Caring for the Dedham Vale

The River Stour at Flatford

The Dedham Vale – also known as Constable Country - forms part of the lower valley of the River Stour on the Essex and Suffolk border.

No formal boundary exists for this small area but it can be described as the valley between Stratford St Mary in the west and Flatford in the east.  Its pastoral scenes, with cattle grazing the riverside meadows, old hedgerows and willow trees, are world famous as the setting used by artist John Constable for many of his paintings.

The National Trust’s area of ownership is within the Dedham Vale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, which covers approximately 22,230 acres (9,000 ha). The National Trust owns 234.5 hectares of the Dedham Vale (2.34% of the AONB). Most of the holding is comprised of farmland, 203 hectares of which is grassland and 21 hectares is cropped. There is also 6.5 hectares of wood pasture, 3 hectares of woodland and 1 hectare of scrub. It also has a number of vernacular buildings; most notably in the hamlet at Flatford where Willy Lott’s House, Flatford Mill, Valley Farm, Bridge Cottage and the Dry Dock have been acquired by the Trust since 1946.  A further 4,179 acres (1691 ha or 18.79% of the AONB) of private estates is subject to restrictive covenants in favour of the National Trust. 

Currently Fen Bridge is closed and Dedham Bridge will be closed between 12 Oct to 29 Nov 2020 for repairs. The estate map shows a route that can be walked by following the solid red line.
Download the Flatford Estate Map.

The role of The National Trust in the Dedham Vale is to enable traditional mixed farming to continue, to preserve key aspects of the working landscape, and provide public understanding of the importance of Constable and that landscape.  The relative fragility of this landscape must be balanced with a sustainable level of access for residents and visitors.