Flatford has attracted an array of interesting characters who either had an influence on John Constable’s life or who became to be instrumental in saving the buildings and the landscape after Constable’s death in 1837.
We do not know if John Constable ever travelled by train (which came to the region in 1849 but to other parts of the country much earlier) but many of the ‘characters’ who had an impact on the local landscape afterwards would have done so. The poster above was produced in 1937 to celebrate 100 years since Constable’s birth.
Constable would have known some of the characters in this section, for example:
- Willy Lott, a tenant farmer whose house was a favourite subject in Constable’s paintings
- The Rev Durrand Rhudde who for seven years prevented him from marrying Rhudde’s grand daughter Maria Bicknell
- The John Dunthornes both father and son – the latter a local tradesman and amateur painter and the latter a painter who became John Constable’s assistant.
Other characters became part of Flatford Life after Constable’s death including:
- Thomas Parkington who rescued the Mill and Willy Lotts House from decay and dereliction in the 1920s and who, when he died in 1945 left the properties to the National Trust
- Leonard Richardson, a local farmer who owned Valley Farm, could not afford the repairs and restoration needed and who campaigned for years for funds to rescue and restore the building
- Sir Frederick Minter, who on hearing that Valley Farm was in a dire state and that the Society for the Protection on Ancient Buildings were unable to buy it from Leonard Richardson, funded the entire purchase and restoration costs in 1935
- Leonard’s daughters Kathleen, Sylvia and Margaret who all lived and worked at Flatford. Sylvia and Margaret Richardson opened the first Flatford Tea Gardens in the 1920s while living in a converted trolley bus that turned out to be the oldest in the world and is now a museum piece!
For more information please click on the links below or use the drop down menu.