A few days holiday earlier this month provided us with an opportunity to explore a corner of England that we do not know very well, namely the Essex-Suffolk border. My ancestors between the 17th and 19th centuries lived not that far away in Coggeshall and Castle Hedingham, but we have never spent much time in this part of the country.
We chose to explore the Stour Valley and by great good fortune stayed at the Sun Inn at Dedham – what a find! Dedham itself is a picturesque small village on the Stour, with its fine church dating from the 15th century indicating its past affluence as a wool and market town. The village still retains a communal atmosphere, with the church having standing room only for its annual carol service, and it is the only place I know where the chemist and post office are in one and the same shop! For those not wanting to be contacted, some parts of the village also fortunately still remain beyond the access of mobile connectivity!
The Sun is a wonderful, hidden away place to stay. The young staff are efficient and friendly, without being either intrusive or obsequious. The rooms are each individually designed, with pocket sprung mattress, Egyptian cotton bed linen, goose down pillows and duvets; luxury body products are sourced from Abahna.
Dedham is perhaps best known for being the place where the artist John Constable went to school. It was a strange experience to walk in his footsteps along the valley and across the Stour up to where his home was in the nearby village of East Bergholt. His father was a corn merchant who also owned the nearby Flatford Mill, and the local buildings and landscapes provided the inspiration for many of his famous paintings such as The Hay Wain (1821) and Dedham Vale (1802). Walking along the river bank on a cold frosty December morning was very evocative of England past, and made a wonderful escape from the “business” and turmoil of London, less than 70 miles away!
The Sun Inn and Dedham are most definitely to be recommended by anyone wishing to discover a beautiful hidden away part of England, and enjoy English food (with a touch of Mediterranean influence!) and hospitality at its best.
Thanks to everyone at the Sun who made our stay so enjoyable and relaxing!