Saturday, 9 May 2015

East Bergholt and Flatford Mill

Back to those lovely early spring days the bf and I spent in Suffolk and Essex.
After the church at Stratford St Mary we headed east down the Stour valley to East Bergolt and Flatford Mill.  It is the association with the artist John Constable that makes the valley of the Stour, know at this point as 'Dedham Vale', and marketed as 'Constable Country', famous and a place of pilgrimage to tourists.  It has however a deep intrinsic beauty of its own.  A beauty, and an associational, emotional value, that caused Constable to paint this, to him, familiar environment. For Constable was a local lad, born in East Berholt, his father a miller and owner of Flatford Mill; and it is the small, almost commonplace view from in front of Flatford Mill that he depicted in perhaps his most famous painting: 'The Haywain'.   And I suppose, it is these associations that may have given the area some added protection from development and industrialization.  East Bergolt itself is a large somehow sprawling village.  Quite attractive.  The church is large, late Medieval, another wool church.  It is remarkable architecturally because the west tower has never been finished but left as a ruin, and the bells are hung in a strange but rather beautiful ground-level bell cage on the north side of the churchyard. In the village is Constable's studio.  Flatford Mill itself, along with Willy Lott's Cottage and another property which forms the visitor centre, is owned by the National Trust, and has an intrinsic beauty that, one would have hoped, would have preserved it from demolition regardless of its nation, cultural importance.

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