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An Art Lovers Luxury Break

Welcome to Essex

Spend a few days in the luxury of one of the Milsom Hotel Group’s properties in the Dedham Vale, deep in the heart of Constable Country.

Day 1

Spend the morning in Braintree, exploring the District Museum.  A converted Victorian school, the museum brings to life the story of this interesting market town, known for its local textile industry, the Courtauld Silk Mills thrived in the town. Local craftmanship is also celebrated here and there is a dedicated area to Crittals, another local firm.

Choose lunch in one of the many cafes and pubs in the town.

From 3pm, check in to Idle Waters, a Milsom’s luxury self-catering cottage set beside the River Stour in the Dedham Vale, an area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Or book your stay at Talbooth Hotel & Spa, a 4 AA*, boutique country house hotel with just twelve individually designed bedrooms, a pool, tennis court and lovely views out across Constable’s Countryside.

Options for dinner include Milsom's and Talbooth Restaurant as well as numerous other eateries in Dedham.

Day 2

Morning visit to Saffron Walden - start at the Tourist Information Centre on the market square which is also a lovely shop selling gifts and local produce, including Saffron! Here you can pick up a Trail Map and explore the town, pop into the cathedral-like St Mary’s Church and marvel at the ancient, pargetted buildings around town.  Don't miss Bridge End Gardens and the ancient ‘turf’ maze on the Common.Tuesdays and Saturdays are market days. There are lots of independent shops to explore and make time for the Fry Gallery where you can see works by the Great Bardfield artists who lived and worked in North-West Essex in the 1950s, the most well-known of which are Edward Bawden and war artist, Eric Ravilious. The gallery is only open on selected days so check before setting out.

Choose from a variety of cafes and pubs for lunch in the town.

After lunch, drive to Thaxted to see the impressive medieval church, timber-framed guild hall and large Georgian windmill. A blue plaque marks the house in the high street, where Gustav Holtz, composer of ‘The Planets’, once lived.

Next up are the picture-postcard villages of Finchingfield and Great Bardfield, where the abovementioned artists lived and you can see a blue plaque on Brick House in the high street.

Drive back to Dedham via Great Dunmow where the quirky Flitch Trials take place every four years. Married couples from anywhere in the world can come to Dunmow and win a side or a ‘flitch’ of bacon if they can prove to a judge and jury that in the last twelve months they had not argued with each other nor regretted their marriage!

Return to Dedham to relax before dinner at The Sun Inn, a delightful historic inn, opposite the church in Dedham High Street.

Day 3

Morning visit to Britain’s first recorded town, Colchester, where the Art Fund’s Museum of the Year 2021, Firstsite, is tucked away in the new ‘Cultural Quarter’. Free to enter, this remarkable, ultra-modern building was purpose built as a gallery and is a perfect space to spend time appreciating works of art.

Pop over the road to Colchester Castle where you can easily spend a couple of hours engrossed in the excellent Castle Museum.  Alternatively, take to the high street for some retail therapy.

Lunch in the Firstsite café, looking out over the gardens, or choose from a range of eateries in town. 

Afternoon - head back to Dedham for an afternoon stroll alongside the River Stour, taking in scenes associated with John Constable, or get out onto the water and try paddle boarding or canoeing.

Time for tea…?  The Essex Rose, Tiptree tea rooms are slap bang in the centre of Dedham where you can try the exquisite Little Scarlet strawberry jam, exclusive to Tiptree. 

Alternatively, spend the afternoon walking the woods in Wrabness, by the Stour estuary.  Park at the railway station (or arrive by train) and you can see the eccentric and delightful, Grayson Perry’s House for Essex, on your way down to the woods. 

A couple of miles up the road is Old Harwich where you can wander along the old Ha’Penny Pier and take afternoon tea at The Pier Hotel.  

Image: Michael Landy, Welcome to Essex, 2021 © Michael Landy. Courtesy the artist and Thomas Dane Gallery.

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Product Information

  1. Talbooth House & Spa


    Fabulous country house hotel situated overlooking Constable Country and the Dedham Vale. 12 luxurious suites all individually designed and decorated. Day spa, tennis court, outdoor swimming pool and hot tubs.

  2. Braintree District Museum


    This award winning museum is based in the converted Courtauld School and has displays from Crittall steel windows to Warners royal silks, Castle Hedingham pottery to Edward Bawden prints.

