If you’re looking to explore Constable Country then Flatford is the ideal place to start. Flatford is a small hamlet which lies in the heart of the beautiful Dedham Vale close to East Bergholt, in Suffolk. It is most famous for Flatford Mill, Willy Lott’s Cottage and Bridge Cottage. Subsequently immortalised in the paintings of John Constable.

Flatford boasts stunning countryside scenery is mixed with a rich history of art and culture.

This little corner of England is know as ‘Constable Country’ after the famous painter. John Constable found inspiration in the area for some of his artwork, after his parents bought Flatford Mill back in the 1700s.

This charming hamlet was the inspiration for some of John Constable’s most famous pictures. For example, the Hay Wain or Boatbuilding near Flatford Mill among many others.

Wandering beside the River Stour or looking at Flatford Mill and Willy Lott’s House you can feel as if you are actually walking through one of his paintings. The mill and Willy’s Lott’s house now belong to the Field Studies Council and are used as student accommodation.

There are records of a mill being at Flatford written in the Domesday book which dates back nearly 1000 years ago. William The Conquerer ‘surveyed’ the whole of England and Wales in 1087 to determine land taxes across the country and the findings were recorded in the Domesday Book.

There is a lot to see and do in Constable Country;

Flatford receives 250,000 visitors a year, the buildings surrounding Flatford Mill are only open to the public on rare occasions so it’s not a typical guided tour attraction. It is very much focused on the Constable connection and the nature side of the area. It’s very family (and pet) friendly, making it a great option if exploring ideas for days out in Suffolk!

The only building that is open to look around inside is Bridge Cottage. This was once a toll collection point for the Flatford Lock. The cottage is currently set up to replicate how it would have looked back in the 1880’s. It’s crazy to think that at one point there were 2 families living in this small space!

There is a small tea room and gift shop next to bridge cottage including a tiny little ‘book nook’, a place where you can donate old books or buy a second hand one for a suggested donation of £1 (an honesty box hangs on the door). All donations are put back towards conserving the Flatford area.

Flatford is also home to an RSPB (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds) Wildlife Garden. Its aim is to teach people how to make their gardens more friendly for wildlife.

An Evening of charm and beauty

What better way to appreciate the charm and beauty of this small hamlet, particularly in the quiet of the early morning and evening, than to come and visit for a while.

Dedham and East Bergholt are within easy reach and offer a range of pubs and restaurants. Evening rowing boat hire from the Granary by arrangement.
Flatford Mill is on the River Stour close to the Suffolk-Essex border.

The Centre buildings, particularly the Mill and Willy Lott’s House, are instantly recognisable since they feature in many paintings by John Constable. It offers visitors of all ages a much sought-after sense of tranquillity to complement a unique learning environment.

The rich mosaic of lowland landscapes, wildlife habitats and places of historic interest in this beautiful part of East Anglia are all reflected in the Centre’s wide-ranging programme of environment and art-based courses.

The mill, rebuilt in 1753, was owned by the father of the artist John Constable and appears in a number of his paintings, as do the medieval Valley Farm and Willy Lott’s Cottage, the lock of 1766 and the now restored dry dock. One of Constable’s most famous pictures, “The Haywain”, shows a waggon crossing the ford over the mill stream.

From Flatford footpaths lead to Dedham, East Bergholt and Manningtree Station. Rowing boats can be hired in the summer season.

Abraham Constable left Flatford Mill to their nephew Golding, John Constable’s father. Golding Constable owned flour mills at Flatford and Dedham and a windmill at East Bergholt. He also ran a string of lighters (commercial barges) along the River Stour running between Sudbury and Mistley Wharf and two sea-going Thames barges running between Mistley Wharf and London.

How to get to Flatford Mill

Flatford almost exactly on the border between Essex and Suffolk. Part of the River Stour makes up the border between the counties, but actually falls into Suffolk.It’s located just off the A12, just outside East Bergholt, around 20 minutes from Ipswich and 25 minutes from Colchester.

The roads around Flatford are very narrow. Sticking ‘Flatford Mill’ in iPhone maps will leave you high and dry. It’ll say you have arrived when you blatantly haven’t, so we would advise that you don’t rely on phone maps to get you there.

The carpark is in the middle of a one way system and again we would advise that you pay attention to the sign post for the Mill leading up to it!

By bus: Buses 93 94 94c From Ipswich Willis Building 38 minutes every 3 hours to East Bergholt, Kings Head. Walk for 14 minutes to Flatford Mill.

By Car: From Ipswich 16 minutes (10.9 miles)


Parking at Flatford costs £4 per car or is free for National Trust members. There are no other entrance fees after the parking cost.

There is a free car park in the village of East Bergholt, but it is a 1.6 mile (30 minute) walk to Flatford Mill and to walk there does use the same narrow one way ‘exit’ road, that has no paths, so be careful if you choose this option!

With Ipswich being so close to Flatford, Stone Lodge Apartments in Ipswich make an ideal location to visit the many places of interest in Suffolk Norfolk and Essex