Constable Country Tour ReviewBy
When I was growing up in Africa, we had two paintings by John Constable in the lounge. I guess Mum and Dad liked the reminder of the English countryside. Now I’m back in the UK I decided to explore “Constable Country” for myself, and was lucky enough to find a local to help me.
Tour By Taxi offer private tours around the Essex / Suffolk border area. Having previously experienced tours which whisk you around at breakneck speed, I was delighted to find I could set the pace to suit me and spend time enjoying this beautiful area.
We started off in Dedham Village, a charming place for a stroll in the spring sunshine. The area benefited from the wool trade in the 15th and 16th centuries, and there is a wealth of architecture to admire. The Parish Church appears in many of Constable’s paintings and is worth a visit, particularly to see one of only three Altarpieces painted by Constable.
After a short stop at Stratford St. Mary, with a visit to the site of Constable’s ‘Stratford Mill’ painting, we took a break for lunch in East Bergholt. We lingered here for a while, seeing Constable’s early studio, Moss Cottage, and the site of his childhood home, East Bergholt House. Just down the road is the Church of St. Mary the Virgin with a highly unusual bell cage. This was built as a temporary measure to house the church bells whilst the church tower was built, but this was never completed. We also found the Constable family tomb and the grave of Willy Lott, whose home was captured for posterity in ‘The Haywain’. The stained glass windows are also worth spending a few minutes over, especially the panel dedicated to Constable with a cheeky depiction of the baby Jesus having his portrait painted.
For our final destination we headed to Flatford Mill, where Constable painted what is possibly his most recognised picture, ‘the Haywain’, as well as ‘Flatford Mill’ and ‘Boat Building near Flatford’. The National Trust offer guided tours , and there are boats for hire, but we decided to continue with our “take your time tourism” and enjoyed wandering along the river soaking up the scenery. It’s remarkably unchanged since Constable’s time, and long may it stay that way.
Tour by Taxi can reached via their website at www.tourbytaxi.co.uk