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Constable Country – an artists landscape

When you tell people you are visiting ‘Constable Country’ they know exactly where you mean. Indeed how many other artist’s have an area of the country named after them?

“As a child I remember looking in wonder at a copy of a painting my Grandmother had above her fireplace of horses and a wagon in a river. Of course I was too young at the time to realise this was a print of John Constable’s most famous ‘Haywain’ painting, nor did I realise that one day I would be lucky enough to take visitors on guided tours to the site where it was painted.

John Constable, one of this country’s most famous landscape artists, was born on 11th June 1776 in East Bergholt, Suffolk. He painted the scenes of his childhood which he said ‘made me a painter’. Today these scenes, and his paintings, have immortalised this region on the Essex/Suffolk border as ‘Constable Country’.

Churchyard at St Mary’s Church at East Bergholt, Constable country

Churchyard at St Mary’s Church at East Bergholt

There are so many Constable inspired places and attractions to visit. A Blue Badge guided tour might include:

EAST BERGHOLT – The village Constable was born in. Although his house is no longer there, a visit to St Mary’s Church is a must, particularly to see the most unusual way they ring their bells.

FLATFORD – A walk with your Guide will take you to the see the scenes of several of Constable’s paintings including ‘Boat-Building’ and the famous ‘Haywain’ site which has changed very little over the last 200 years.

DEDHAM – a pretty Essex village where Constable went to school. Georgian fronted houses line the main street, alongside old inns, tea rooms, a large arts/crafts centre and an impressive 15th Century Church.

RIVER STOUR – a navigable river that forms the divide between the Essex and Suffolk border and the Stour is the working river which features in many of Constable’s paintings.

Willy Lott’s House at Flatford. Constable countryside

Willy Lott’s House at Flatford

However, our artistic landscape on what we call the Stour Valley is not just confined to John Constable. We truly have been an artist’s inspiration here and a couple of former homes of other famous painters are now museums including:

ALFRED MUNNINGS – the equestrian artist lived for over forty years in Dedham until his death in 1959. His home in Dedham, Castle House, is now the Munnings Art Museum.
THOMAS GAINSBOROUGH –  renowned for his portraits but was happiest painting landscapes, was born in 1727 in nearby Sudbury, Suffolk. His birthplace is now the Gainsborough’s House Museum.

Constable, Gainsborough and Munnings were all inspired by this beautiful scenery, and we are sure you will be too”.

Clare Partner is a Blue Badge Guide working in the East of England. She has over 20 years of experience.