Dedham Vale and Constable Country

/Dedham Vale and Constable Country
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Itinerary: Explore Constable Country on Foot

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Itinerary Go straight to the printable itinerary (pdf) for Constable Country on Foot here: Itinerary - Explore Constable Country on Foot or read a bit more about the area below. Constable's Country The images are well known across the globe and it's the gently rolling countryside; the lush green of the trees and fields; the scenes of farm workers with their animals, tools and haycarts and the wide, cloud-filled skies that make John Constable's paintings so instantly recognisable. Born in East Bergholt in 1776, Constable grew up in what was even during his lifetime known as 'Constable's Country' in the Dedham Vale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. He had a deep love of the area, citing it as the inspiration which sustained him creatively throughout his life. He said: “Still I should paint my own places best; painting is with me but another word for feeling, and I associate "my careless boyhood" with all that lies on the banks of the Stour; those scenes made me a painter, and I am grateful...” Constable's Paintings As a young boy, he made the daily trek from his home in East Bergholt, across the fields to school in the picturesque village of Dedham. These walks inspired a love of nature and many years later he would come back to those paths and meadows and feature them in his art work. The Cornfield (1826) for example is thought to be set on a pathway between East Bergholt and Dedham. The painting was actually called The Drinking Boy by Constable himself (if you look closely, you can see a young lad lying on his front, drinking from the river), its name having been changed by the painting's subsequent owners. The [...]

Outdoor Hire Centres. Bikes, Canoes & Camping Equipment for Hire

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Outdoor Hire Centres offering a range of outdoor activity equipment for hire from bikes and canoes/kayaks to pedal karts and  camping kit. These are available to hire for as long as needed from a few hours to a whole day, advice or several weeks. Equipment can be collected from one of the Hire Centres or it can be delivered to your home, ed holiday cottage, hotel or campsite and collected again. Contact The Gattinetts, Hadleigh Road, East Bergholt, CO7 6QT Open by arrangement,  please phone in advance. T: 01206 700 707 W: www.outdoorhirecentres.com

Church of St Mary the Virgin, East Bergholt

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The painter John Constable was born in the village of East Bergholt and one of his finest works is of the church porch. The house where he was born was destroyed in a fire, but a plaque in the main street shows where the house once stood. Members of John Constable's family are buried in the churchyard as family friend, Willy Lott, made famous because of John Constable's painting 'Willy Lott's Cottage' in Flatford. Cardinal Wolsey was to finance the tower but his fall from grace prevented it being built and a temporary bell cage was erected in the churchyard. Some 500 years on, you can still see the bells being rung on a Sunday morning. They are the heaviest ring of five in the world. Group visits are welcome here and refreshments can be arranged. Contact Church of St Mary the Virgin, The Street, East Bergholt, Suffolk C07 6TA T: 01206 392646 W: www.constablecountrychurches.co.uk

Flatford Mill Field Studies Centre

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What better place is there to attend a creative course, than Flatford Mill in Suffolk, where artist John Constable gained so much of his inspiration? Flatford Mill was owned by Constable's father and John grew up there, walking across the fields from Flatford to Dedham to attend school each day. It is the gentle landscapes around the River Stour and throughout the Dedham Vale (an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty), which inspired him to become a painter, and you can follow in his footsteps! Flatford Mill Field Studies Centre offers short courses in painting, natural history, photography and environmental themes. Course are residential or you can attend as a day student. The surroundings of the field studies centre are beautiful and easily accessible by train from Manningtree Station if you are coming from Norwich, Colchester or London. The National Trust own Bridge Cottage in Flatford and a tea room and gift shop and there is also the RSPB wildlife garden, so plenty to do for nature lovers and those who enjoy unspoilt landscapes. Contact Field Studies Council, Flatford Mill, East Bergholt CO7 6UL T: 0845 330 7368 (local rate calls) W: www.field-studies-council.org/flatfordmill

Stoke by Nayland

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Stoke By Nayland is a pretty village between Sudbury and Colchester and was a favourite with artist John Constable. He was a frequent visitor there and made many sketches and paintings of the area. He was particularly fond of painting the church in the village and the imposing church tower features in many of his works. Stoke By Nayland is in the Dedham Vale (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty) and is on the edge of the area often referred to as 'Constable Country'. There are two exceptionally good pubs in the village; The Crown and The Angel as well as a village shop, lots of lovely walks and several places to stay. Post Office General store/village shop Tea rooms, restaurants, pubs Holiday accommodation

