Walk D: Dedham, Flatford, East Bergholt Circular
A circular route exploring three key locations for Constable's formative years.
Dedham, Flatford, East Bergholt Circular
We will meet at the Mill Lane Car Park in Dedham, and start our walk by contemplating the mezzotint process at the site of Constable’s depiction of Dedham Mill, which developed over multiple stages. You can view the high resolution examples in Cambridge Digital Library.
We then trace the course of the Stour downstream to the location of another water mill at the site of Flatford. London was the destination for the flour and corn produced at these mills, transported in the Constable firm’s barges via the estuary at Mistley on the east coast.
Constable would have been familiar with this route since childhood, as he walked to school in Dedham. In Constable’s time the towpath between these locations switched from bank to bank, as it crossed into territory of multiple adjacent landowners. Horses had to be trained to leap onto special platforms on the barges and stay steady while they were carried across the river.
After exploring “River Stour” scene at Flatford, we will make our way past the iconic Willy Lott’s House and up to the site of a windmill that once stood on on East Bergholt Common. In his youth, John worked in this mill, watching the sky and learning to understand cloud patterns.
In addition to looking at the “Spring” view, we’ll read and discuss Constable’s text on this location written around 1833-35 for a later edition of ‘English Landscape’ before we head into East Bergholt for a lunch break.
On the west side of East Bergholt, we will view the site of ‘Autumnal Sunset’ which looks towards Stratford St Mary, showing the path used by farm workers. East Bergholt’s Vale Farm appears in the dip at the right.
We will then make our way back down into the valley and along the northern bank of the Stour towards Dedham, finishing back at the Mill Lane Car Park.
In addition to the three main views we will be looking at, in the route map below there are additional pinpoint links to extra views and some historical aerial photography that reveals features in some of the locations.
Nature! enchanting Nature! in whose form And lineaments divine I trace a hand That errs not, and find raptures still renew'd, Is free to all men - universal prize.
The Task, Book III ─ The Garden, William Cowper, 1785