Published: 10/09/2017 By Susie BullmanThis isn’t just any old chocolate box village; this is Constable Country. Beautiful countryside, friendly pubs, a church and shop plus some of the country’s most revered natural beauty spots on your doorstep… the question should be ‘why wouldn’t you?’
If you like the idea of stepping out on a sunny day, perhaps heading to the river, for a breath of fresh air before heading over to the bakery which is along a road called ‘The Street’ (because surely every good village has a main road by that name)…then you should think about East Bergholt.
If you like the idea of living in one of the most photographed areas of the country, a place of outstanding natural beauty, but still being within commuting distance of London, then you should think about East Bergholt.
If you want to live in a village that will keep you ‘in touch’ with decent internet, but still offers you the ability to walk in open countryside, have a garden bigger than a handkerchief, boat along the river, pop down to feed the ducks, or enjoy some home-cooked food or a pint in the friendly pubs, then you should consider East Bergholt.
Where is East Bergholt?
East Bergholt is a sizeable village on the north bank of the River Stour, where the great landscape artist John Constable was born – think colourful cottages, quaint village pubs and open countryside.
It’s on the Essex-Suffolk border, 10 miles north of Colchester and 8 miles south of Ipswich; Nearby Manningtree station will get you to London in just 59 minutes (and the first train leaves at 05:24). This makes it one of the prettiest commutable places in not-easily-commutable Suffolk.
Its connection to the Constable family runs deep. Constable’s father owned Flatford Mill and the artist grew up in the village; both his parents are buried in the village churchyard at St Mary’s.
The Bells, the Bells!
The church is an unusual building without a tower; the tower was begun in 1525 but because of lack of funds, it was never finished.
But the bells still ring out! Because they had no tower, they were kept instead, upside-down in a 16th century wooden bell-cage in the churchyard. And there they remain, ringing out every Sunday morning. Perhaps their lack of tower has stood them in good stead: they are the five heaviest bells still rung (they’re pushed rather than pulled by a rope) in England.
Schools in East Bergholt.
According to the latest Ofsted reports, the schools in the village are ‘Good’ and a quick Google will show that parents rate them well too. East Bergholt High School is for children aged 11-16, and the primary school, East Bergholt CEVC, is a voluntary controlled school. If you live in the village both schools are within walking distance. A variety of independent and grammar schools are also a short, car, bus or train journey away in nearby Colchester or Ipswich.
East Bergholt Activities and Community.
A short walk from the centre of the village will take you to Flatford Mill. This is where Constable painted what is widely regarded as his most famous landscape, Hay Wain, which he finished in 1821. Now the scene would ordinarily include more ducks and swans, but the original building ‘Willie Lott’s Cottage’ and of course the river itself, remain. A popular walk from the Mill is to picturesque Dedham (where Constable attended school); perfect for long family walks with the dog or lazy, pre-pub lunch ambles!
If you fancy something different, you can travel along the Stour in the local passenger boat or hire a rowing boat from East Bergholt’s outdoor hire centre. After a long walk or a late lunch, the welcoming tea room at the mill is a lovely spot for catching up with friends.
East Bergholt’s community spirit is as strong as its scenery; with plenty of active clubs, groups and societies bringing people of all ages and lifestages together. So whether you’re an active church-goer, enjoy a good pub quiz, or are looking for a friendly group to take your toddler to, they have it covered.
With its great transport links, good schools and Constable countryside, East Bergholt offers a very good balance between work and play. And it’s not all timber-framed manors: there are farmhouses, thatched cottages and more regular houses to suit a wide range of budgets, tastes and life stages.