Dedham Vale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the Stour Valley is John Constable Country situated on the Suffolk and Essex border. A mecca for lovers of the English landscape painter John Constable who was born in East Bergholt in Dedham Vale in 1776, the area features many historic buildings and the recognisable Stour Valley landscape which Constable studied and painted.
The National Trust visitor centre at Flatford in beautiful Bridge House is a central focus for many visitors to Constable Country. From Flatford a gentle trail leads off to Dedham village running parallel with the River Stour. Alternatively you can opt for a boat trip or row boat hire available near the National Trust's centre in Bridge House.
The villages of Dedham Vale in Suffolk and Essex contain a wide choice of historic traditional inns serving fine ales and locally produced food. Accommodation caters for all tastes from camping and caravan parks to luxury country house hotels, holiday cottages and B&Bs.
The National Trust Visitor Centre at Flatford contains an extensive exhibition on John Constable and the Dedham Vale landscape which he studied and painted. Guides are available from the visitor centre detailing beautiful riverside trails leading to key locations which featured in Constable's river Stour paintings.
These include just up from Bridge Cottage Willy Lott's House which still survives and featured in Constable's 'The Hay Wain' (1821). Flatford Mill near Willy Lott's House has seen change since Constable's day. The Mill was owned by three generations of the Constable family in the Georgian period. Close to Flatford Mill is Valley Farm which featured in pencil drawings by Constable.
The Granary once owned by John Constable's father located near Flatford Mill has been beautifully restored and now offers bed and breakfast accommodation. Across the Stour from the National Trust Centre and Flatford Mill sits another of Constable's famously painted sites, Flatford Lock. Visitors can then choose from a selection of walking trails which branch out from Flatford hamlet through Constable country to either Manningtree or Dedham village across the border in Essex.
The popular walking trail to Dedham village from Flatford is truly to tread in the footsteps of Constable with views of beautiful Dedham Parish Church in the distance. The walk runs parallel with the river Stour and is gentle and easily done in less than an hour.