Stay at Maison Talbooth on the Essex/Suffolk border and discover the landscape that shaped three great painters who owe much of their inspiration to this very special part of East Anglia. The hotel is set in the Dedham Vale in the heart of ‘Constable Country’ so named as John Constable was born just over the border in Suffolk and walked to school in Dedham along the banks of the river Stour. Flatford is home to the famous painting ‘The Haywain’ and Willy Lott’s Cottage still stands today – and of course, no stay in Dedham would complete without a visit to Le Talbooth restaurant which is featured in one of Constable’s paintings ‘The Vale of Dedham’.
The Munnings Collection at Castle House in Dedham was the home of Sir Alfred Munnings and described by him as ‘the house of my dreams’. Munnings was an immensely successful, yet controversial, artist whose career spanned almost 70 years. He was not only a major figure in the great tradition of British equestrian art but also celebrated for his depictions of scenes from English rural life. The museum is now home to over 200 of his original paintings and gives an interesting insight into the life and work of the artist, the house remains largely unchanged from the time Munnings lived there and was bequeathed to the nation by his widow, Lady Violet. A tour of the house also includes Munnings studio.
The third painter on the trail is Thomas Gainsborough whose house is in the middle of Sudbury, a market town some 20 minutes away. Gainsborough was born and spent his early years in the town and it’s fascinating to see the house and garden, including a beautiful Mulberry tree dating from the reign of James I. Sudbury is also famous for silk weaving and is the biggest exporter of silk goods in England. Vanners Silk Weavers, who back on to Gainsborough’s House garden, has been producing silk since 1740 and have supplied the silk for several Royal Weddings.
Both the museums hold regular exhibitions throughout the year, please visit their websites for more information