I’ve been wanting to go to Flatford for some time. Run by the National Trust, Flatford is where the artist John Constable (1776-1837) painted approximately five of his works near the Flatford Mill. I happen to like Constable’s work and was intrigued by the gallery and the locations of his works. Along with the gallery and the scenery, Flatford also has the Bridge Cottage that people can tour as well as several walks and their tea room.
John Constable was born in nearby East Bergholt. His father owned Flatford Mill and several others according to the information on the site. He eventually married Maria Bicknell and moved to London, leaving the family mills to be taken over by his younger brother upon the death of his father.
Many of his works are set in Dedham Vale, which is the area surrounding Flatford, and represent a major contribution the Romantic movement of the time.
Driving to Flatford isn’t difficult, by any means, but eventually you reach a one-way single road carriage way that leads you to the car park. The entrance is quite close and once you are inside, a RPSB wildlife garden and the gallery are the first attractions.
We opted to view the exhibition first, which is a great deal of infographics and large prints of his work. We then toured the Bridge Cottage and crossed the bridge and took the walk down past the locks before we turned around and walked the other main trail that takes you past the Flatford Mill and the site of the famous painting “The Hay Wain” as well as several other cottages and buildings that existed in Constable’s day.
The site of “The Hay Wain” was fascinating by how much was actually the same from Constable’s day to ours. Obviously the trees are different, but the house to the side and so much is still the same.
After, we stopped into the tea room for a lite bite to eat and something to drink. We usually love the tea room, but found this one had no gluten-free offerings unlike most of the other tea rooms, which was a bit of a disappointment.
Our last stop was the RPSB Wildlife garden, that was full of colour, interesting, and beautiful, though I think the younger children enjoyed it more than us. It was still nice and had a great deal of educational bits on how to promote wildlife in your own garden.
Flatford is a gorgeous area if you are keen on hiking some lovely trails and for scenery. Dogs were all over the property and a few had a ball swimming in the River Stour and playing as well, so if you enjoy bringing your dog, then it’s a great place for it. There are also boat tours and row boats to rent. My son wanted to do the rowboat, but I didn’t realise how much it would cost, so be warned there is a £10 deposit on a row boat and then it’s £5 per half-hour.
Those who are interested in seeing Constable’s work might want to plan a trip to the National Gallery to see “The Hay Wain” or another gallery displaying his work since there isn’t any of that at Flatford.
National Trust site on Flatford: https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/flatford