A visit to Flatford Mill in Flatford, East Bergholt, makes for a relaxing day out for all the family. The scene has been immortalised by John Constable in his painting of The Haywain and the Mill is still recognisable. Attached to the Mill, which is a Grade 1 listed Watermill originally built in 1733, is a 17th Century miller’s cottage which is also Grade I listed.
Flatford Mill image kindly provided by the Field Studies Council (see below for information on their courses at Flatford)
The Watermill is located in the centre of Dedham Vale, a wonderfully English village close to the Essex/Suffolk border. This is part of the Dedham Vale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty so take your time to savour the area.
The Mill was once owned by John Constable’s father and Constable made the Mill and the surrounding area the subject of many of his works of art, which are now world famous. For information on Suffolk’s talented artists please see our guide to Gainsborough and Constable.
The mill is located just downstream from Bridge Cottage which is a 16th-century thatched cottage owned by the National Trust. You can enjoy an exhibition of Constable’s work here and perhaps a course too as the Cottage is leased to the Field Studies Council. The Field Studies Council is an environmental education charity committed to helping people understand and be inspired by the natural world. Established in 1943, the FSC has become internationally respected for its national network of 17 education centres.
The Flatford Centre is just an hour from London and offers visitors of all ages a unique learning environment. The rich mosaic of lowland landscapes, wildlife habitats and places of historic interest in this beautiful part of East Anglia are reflected in the Centre’s wide-ranging programme of environment and art-based courses. Over 300 residential and day activities are offered each year for people of all ages. Click on the link above to find out more about FSC’s courses at Bridge Cottage.
One of the best ways to experience the countryside that John Constable knew and loved is to take the Constable Country Walk around the picturesque Stour Valley. Follow the signposts from Flatford along the River Stour. Alternatively you could take part in one of the National Trusts daily guided walks (April-Sept) to learn more about the area and John Constable.
Alternatively between Spring & the end of October you could take a trip on the River courtesy of the River Stour Trust in Stour Trusty II. Find out more here – Flatford/Dedham River Trips with the River Stour Trust
There are a number of country pubs, restaurants and cafes in the Stour Valley and nearby at Dedham. If you want to extend your visit to Flatford there are a number of accommodation options available including –
Clockhouse Farm Caravan Park, Sudbury – a tranquil site enclosed by pretty meadows and trees with views overlooking the Stour Valley and Stoke by Nayland Hotel, Golf & Lodges.
Have you had a day out at Flatford Mill? Please send all reviews to us at [email protected].
August 2015 – from Andrew Barlow
My family and I (myself, my wife and my two teenage boys) decided to have a holiday in Suffolk this summer, as this was a place I had not been to since childhood and that my wife had never been to. An absolute must was a visit to Flatford Mill via the river path along the Stour from Dedham. I remembered a hot summer day, when I was 16 years old and my brother Paul was 18 years old. We had visited the Mill (made famous by The Hay Wain, a painting by John Constable) as my brother was to study Art History at Sussex University that September. After the visit to the Mill we decided to swim in the river. We imagined we were in the Dubonnet advertisement running on the Television at that time. It depicted French peasants of the 19th century swimming in a river accompanied by songs of the auvergne (bailero); so romantic!
On the day I visited with my family, 35 years and a generation later, the same weather hung in the air and my boys swam in the river under a twisted willow. I dipped my feet in and my wife took pictures. It was idyllic, it was perfect and the sight of Flatford Mill was beautiful, just beautiful.
My brother had died two weeks earlier at the age of 53, before his time. He had become Dr Paul Barlow, a renown art historian specialising in late Victorian art. And so this had become a special homage and a special place for me. Paul leaves behind a body of work about beauty which is made real at Flatford. The river and the Mill will always hold special meaning for me.
One of his favourite pieces of music was River Man by Nick Drake the lyrics of which include, “If he tells me all he knows, About the way his river flows ……. in summertime”