The Painter's Trail
Discover Colchester's surrounding area which inspired painters such as John Constable, Sir Alfred Munnings, and Thomas Gainsborough.
We recommend that you leave at least two days to properly explore the beautiful area and museums.
Day 1: Constable Country
Dedham is one of the most attractive villages in Essex and closely associated with the quintessentially English landscape painter John Constable. A free coach park is situated close to the centre of the village and is an ideal drop off point. The imposing church of St Mary the Virgin dominates the High Street and features in several of Constable's paintings. Dedham has continued to prove a magnet for painters. Just outside the village is Castle House, home of the painter Sir Alfred Munnings and now a museum dedicated to his life and work. The museum is open to groups by prior arrangement with the trustees.
The High Street also boasts other attractions; along with a number of delightful small shops you will find the Essex Rose Tearooms. Owned by famous jam company Wilkins of Tiptree, this is the perfect place to stop for morning tea or coffee, accompanied of course by scones and Wilkin's own Little Scarlet strawberry jam. Alternatively The Sun Hotel and the Marlborough Head both offer morning coffee as does the Dedham Arts and Crafts Centre.
Continue the Constable theme with lunch at the National Trust tearoom at Bridge Cottage (advance notice may be required). Flatford Mill and Willy Lott's House, immortalised in "The Haywain", can be seen from the outside and a short walk along the banks of the river Stour rewards you with views of untouched Constable landscapes. Like Dedham, Flatford welcomes huge numbers of visitors each year, so avoid the crowds by visiting at quieter, off peak periods, such as the winter or during the week.
Day 2: Sudbury and Gainsborough House
Thomas Gainsborough, best known as a portrait painter but also an accomplished landscape artist, was born in Sudbury in 1727 and like Constable drew inspiration from the surrounding countryside. His elegant town house is now open to the public who can view the most extensive collection of his work on display anywhere in the world. Works by other local artists including Constable complete this wonderful collection. Group visits to Gainsborough's House should be booked at least ten days in advance. There is no café at the museum but your group will find plenty of places for refreshment whilst taking a look around the town.