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Dedham Vale, Essex | Suffolk

Dedham Vale
Dedham Vale was designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (ANOB) which includes the region around the River Stour between Manningtree and Bures . The village of Dedham in Essex, which gives the area its name, lies within the ANOB.

Situated on the border between Essex and Suffolk, Dedham Vale is in an area often referred to as ' Constable Country ' after the famous British landscape artist John Constable who painted many scenes in the area. These paintings include 'Dedham Vale' painted in 1802 and now in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London . Constable and the places he painted are so famous and important to the area that some power lines and pylons have even been removed in places so as not to spoil the original view as seen in the paintings. Constable recognised the beauty and inspirational nature of the area and said; "I associate my careless boyhood with all that lies on the banks of the Stour. Those scenes made me a painter."

Those aspiring to follow in Constable's brushstrokes can visit Flatford Mill where the Field Studies Council organise a variety of activities and courses, both residential and non-residential, that include art and painting. Flatford Mill is home to some buildings that featured in Constable paintings, including the Mill building itself and Willy Lott's House. The centre also provides courses and activities to help discover and understand the environment which include wonderful courses such as 'Bird Songs and Calls'.

Huge areas of East Anglia's traditional grasslands have already been drained and ploughed over to make way for arable farming, thus destroying for ever the delicate natural order that had existed there for centuries. This makes the hedgerows and wildflower meadows of Dedham Vale even more precious and definitely worth preserving. The beautiful countryside in the region is enhanced by the many sunken narrow country lanes and characteristic timber-frame and thatch houses.

There are plenty of activities to be found in the Dedham area, which can be quite busy with tourists in high season. The Dedham Vale Family Farm is a popular attraction, especially with the young. The farm features rare breeds and has animal stroking areas, paddocks and a play area.

Anglers favour the Stour, as they have done for centuries. The stretch of the river along the Bures to Stour Valley Path has been stocked with fish to offer the angler plenty of Carp, Chub and Perch.

More British Natural features?

Other Essex Naturals

Thames Estuary
River Colne
Rainham Marshes
Lee Valley
Northey Island
Copt Hall Marshes
Mersea Island
Foulness Island

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Be thine own palace, or the world's thy jail. - John Donne
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On this day:
Battle of Ashingdon - 1016, Chewing Gum first goes on sale - 1911, BBC Formed - 1922
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