East Bergholt

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East Bergholt lies in the heart of the Dedham Vale, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the area often referred to as 'Constable Country'. It is the birthplace of John Constable and you can still see (from the outside) his studio and the place where his house once stood. His birthplace was destroyed by fire, but a plaque on some iron railings shows the place where it was. Although the village of East Bergholt is one of the largest in area, the centre of it is very small with a grocery store and post office and a couple of other shops, pubs and a tea room. It's also very picturesque. There is the Old Hall, a large building with over 60 rooms, which is now a small community of people who live together and farm the land, growing organic produce. In the past, this building has been at various times, a nunnery, a manor house, army barracks and a friary. The Church of St Mary the Virgin is well worth a visit and is open to the public for teas. It was built in the 15th and 16th centuries and has an interesting history. It famously has no tower to house its bells, because Cardinal Wolsey's fall from grace halted construction of the church in 1530 and so a 'temporary' wooden structure was built for the bells until funds could be raised to build the tower.  Funds were never raised however, and so the tower was never built.  The wooden structure still stands and still houses the heaviest bells that are rung by hand, rather than ropes and wheels. The five bells have a combined weight of 4.25 tons and are still in regular use. Although [...]

The Sir Alfred Munnings Art Museum, Dedham

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The Sir Alfred Munnings Art Museum in Castle House, Dedham in the heart of Constable Country and the Dedham Vale (AONB), is the home where Sir Alfred Munnings KCVO lived for 40 years. Sir Alfred Munnings is most well known for his equestrian art, but he also painted a wide range of other subjects and he was an accomplished sculptor. His home showcases his paintings, drawings and sketches representing his life's work and visitors can wander around the house and gardens. There is also a fascinating little studio, where he worked and his paintbrushes and other things have been left as if he has just stepped outside for a bit of fresh air. It's very atmospheric and gives some insight into the artist. Castle House and grounds are open to the public from April – end October  Wednesday to Sunday and Bank Holiday Mondays.  Please check the website to confirm opening times before your visit.  There is a small cafe selling a good selection of homemade cakes and light lunches and many events take place at the Sir Alfred Munnings Art Museum throughout the year. These events including painting workshops, children's events, Christmas events and even demonstrations of how to ride side saddle! Contact The Sir Alfred Munnings Art Museum, Castle House, Dedham, CO7 6AZ T: 01206 322127 W: www.siralfredmunnings.co.uk   Top photo ©David Burton | bottom photo ©Showcapture Save

Bridge Cottage, Flatford

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Set in the glorious landscape of the Dedham Vale (AONB), the 16th century Bridge Cottage houses an exhibition about the life and work of John Constable. There are guided walks in the summer with National Trust guides who will show you the sites of some of Constable's most famous paintings. You can walk up the lane to look at Flatford Mill (not open to general public, but you can attend a course there on art, conservation and photography) and to see where the Hay Wain and Willy Lott's Cottage were painted. The area is remarkably unchanged since the time John Constable lived there and you can see why he loved the area so much and found so much inspiration here. You can row a boat along the River Stour to the nearby village of Dedham, in the summer or you can take the same route that the young John Costable took when he walked across the fields every day to school. For opening times of Bridge Cottage, please visit the National Trust website. Contact National Trust, Bridge Cottage, Flatford Lane, Flatford, East Bergholt, CO7 6UL T: 01206 298260 W: www.nationaltrust.org.uk Additional information Wheelchair access, Electric buggy available, National Trust tearoom and shop

Flatford Wildlife Garden (RSPB), Flatford

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A beautiful wildlife garden developed by the RSPB to show how we can all make our gardens more wildlife-friendly and beautiful at the same time. Admission is free and volunteers are on hand to answer your gardening questions. The garden is in the hamlet of Flatford, where painter John Constable lived and painted many of his most famous works, including The Hay Wain and Willy Lott's Cottage, which are just a short walk down Flatford Lane. Also in Flatford, is Bridge Cottage (National Trust), the Flatford Field Studies Centre and you can take a boat trip on the River Stour as well as lovely walks across the fields to Dedham - the same route John Constable once walked every day to get to school. Open: 29 March to 3 November everyday 10.30 am to 4.30 pm. Contact Flatford Wildlife Garden (RSPB), Flatford Lane, Flatford, East Bergholt CO7 6UL T: 01206 391153 E: stourestuary@rspb.org.uk W: www.rspb.org.uk Additional information Entrance to the garden is free although the car park at Flatford is owned by the National Trust,  so charges apply unless you are a NT member, in which case parking is free. Alternative, free parking is available a one mile walk away, in East Bergholt. There is a National Trust tea room and shop and a small exhibition in Bridge Cottage about John Constable. The Flatford Field Studies Centre (the mill where John Constable lived and worked) is not open to general public, but you can take art and environmental courses there. The Mill and Willy Lott's Cottage can both be viewed from the outside and the place where The Hay Wain was painted can also be viewed.