In order to protect our Intellectual Property we have copyrighted this web site. © Simon Gallup, Tamasin Davies, Peter Tonks – June 2020.
If you are disabled and have a Blue Badge, please take the left turn before the National Trust car park down Flatford Lane signposted ‘To the Field Centre’. Please drive SLOWLY because the road is narrow.
When you get to the bottom of the hill you will see a sharp turning on the left. Take this left turn and you will see spaces allocated to parking for Blue Badge holders.
You will see the ‘Welcome Kiosk’ and an information board in the far left corner of the car park where, depending on the time of day, you will be greeted by National Trust staff.
Beyond the Welcome Kiosk is a sloping path about 130 yards long which leads to the centre of Flatford. The path slopes gently to the bottom of the hill.
Most of it is fairly even but towards the bottom there are 16 steps about 3 inches high and some strong hand rails on either side.
After walking down the sloping path and navigating the last 16 steps you will come out onto a service road called Flatford Lane.
Immediately to your right you will see the RSPB Wildlife Garden
If you cross the road you will see:
- A sign inviting you to the Constable Exhibition
- Blue Badge parking spaces
Ahead of you is Bridge Cottage
Turning left at Bridge Cottage takes you to:
- the entrance to the National Trust tea room and shop
- the entrance to the Dry Dock
- the open air picnic and outside tea area
Walk on a little further and you will find
- Flatford Granary (right hand side)
- Flatford Mill (right hand side)
- Valley Farm (left hand side)
- Willy Lott’s House (straight ahead)
The total distance from Bridge Cottage to Willy Lott’s House is about 250 yards.
Don’t miss Valley Farm, which is the oldest and best quality building in Flatford.
You will find it on the left hand side of the road – almost opposite Flatford Mill.
Note: There is no public access to the Granary, the Mill, Valley Farm, Willy Lott’s House, but access to everything else is free.
Flatford Landscape Today
Situated on the north bank of the river Stour in Suffolk in the parish of East Bergholt, Flatford is a hamlet extending for approximately 300 yards along the river.
Flatford is central to the Dedham Vale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
As the name suggests, the River Stour here is flat and not as deep as other fords. However,
- the ford at Flatford was only useable when the water levels were low.
- the lowest place with a ford useable throughout the year, was actually upstream at Dedham.
The landscape around Flatford is an excellent example of a lowland English Countryside – a gently sided enclosed valley and a meandering river with flood meadows and grazing cattle.
There are also many timber framed buildings and on the sky line there are church towers, which were built at the peak of the Cloth Trade 500 years ago.
All these features are visible in John Constable’s best-known landscapes which he created 150 years ago. To this day, if you visit Flatford, you will find the locations where he sketched them – they have changed very little in all that time.
In the production of this web site some of the sources used were provided by:
Suffolk Record Office, Field Studies Archive, River Stour Trust Archive, National Trust Archive, Essex and Suffolk Water Archive, Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB), Colchester and Ipswich Museum Service, Joyce Baker Archive
Other sources include, River Stour Navigation Company by J.S. Hull, The Suffolk Stour by A.J.R. Waller, Anne Sanders – Suffolk Review, Essex & Suffolk River Stour Navigation by John Marriage, Flatford Constable Country by Ian St John, Visiting the Past by Bob Horlock