My birthday falls at the beginning of September but last autumn, as we were very busy during that week we decided to put off any celebration or outing until later. A whole month later we found we had the time, and the weather had improved enough for a trip to Flatford Mill in the Dedham Vale.
Flatford Mill is owned by the National Trust and looking at their website we saw that we need not book a slot to visit but, as parking space is limited we thought we would set off fairly early. The weather forecast was for rain in the afternoon but the morning was glorious with plenty of sunshine.
We live in North Suffolk in the Waveney Valley and Flatford Mill is in the south of the county on the River Stour near the border with the county of Essex. If you click on the link just below you will see a map of Suffolk. Near the top of the map to the right of centre are the towns of Bungay, Halesworth and Harleston. We live in-between and almost equi-distant from those three towns. At the bottom of the map in the centre you will see the town of Sudbury and to the right of that is Dedham Vale.
Many of you will recognise the name of the place we visited for my birthday treat. Some of you may have been there already. Flatford Mill was owned by the painter John Constable’s father and John was born in East Bergholt, a village on the River Stour. It is a short walk down a fairly steep winding, wooded lane from the village to the mill.
We wandered round the outside of the mill and over the bridge to the other side of the river.
We found the lock which has recently been restored.
We also found the rear of the mill buildings and the mill pool.
We re-crossed the bridge and walked back down towards the mill, admiring the brick and timber buildings.
After our lunch we sat outside the mill in the sunshine.
It was satisfying to sit looking at a view that Constable looked at every day when he lived in that building and had also included in many of his paintings such as The Mill Stream, The Hay Wain and The White Horse.
Above are three slightly different views of Willy Lott’s House as seen from outside the mill. We then walked down the lane towards the house to get a closer view.
We then thought we would walk across the water meadows to Dedham which is just into Essex. Dedham was also painted by Constable and we could see the church tower in the distance. I have seen this same church tower every time I have travelled down the A12 on my way to London.
As you can see from the sky in these photos, it was looking more and more like rain so we reluctantly turned round and made our way back to Flatford. The water meadows were more water than meadow, thanks to the very wet weather we had had during September and we would have had great difficulty getting to Dedham dryshod. The last two photos above show Dedham church tower.
We had a last look at the Stour and then went home in the rain.