TourSuffolk

Dedham Vale

Welcome to Constable Country!

An Introduction to Dedham Vale and Flatford in Suffolk

Flatford Mill
River Stour
Willy Lotts Cottage
Flatford Mill
Dedham Vale
You will find Dedham Vale to the west of Ipswich, sitting on the River Stour and full of farms and meadows. If you're thinking that this landscape would make for some beautiful paintings, you're not the only one. In the 1800s this green corner of the country caught the eye of John Constable, a man many now consider to be England's greatest ever painter. He famously painted local scenes, including the cottages around Flatford Mill. The landscape's criss-crossed with footpaths, so after you have explored places like Flatford, it's easy to set off and explore the valley more thoroughly. Perhaps by following in the artists footsteps you'll fully appreciate the sounds, shapes and colours that inspired him so strongly.
There are many dog walking footpaths that criss-cross Dedham Vale!
Children may like to hire a rowing boat at Flatford.

Dedham Vale District Map

Dedham Vale Map


Dedham Vale and Flatford Guided Picture Tour


We start our tour of Dedham Vale at Flatford and the famous view over Willy Lott's Cottage. This view must be one of the most popular to be captured on camera and the one pictured on Constable's painting 'The Haywain'.
Willy Lotts Cottage
Willy Lott's Cottage at Flatford
Willy Lotts House
Willy Lott's House
The Haywain
'The Haywain' by John Constable (sourced from Wikimedia, who have identified it as being in the public domain)

John Constable was was born in East Bergholt in June 1776. His father was a wealthy corn merchant and the owner of Flatford Mill. John spent his early years sketching the surrounding countryside, which later became a major subject for his paintings. By the early 19th century and inspired by painters like Thomas Gainsborough, Constable set out his desire to become a landscape painter, but in order to make a living, he had to settle for portraits in his early career. He painted his finest landscape paintings between 1816 and 1830, including Boat Building near Flatford Mill (1816), Flatford Mill (1817), The Haywain (1821), View on the Stour near Dedham (1822), The Cornfield (1826) and Dedham Vale (1828). John Constable died, aged 60 in March 1837. He is buried with his wife (and later their children) in the graveyard of St John-at-Hampstead, Hampstead.

Flatford Mill, is a gorgeous red brick watermill with plants crawling up its walls, sitting on the River Stour, among the farms and meadows of Dedham Vale. Constable's family owned the mill, so he came here often. As well as painting it, he'd use it as a base from which to capture other subjects. It's from this viewpoint that he created The Haywain, arguably one of the best British paintings in history. Today, the mill is a private residence, but visitors can walk by and admire the views.
Flatford Mill
Flatford Mill
Flatford Mill
Flatford Mill from across the water
Flatford Mill
Residents Only! at Flatford Mill

Dedham Vale is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, situated on the Suffolk border with Essex. The rural landscape is dominated by the river Stour, which winds its way inland from its estuary at Manningtree, through East Bergholt, where John Constable was born. The area contains picture postcard villages, connected by winding country lanes and lots of footpaths, offering fine rural walks.
Dedham Vale
Dedham Vale
Flatford Bridge Cottage
Flatford Bridge Cottage
River Stour
Rowing a boat on the River Stour


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