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Lavenham: Famed medieval pub wants to ditch its troublesome thatch but parish council want to retain original look to the village

16:58 12 February 2014

A row has broken out over whether a pub in a famed medieval Suffolk village should retain its traditional thatched roof.

Landlady Val Spencer.Landlady Val Spencer.

The owners of The Cock Inn in Lavenham want to replace the troublesome thatch with small clay tiles, but the parish council would prefer to see the traditional thatched roof retained on aesthetic grounds.

Parish council chairman Roy Whitworth said although the majority of the Tudor and Victorian houses in Lavenham’s Church Street are tiled, local members thought the thatched roof was attractive to visitors entering the village and offered “something a bit different” in the streetscape.

He said: “The majority of parish councillors felt that because the pub is in a conservation area at a prominent location next to the bus station and car park, the building has quite a significant impact on visitors’ first views of the village.

“The majority voted for it to stay.”

Neighbours are upset because The Cock pub is replacing its thatched roof with tiles. Pictured is landlady Val Spencer.Neighbours are upset because The Cock pub is replacing its thatched roof with tiles. Pictured is landlady Val Spencer.

But the landlady, Val Spencer, branded the thatch as impractical, difficult to maintain, very expensive and with a limited life span – and intends to proceed with the plan.

She said: “Because the pub is thatched, people assume it’s an old Tudor building but it’s not – it was actually put up in 1953.

“The current roof is defunct and falling apart and although it may look nice when you come into the village, thatch is really not nice to live under.

“I have two fire places in the pub and as it stands at the moment, I can’t use them because the insurance with a thatched roof is astronomical.”

According to Ms Spencer and contrary to popular misconception, there are only two other thatched buildings in Lavenham. She believes the new tiled roof on the pub, which isn’t listed, will be more in keeping with the houses in the main street.

She added: “It’s not as if we haven’t looked closely at this and we have given great regard to what is around us. The houses opposite have tiles and the little red plain tiles we are replacing the thatch with will weather with time and will fit in perfectly.

“The best thing for customers is that we will finally be able to have open fires in the winter.”

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