Flatford is a hamlet on the southern edge of the parish of East Bergholt in Suffolk. The parish is just over 3000 acres and was established in Anglo Saxon times. It was divided into four manors with Old Hall Manor the principal manor containing part of Flatford hamlet. It is recorded in the Domesday Book of 1084 as the royal parish of ‘Bercolt’, it being held as the personal property of the king. East Suffolk is mainly an agricultural area and, until the mid 16th century, was very involved with cloth making.
Flatford is an area of outstanding natural beauty, famous for its historical connections with John Constable RA. Constable was born in nearby East Bergholt. He spent his childhood in Suffolk where his father owned Flatford Water Mill, East Bergholt Windmill and two sea-going barges transporting goods between Mistley Wharf and London. On this website you can find out more about John Constable and his life at Flatford as a child and young man. You can learn about his parents, brothers and sisters, how he struggled as an artist, how he fell in love, his large family and tragic death of his young wife. In a letter to his close friend John Fisher, Constable said ‘I should paint my own places best’. John Constable knew Flatford in the Dedham Vale best.
Discover John Constable’s places through his paintings of his childhood home including:
- Flatford Mill – Grade 1 listed watermill
- Willy Lott’s House – Grade 1 listed building
- Valley Farm – Grade 1 listed building
- Bridge Cottage – Grade 2 listed building
Constable’s most famous landscape is The Haywain which depicts horses and a vehicle crossing the mill pond at Flatford Mill with Willy Lott’s House in full view. The landscapes Constable painted are much the same today as they were then, unspoiled and beautifully maintained by a variety of organisations including the National Trust, River Stour Trust, the Field Studies Council, RSPB and the Environment Agency.
If you wish to visit Flatford please click on the National Trust website below where you will find directions and full information as to what you can see and do there.
Please note: there is no public access to the inside of Flatford Mill, Willy Lott’s House, Haybarn Cottage or Valley Farm.
In the production of this web site the sources include:
- The Suffolk Stour by A.J.R. Waller
- The Essex and Suffolk River Stour Navigation by John Marriage
- The River Stour Navigation Company by J.S. Hull (Suffolk Institute of Archaeology 1972)
- Journal of the Institution of Water Engineers, 1971
- Essex and Suffolk Water
- Suffolk Record Office
- Joyce Baker
- River Stour Trust
- National Trust
- Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings