Images of 'Constable country'

David Walker, UK reflects on a visit to an area associated with the famous landscape artist John Constable.

John Constable quick fact file:
  • A famous English artist; noted for his landscape paintings.
  • Born in East Bergholt, Suffolk, England in 1776; died 1837.
  • 'Constable country' is the popular term for the painter's native south Suffolk countryside and which inspired some of his most famous paintings, including 'Flatford Mill'.
  • Flatford Mill was owned by Constable's father. Visitors can stay at the mill for residential courses ... and experience the magic of 'Constable country'.

The countryside around Flatford Mill on the River Stour in south Suffolk, England is very beautiful and inspired some of John Constable's most famous paintings. Much of the scenery is largely unchanged from when the painter knew it.

'Constable country' is well worth a visit, not only to enjoy the landscape and skyscapes, but you can even stay in Flatford Mill as it is now a field centre. The author, who is an amateur naturalist, attended a course on an 'Introduction to mosses and liverworts', but a wide variety of courses are held there. Including courses on art to paint the scenes Constable loved so much.

The images below hopefully show some of the appeal of the area, taken over the weekend the author stayed at Flatford Mill.


Flatford Mill. The water mill was built ca. 1733 for grinding wheat. The mill and associated buildings (see below) are now part of the field centre. 

View Constable's 'Flatford Mill' painting at the Tate Gallery (UK) on-line collection.

Looking across the River Stour to the countryside beyond on a cold misty morning. The title image was taken at the same time.

One of the benefits of staying in the area, rather than a day visit, is that you can experience its appeal in the early morning and late evening.

The skyscapes are very noticeable in this predominantly flat landscape, and feature highly in many of Constable's paintings.

The River Stour and Flatford Bridge. The boats can be hired for a memorable trip along the River Stour which Constable knew so well.

Bridge Cottage is in the background.

Bridge Cottage dates back to the 16th century. It is owned by the National Trust where information on the area and refreshments can be obtained. 

The cottage has a thatched roof (usually of straw or reeds); a roofing style often seen and maintained on older English cottages.

This is a view of Willy Lott's cottage through the half door of the Mill. This cottage features in some of Constable's most famous paintings, notably 'The Hay Wain'. View this painting at the National Gallery (UK) on-line collection, and you can see the cottage on the left of the painting. The cottage is part of the Field Studies Centre and some course attendees stay in the cottage.

The Mill with Willy Lott's cottage in the background. The timbered structure at roof level was used to haul up sacks of wheat from the lane below for grinding to flour.

Comments to the author Dave Walker are welcomed.

All images are by the author (scanned from 6x4 inch lab prints from 35mm film).

Article first appeared in Issue 3, 2001 of Anafilya, courtesy of M Halit Umar a founder of the website. 

On-line resources

Field Studies Council - information on all the FSC field centres in the UK, including Flatford Mill and current courses available there.

'John Constable A Sense of Place'. An online tour of Constable's works in the Tate Gallery, UK.

'Constable Country' Ipswich Borough Council. Local government web site offering tourism details.



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Published in the July 2004 edition of Micscape.

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