True Constable country, Dedham is frequently considered one of England’s most beautiful villages – particularly for its idyllic water meadows on the edges of the River Stour.
Positioned on the border between Essex and Suffolk, it was here that John Constable – Britain’s greatest landscape artist – was schooled and found his muse. The scenery in and around Dedham featured in many of his later paintings, including his famous paintings of Willy Lott’s cottage and Flatford Mill, which is just over a mile downstream from Dedham. Dedham is also famed for inspiring the work of renowned horse painter Sir Alfred Munnings, whose property in the village (Castle House) now contains a gallery of his work and his studio.
With a cluster of houses gathered around the church, Dedham is quaint and picturesque. The High Street is charming and boasts many Georgian townhouses alongside timber-framed properties. There is a selection of old inns and a number of well-preserved buildings including Sherman’s Hall, a Georgian-fronted townhouse, which is now Grade I listed and managed by The National Trust, as well as a magnificent 15th century church built from the wealth of the medieval cloth industry.
The village is home to a selection of wonderful tea houses, restaurants and pubs. In the heart of Dedham, The Sun Inn has been a watering hole for villagers and a resting post for travellers for centuries, and is now the perfect location to indulge in food influenced by season, locally grown and convivially served.
With largely unspoilt English countryside, Dedham Vale and the Stour Valley are an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and as such, there is no shortage of ways to enjoy the area. Boats can be hired to explore the area from the waterways or you can explore the wonders of the nearby Beth Chatto Gardens, which were developed from wasteland in the 1960s and now offer a beautiful informal garden.
It goes without saying that there is no end of ways to enjoy the walks that wind around the splendid countryside, including a popular three-mile circular walk between Dedham and Flatford. You can also experience the surrounding villages with walks that take you into Flatford, Manningtree, East Bergholt and Statford St Mary. For shorter trips, adjoining the village are two more hamlets of Lamb Corner and The Heath, both with their own delightful pubs, cottages and shops.
Follow in the footsteps of the greats and seek out your own inspiration within the area of Dedham.