Let’s start off with one of our favourite places in England and an area near where Elaine grew up. Dedham Vale has been classified an ‘Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty’ (AONB) with importance placed on conserving its landscape. The vale is located on the Essex-Suffolk border around the River Stour, surrounded by charming villages, rolling farmland, meadows and woods. The area is commonly known as ‘Constable Country’ after John Constable, the famous artist who was born in the area and made it famous in his paintings. Thanks to its AONB status, the local countryside has changed very little since Constable’s life time around the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century, in fact it’s very reminiscent of ‘Wind in the Willows’ too!
Dedham Vale as captured by John Constable
Our favourite part of Dedham Vale is the hamlet of Flatford where Constable’s family owned a mill. It was the inspiration for some of his best paintings. Walking along the river is like stepping back through time, it’s like walking in one his iconic paintings that perfectly capture the landscape. Incidentally, you can view Constable’s paintings at the exhibition in Bridge Cottage, whilst exhibitions by contemporary artists can be viewed in the nearby Boat House Gallery. One of the loveliest walks is to continue through the rolling meadows to Dedham village, there are several panoramic views (and lots of cows!) along the way so take a camera or a picnic on a sunny day. Once in Dedham we highly recommend you check out Sir Alfred Munnings Art Museum, for a very personal look at another famous painter’s home. Finish off the day with a delicious meal at the Sun Inn, a traditional English pub.