We have recently been travelling in East Anglia and as we made our way to Woodbridge to stay with friends we stopped off at some very special places. The first of these was Paycocke’s House and Garden at Coggeshall and Flatford. The former is a Tudor house built by a wealthy wool merchant in the fifteenth century – they all seem to have been wealthy wool merchants around this time – and is still in remarkable condition. The latter is where the estate of John Constable’s father was and where he was a business man who owned Flatford Mill, Dedham Mill, three dry docks and a fleet commercial barges.
Flatford is one of those examples of a complete village or area being taken over and managed by the National Trust. In this instance it is the various buildings around the original Flatford Mill that have come under NT care. The Suffolk countryside that Constable depicted in the Romantic style of the period – as a contemporary of Wordsworth, for example – is to be seen today although somewhat changed by time. Many of the key scenes and buildings we recognize from some of Constable’s most famous works were painted either here at Flatford or nearby. The location of “The Haywain” with “Willy Lot’s house” to the left of the painting can still be discerned today.