"LAVENHAM, (or Lanham), a parish and small town in the hundred of Babergh, county Suffolk, 7 miles N.E. of Sudbury, its post town, 10 N.W. of Hadleigh, and 19 N.W. of Ipswich. It is situated on a branch of the river Brett, and near the Great Eastern railway. It was given by the Conqueror to Robert Malet, and was subsequently held by the De Veres, earls of Oxford, who once resided here. It is a polling and petty session town, and had, until recently, a market. It was formerly of more importance than at present, and was governed by six capital burgesses, styled headboroughs, elected for the last time in 1775. The town still consists of several streets, but the houses have a mean appearance, showing the decline of trade. There is a horse-hair seating manufactory, and some of the inhabitants are employed in wool-combing, and in plaiting straw for bonnets. Courts leet and baron are occasionally held by the lord of the manor. The living is a rectory* in the diocese of Ely, value £658, in the patronage of Caius College, Cambridge. The church, dedicated to SS. Peter and Paul, is a stone and flint structure, with a lofty tower containing eight bells. It was rebuilt in the reign of Henry VI. The roof of the church is richly carved, and contains the arms of the De Veres, and of the family of Spring, wealthy clothiers, at whose expense this edifice was erected. There are curious monuments of alabaster and marble to Allaine Disler, and the Rev. E. Copinger; also three brasses of the Spring family, one bearing date 1486, besides several other monuments of ancient date. The register dates from 1558. The charities produce about £450 per annum. The almshouses, for forty aged persons. were rebuilt in 1836. There is a grammar school for five free scholars; also National schools. There are places of worship for the Independents and Wesleyans. George Richard Pye, Esq., is lord of the manor. Fairs are held on Shrove Tuesday for horses and cattle, and on 3rd and 11th October for butter and cheese.
Description(s) from The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland (1868)