4 Best Sights in Dedham, East Anglia

St. Mary-the-Virgin

Fodor's choice

One of the most remarkable churches in the region, St. Mary-the-Virgin was started just before the Reformation. The doors underneath the ruined archways outside (remnants of a much older church) contain a series of mysterious symbols—actually a coded message left by Catholic sympathizers of the time. The striking interior contains a mini-museum of treasures, including an ancient wall painting of the Virgin Mary in one of the rear chapels, a 14th-century chest, and an extraordinary series of florid memorial stones on the nave wall opposite the main entrance. A unique feature of the church is that its bells are rung from a cage in the graveyard; this was erected as a temporary measure, pending the construction of a tower in 1531 that was never completed.

Flatford Rd., East Bergholt, CO7 6TG, England
01206-392646
Sight Details
Rate Includes: Free

Bridge Cottage

On the north bank of the Stour, this 16th-century home in East Bergholt has a shop, an exhibition about Constable's life, and a pleasant tearoom overlooking the river. You can also rent rowboats here.

Colchester

Nobody knows for sure whether Colchester is, as it claims, the oldest town in Britain. What’s certain, however, is that it was a major stronghold during the Roman occupation. History buffs enjoy the impressive Roman amphitheater, where parts of the walls and floor are visible. Sections of the original Roman walls are also still standing. Colchester Castle was built on the foundations of the huge Roman Temple of Claudius. Colchester is off the A12, 9 miles southwest of Dedham.

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Willy Lott's House

A five-minute stroll down the path from Bridge Cottage brings you to this 16th-century structure that is instantly recognizable from Constable's painting The Hay Wain (1821). Although the house is not usually open to the public, the road is a public thoroughfare, so you can just walk right on up to see the famous—and completely unchanged—view for yourself. Just stand across from the two trees on the far bank, with the mill on your right, and look upstream. On the outside wall of the mill is a handy reproduction of the painting to help you compose your own photo.