  3. Talbooth Restaurant

    Dedham, Colchester

    Beside the River Stour on Essex/Suffolk border. Award winning restaurant offering great food, service and atmosphere.

  4. Saffron Walden Tourist Information Centre

    Saffron Walden

    Saffron Walden Tourist Information Centre is open Monday to Saturday from 9.30am to 5pm.

  5. Bridge End Garden

    Saffron Walden

    Bridge End Garden was laid out by the Gibson family in the nineteenth century and is open to the public each day free of charge. Recently restored back to its former glory.

  6. Thaxted


    Thaxted is a beautiful small town in open countryside halfway between Saffron Walden and Great Dunmow. The compact nature of the historic centre with its timber framed buildings, its steeply pitched roofs and chimneys contrasts with the surrounding agricultural mosaic of brown, yellow and green.…

  7. Finchingfield Post Mill


    A small 18th century Post Mill having one pair of stones and tailpole winding and has been extensively restored. Visitors may climb up to the first two floors.

  8. Great Bardfield


    Situated in the Braintree district, this north-west Essex village of Great Bardfield, which is just under ten miles from Braintree and 12 miles from Saffron Walden, is located in a conservation area and has a significant number of medieval and later listed buildings in the village.

  9. Great Dunmow


    Dunmow is a small market town, steeped in history with mellow plaster cottages, riverside church and beautifully restored Malting.

  10. The Sun Inn Dedham


    A quintessential coaching inn at the heart of Constable Country. It has been a watering hole for villagers and resting post for travellers for centuries.

  11. Firstsite


    Firstsite is an international gallery and creative community space. See the world differently – experience the very best art and culture from around the world that inspires, empowers and opens your mind.

  12. Colchester Castle Museum


    Colchester Castle is the largest Norman Keep in Europe. Constructed on the foundations of the Roman Temple of Claudius. The Castle Museum today reveals many fascinating layers of history to visitors.

  13. Tiptree Tea Room at Essex Rose, Dedham


    The Essex Rose Tea Room serves a range of sandwiches, jacket potatoes, cooked lunches, hot and cold snacks, cakes and scones.

  14. A House for Essex


    A House for Essex appears as a small, beautifully crafted object amidst the trees and fields. The house does not attempt to mimic the appearance and materials of existing buildings in the local village of Wrabness. Instead, it offers a unique addition. 

  15. The Pier at Harwich Hotel


    Situated on the quay in Harwich, this small AA 4 star hotel has 14 bedrooms, many with fine views over The Stour and Orwell estuaries. Enjoy all day dining throughout the year in the Pier Restaurant or small plates, cocktails and gin library in the NAVYÄRD bar.

Itinerary Distances

FromToDistance * (metric)
Talbooth House & Spa (51.95774,0.97926)Braintree District Museum (51.87849,0.55378)27.47
Braintree District Museum (51.87849,0.55378)Talbooth Restaurant (51.96212,0.97105)27.11
Talbooth Restaurant (51.96212,0.97105)Saffron Walden Tourist Information Centre (52.02365,0.2414)45.44
Saffron Walden Tourist Information Centre (52.02365,0.2414)Bridge End Garden (52.02657,0.23782)0.37
Bridge End Garden (52.02657,0.23782)Thaxted (51.95203,0.34752)10.08
Thaxted (51.95203,0.34752)Finchingfield Post Mill (51.96967,0.45216)6.7
Finchingfield Post Mill (51.96967,0.45216)Great Bardfield (51.94691,0.43427)2.53
Great Bardfield (51.94691,0.43427)Great Dunmow (51.8706,0.35922)8.94
Great Dunmow (51.8706,0.35922)The Sun Inn Dedham (51.95892,0.99235)40.12
The Sun Inn Dedham (51.95892,0.99235)Firstsite (51.88898,0.90536)8.83
Firstsite (51.88898,0.90536)Colchester Castle Museum (51.89052,0.903)0.21
Colchester Castle Museum (51.89052,0.903)Tiptree Tea Room at Essex Rose, Dedham (51.95903,0.99331)8.85
Tiptree Tea Room at Essex Rose, Dedham (51.95903,0.99331)A House for Essex (51.94143,1.17337)11.26
A House for Essex (51.94143,1.17337)The Pier at Harwich Hotel (51.94789,1.28687)7.04
Total Distance *204.91 miles
Estimated Journey Time6.6 hours

* Approximate distance by road

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