Suffolk's Pink and Crooked Houses – Lavenham, England - Atlas Obscura

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Suffolk's Pink and Crooked Houses

Lavenham, England

The historic villages and towns of Suffolk are filled with wonky wooden beam houses painted an unusual shade of pink. Unknown to many though, this sweet shade has a bloody history. 


Anybody lucky enough to drive through the county of Suffolk in England may notice that many of the villages and towns have wooden beam houses painted an unusual shade of pink. Known as Suffolk Pink, this traditional tint has been used in the county since the 14th century.

Researchers believe that the story of Suffolk Pink began after local dyers, working in Suffolk’s medieval wool trade, began using pig’s blood to thicken their paint. That’s right; the quaint and twee pink, which decorates the streets of cottages and wonky houses, is the byproduct of pig blood mixed into the limewash paint used to protect these ancient houses for so long. The resulting color became so popular that the juice of berries such as sloe, elder, and blackthorn was added to further deepen and enhance the pink.

Many of these houses stand out not only for their rosy hue, but also the crooked angle at which they stand, leaning against each other and looming over the street below at times. This resulted from the speed at which the original houses were built. A boom in wool production in the town required many larger houses to be built to match the growing population and their new wealth. This sudden need for beamed houses led to the use of green wood, or timber that had not been properly dried. This hurried construction choice led to the wood warping as it dried, and ultimately the twisted, and iconic, houses we have seen since.

The fairytale-esque pairing of contortion and color creates streets that even famed author Robert Louis Stevenson felt “ought to be in a novel.” This feeling resonated with the location scouts of the penultimate Harry Potter film since one of the town’s most iconic houses was used as part of Godric’s Hollow, the birthplace of the boy wizard.

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