Departing the pier on the coast of the great North Sea this morning you will find yourself in some of the most beautiful countryside in England. Travel through the ancient Saxon county of Essex, where history leaps to life in an unspoiled and charming corner of England.
Captured in paintings by Constable, the Suffolk-Essex border features timbered houses, moated manors, and fine church towers. Travel across the open countryside and into the beautiful Dedham Vale—Constable Country, where the great landscape painter John Constable was born in 1776.
Constable was always inspired by the place where he was born and he spent years filling sketchbooks with local material that he called upon later to immortalise in his famous pictures, and in later life he returned regularly to those haunting childhood scenes. From the gate-post of Willy Lott's cottage, Constable captured the rustic scene across the old mill pond, depicted in 'The Haywain', probably the most well-known of all his paintings.
In the sleepy, unspoilt village of Flatford the serenity of the early 18th century mill building is reflected among the wildlife activity in the little mill pond. Enjoy a walk along a gently sloping path with a few steps to the center of this rural hamlet with its unchanging scenery of willows, shimmering meadows and winding streams. Visit a 16th century thatched cottage beside the river, which houses a permanent exhibition of Constable's work, including several showing the delightful 'Bridge Cottage'. See nearby Flatford Mill, instantly recognizable from Constable’s work.
Continue along the country roads to Dedham—the attractive village where Constable went to school. In High Street, stop to admire the 16th-century St Mary's Church, and see Sherman Hall dating back to the 16th century. The return drive to Harwich shows many more quiet country landscapes.