Dedham Vale

To the North of Colchester you will discover the Dedham Vale, affectionately known as Constable Country; an area of natural beauty which has inspired great English painters through the ages.

The only designated National Landscapes, (the new name for  Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty) in Essex, the Dedham Vale contains numerous scenes which inspired famous English artists including 19th Century landscape painter John Constable, 18th century artist Thomas Gainsborough and 20th Century equestrian artist Sir Alfred Munnings.

Dedham is one of the most attractive villages in Essex, and the association with John Constable is particularly close. The historic church of St Mary the Virgin dominates the High Street and features in several of Constable's paintings.

Artists continue to be inspired by the area's landscape, and the work of equestrian artist Sir Alfred Munnings is celebrated in the Munnings Art Museum, the artist's former home in the village.

You'll find a range of tea shops, country pubs and independent shops lining Dedham High Street, with the Dedham Craft Centre proving a favourite shopping destination with visitors.

The River Stour, which runs through the village is ideal for scenic walks, and most famously boating, with rowing boat hire a popular activity for tourists.

Further down the river you will discover Flatford Mill, including the iconic Willy Lott's Cottage, immortalised in Constable's most famous landscape, The Haywain.

Take a short trip away from the village and you'll discover more of Constable Country including Dedham Vale VineyardBoxted Airfield, and other scenic towns and villages including East Bergholt, Stratford St Mary, and Manningtree.

There are a number of free walking guides for Constable Country available from the Dedham Vale National Landscapes. These include the long-distance Stour Valley Path, individual guides for Dedham, Nayland and more, and shorter walks of interest. The pick of the bunch being a stroll through Dragon Country following the legend of a Dragon (or perhaps an escaped crocodile?) that roamed the vale.