Suffolk CO10 9QZ
 
 
Lavenham in east England is known for its wealth of medieval timber-framed buildings. The narrow streets are lined with colour-washed and exposed timber beamed houses from the 14th and 15th centuries.
 
In the Market Place two of these oldest buildings are open to visitors. The largest is Lavenham Guildhall and diagonally opposite is the lovely apricot-coloured Little Hall.
 
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A Medieval Hall House
This building is the only place in Lavenham where the visitor can experience medieval domestic architecture. The last occupants of the house were the Gayer-Anderson brothers who filled the house with art and artefacts collected during their extensive travels. The beautiful furnishings give the house a homely, lived in atmosphere.
 
There are seven fascinating rooms to explore including the ground floor study with its exotic Persian panels, and the spectacular upstairs chamber with its striking crown post.
 
Don’t forget to visit the walled garden behind the house with its dovecot and Elizabethan knot garden.
 
The Building
This delightful late 14th century Hall House was built in the 1390s by the Causton Family as a family home and workplace. They were called ‘hall houses’ because the main living area was a large room with a lofty roof reminiscent of the great hall in a medieval castle.
 
The Caustons were local tradesmen and merchants connected with the cloth and wool trade. Between 1425 and 1450 the house was enlarged and improved. It was ‘modernised’ in the 1550s with the addition of a huge fireplace and chimney. At the same time a strong timber floor was inserted in the lofty hall space to create a large upper room.
 
Little Hall reflects the changing fortunes of Lavenham as it lost its place as one of the wealthiest wool towns in England. The house was greatly expanded in the late 1600s with the addition of a two floor extension beyond the north wing. By the 1700s part of the large house had been divided into cottages and was accommodating six families.
 
The Geyer-Anderson Brothers
In the 1920s Little Hall was bought by two extraordinary men, Major R G Gayer-Anderson and Colonel T G Gayer-Anderson. These identical twins had spent most of their long and amazing army careers in Egypt, Africa and India. They were both artists and passionate collectors of Egyptian and Oriental art objects.
 
They restored the house and made it their home, filling it with a diverse mix of antiques, pictures, books, china and decorative art.
 
Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge
Many of their personal possessions remained in their house but they donated their antiquities to museums worldwide. Some of their collection can be seen in The Fitzwilliam Museum in nearby Cambridge. One of their most famous pieces is the Gayer-Anderson bronze cat representing the goddess Bastet in the British Museum in London. A replica takes pride of place on a table in the house.
 
Robert Gayer-Anderson became an Egyptologist of distinction and was given the title ‘Pasha’ by the Egyptian government. Both brothers were talented artists and Thomas was also a poet of distinction.
 
When the brothers died they bequeathed their house to the Surrey County Council as a Hostel for Art Students of the Kingston School of Art.
 
Opened as a Museum by Suffolk Building Preservation Trust
In 1975 the Council offered The Hall containing the Gayer-Anderson collection of pictures and artefacts, and two cottages to the Suffolk Building Preservation Trust. The Trust restored the building before opening it to the public as a museum.
 
After a turbulent history this beautiful home is once again back in the care of the Lavenham community.
 
Plan your Visit
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Opening Dates, Times & Entry Costs
From April to end of October. The house is closed to visitors on Fridays other than Bank.Holidays.
Open:  Mondays (except Bank Holidays)      10:00 – 13:00 hours
Bank Holidays                                           11:00 – 16:00 hours
Tues, Wed, Thurs, Sat & Sun afternoon:      13:00 – 17:00 hours
Last admission: 16:00 hours
 
To confirm opening times for your visit go to  Web:  Little Hall/ Opening Times
 
Volunteer guides are on hand to tell you all about the house and its former occupants. Allow at least an hour to look around.
 
For Admission Costs
Go to Little Hall website - link below
 
Disabled Access
Wheelchair access is very limited and we suggest telephoning for further details. The telephone is manned during office hours Monday - Thursday.
 
Facilities
None
 
Special Events
Check the Little Hall website regularly for special openings
 
Contact & Further Information
Telephone   +44 (0)1787 247 179 (office hours Mon – Thurs)
Mail    This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
 
Getting There
Little Hall is on the corner of Market Place and Prentice Street. See the Lavenham article in this website for directions.
 
Google Map - Lavenham