The Dedham Vale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and Stour Valley Project area make up around 117 square miles of the Essex/Suffolk border in the East of England. The area is a perfect rural idyll, typified by its undulating farmland, wooded valley sides, gently meandering river and picturesque, chocolate-box villages. Enjoy the exceptional beauty of the Dedham Vale that inspired the famous artists John Constable and Thomas Gainsborough, venturing off the beaten track on foot or by bicycle.
STRATFORD ST. MARY. Evidence of Stratford St. Mary’s antiquity includes traces of a henge from c. 4,000BC, and Roman remains on Gun Hill. The original Saxon settlement comprising 30 tenants and a mill mentioned in Domesday Book was abandoned as settlement grew along the river and the road to Bergholt. A series of manorial court rolls beginning in 1318 reveal that many of the medieval families were connected with the wool trade which accounts for much of its early prosperity. Benefactors included wealthy clothiers like the Mors (or Morse) family who generously endowed the church. Stratford’s long, straggling main street lined with inns provides evidence of its bustling prosperity in the coaching days when the town catered for a continuous traffic of cattle, turkeys and geese bound for the London market. St. Mary’s church, Langham, originates from the 12th century, and has featured in the works of John Constable. The River Stour runs through the area, and is popular with canoeists.