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Dedham, River Stour, Essex

13 things to do in Dedham

Discover pretty shopfronts, jammy tea rooms, arty views and more lush things to do in Dedham, Essex

Written by
Emma Vince
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With its quaint, pretty-in-pastel High Street, cute tea shops and charming churches, this little
village in Essex is a quintessential countryside escape from the city. But what makes it extra
special is the surrounding Dedham Vale. Officially an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, it’s also known as ‘Constable Country’, after the artist John Constable who made the gorgeous, rural area famous with his paintings.

RECOMMENDED: Visit nearby Lavenham, Aldeburgh or Cambridge

Things to do in Dedham

First up

First up

Start your day with a hefty helping of culture at The Munnings Art Museum, just a short walk from town. Browse the largest collection of paintings by Sir Alfred Munnings, depicting horses and bucolic landscapes, under one roof.

Splash the cash

Splash the cash

Wander along the High Street, admiring the Georgian façades and medieval timber-frames as you go. Then, make a beeline for Dedham Art & Craft Centre. Open every day, this convertedchurch  is a treasure trove of unique designs from more than 60 local artists and makers.

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Stop for lunch

Stop for lunch

Tiptree Tea Room is run by the famous Essex-based jam company – and boy do they know how to do afternoon tea. Expect crumbly scones paired with the best jam around. Book Le Talbooth for fancy, fine food on the terrace beside the river.

Drink like a local

Stop at one of the few pubs in town: The Sun Inn or The Marlborough. The latter is a sixteenth-century, wooden-beamed beauty, with a walled beer garden for soaking up the spring sun, playing board games or mingling with the locals.

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Soak up the vibes

Soak up the vibes

Exploring the countryside around Dedham is essential. Cross the River Stour, find the footpath opposite Dedham Boating Club and follow the river east. It’s an easy amble across lowland landscapes to the pretty hamlet of Flatford.

Don’t leave without finding Willy Lott’s House. The building appears in one of Constable’s most famous paintings ‘The Hay Wain’ and it looks strikingly unchanged today.

If you only do one thing
Tony Parker / Alamy Stock Photo

If you only do one thing

When it’s sunny and warm there’s no better way to explore Dedham Vale than hiring a little boat from Dedham Boathouse. Grab your oars, then row-row-row your way along the River Stour and see the lush, rolling fields of Constable Country by water.

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And if you stay the night, wake up here

The radiant façade of The Sun Inn is a bright beacon on Dedham’s picturesque High Street. Inside, this independently owned former coaching inn has everything you’d expect of a traditional, rustic pub – wood-panelled lounge, roaring fires – and a few things you wouldn’t, like a delicious seasonal menu and seven tastefully decorated bedrooms. A favourite with locals and travellers alike, it’s a great base to explore the area. The team are happy to arrange boats or bikes for you to get around, and to pack you a picnic to take with you on your countryside jaunts. In a word, idyllic. From £150 a night. 

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