The Stour Valley


The Anchor Inn, Nayland is in the heart of the Stour Valley, a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and known as Dedham Vale. The local landscape has been made famous by the romantic painter John Constable, as Dedham Vale surrounded the home that he loved.

He said of the area, ‘I associate my ‘careless boyhood’ with all that lies on the banks of the Stour. Those scenes made me a painter and I am very grateful – that is, I had often thought of pictures of them before ever I touched a pencil …’

A number of his paintings are set a few miles from The Anchor itself; the most famous being ‘Dedham Vale’ (1802) and Willy Lott’s House and millpond, site of the ‘The Hay Wain’ (1821).

The area is also well known by keen and leisurely walkers, with beautiful paths running through picturesque river valleys, in the characteristic English lowland landscape. Flatford Mill, once owned by Constable’s father, and ‘the star’ of many of his painting, is some six miles away, and from there a short amble downstream brings you to Bridge Cottage, the inspiration for many of Constable’s later paintings.

Other idyllic villages are Polstead, Highham and, Constable’s birthplace, East Bergholt. The area is also well known for its galleries, craft shops, medieval churches, fine food restaurants and cafes.