Lying in the Dedham Vale AONB, along the border of the counties of Essex and Suffolk, Constable Country encompasses some of England’s most instantly recognisable views and includes the villages of Dedham, East Bergholt and Flatford. Due to the strong connections with John Constable, the area has affectionately become known as 'Constable Country'.
The tiny hamlet of Flatford was the source of many of Constable’s most famous works and it remains little changed since the artist lived here in the late 18th century. Take time to stroll around and enjoy the views which Constable loved and which inspired the likes of Boatbuilding (1815), Willy Lott's House (1816) and The Hay Wain (1821). Bridge Cottage is owned by the National Trust and houses an exhibition about John Constable and there is also a tea room where you can enjoy a delicious National Trust cream tea or light lunch.
From Flatford, enjoy an amble to the nearby village of East Bergholt, the birthplace of Constable. A plaque marking the site where the Constable family home once stood can be found on the black railings in the centre of the village. The Church of St. Mary the Virgin has the heaviest set of five bells (weighing 4,318 kilos) currently being rung in England and remarkably, these bells are rung by hand by applying pressure to a wooden headstock. The building of the church bell tower was never completed, and the 'temporary' bell cage, which was built in 1531 to house the bells, has been in use ever since.
Another famous resident of East Bergholt was Randolph Churchill, son of the wartime prime minister, Sir Winston Churchill.
Follow in Constable's footsteps and walk down Fen Lane in East Bergholt, alongside the River Stour to Dedham, where John attended school (reputedly at Sherman’s House, opposite the church - look out for his initials among the graffiti of past pupils). One of the views he saw along his daily route to and from school, was the inspiration behind The Cornfield (1826).
With a history spanning back as far as the Bronze Age, the stunning Church of St. Mary the Virgin, a bustling Art and Craft Centre, the Sir Alfred Munnings Art Museum and many independent shops and boutiques, as well as eateries offering everything from decadent cream teas to romantic fine dining, Dedham truly does have something for everyone.