Dedham Flatford & East Bergholt
Straddling the border of Essex and Suffolk, these villages are at the heart of Constable country
It was here that Britain’s best known landscape artist, John Constable, went to school. The high street is lined with Georgianfronted houses, old inns and a large art and crafts centre housed in a converted church, signs of Dedham’s former wealth created from the medieval cloth industry.
Dedham is frequently rated as containing some of England’s most beautiful lowland landscapes, particularly the Water Meadows of the River Stour, north of the village, forming the boundary between the Suffolk and Essex. Equestrian artist Sir Alfred Munnings, who became president of the Royal Academy, also lived in Dedham and his house, Castle House, now contains a gallery of his work, and his studio.
Dedham Vale, has a charismatic charm. It’s little wonder it has inspired artists for so long. With largely unspoilt English countryside, Dedham Vale and the Stour Valley are an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).
There is no shortage of things to do from hiring a boat along the river, walking the Stour Valley Path, to simply relaxing and enjoying the scenery at wonderful restaurants and pubs. Visit the Munnings Art Museum, explore the exhibitions at the Dedham Art & Craft Centre, and see Dedham church, an impressive 15th century church standing tall in the middle of the village
DEDHAM VALE WALKS
There’s a tree-mile circular walk between Dedham and Flatford, and you can also walk to the nearby villages of Manningtree, East Bergholt and Stratford St Mary.
Find out more about Dedham walks. www.visitcolchester.com
FLATFORD AND EAST BERGHOLT
Flatford and the landscape of the Stour Valley dominated Constable’s paintings from the early 1800s. A year before his birth the Constable family moved from a house next door to the mill to a mansion in East Bergholt. John Constable spent most of his school life at Dedham Grammar School, walking across the fields each day from his home in East Bergholt.
After he left school Constable went to work at his father’s windmill in East Bergholt and in his spare time he used to sketch the landscapes.
You can visit a new exhibition to find out the full story and at the same time take in the scenes that Constable painted. Discover Flatford Mill, now a Field Studies Centre where you can stand and admire the same scene of The Haywain that John Constable painted. Nearby Bridge Cottage is owned by the National Trust and a great place to stop for some light refreshments and take in the views of Constable Country, as well as enjoy the RSPB’s wildlife garden.
For lots more ideas about what to do in Constable Country visit www. nationaltrust.org.uk/flatford
EATING AND DRINKING
Boathouse Restaurant is a stylish waterside spot with modern menus. www.dedhamboathouse.com
The Sun Inn has been a watering hole for villagers and resting post for travellers for centuries. An ideal spot for a pint of craft beer, a meal using fine East Anglian produce and a good night’s sleep.
Le Talbooth, established in 1952, serves elegant British food in a great location beside the River Stour. www.milsomhotels.com/le-talbooth
The Kings Head, East Bergholt, is a stylish, contemporary pub just a short walk from Flatford Mill. Great food, a full and varied wine list, draft ales, beers and ciders. www.kheb.co.uk
Hare and Hounds, East Bergholt, is a traditional pub serving traditional food. www.ebhare.co.uk
Carriers Arms, East Bergholt, family run pub with a restaurant and beer garden. www. thecarriersarms.co.uk
The Red Lion, East Bergholt, another traditional pub and lovely place to end a walk in this area witha drink and great food.
Lovely Dedham. Photo: Barry Pullen
The river at Dedham. Photo: Barry Pullen