Waking up to the sound of church bells in Constable country is so comforting. To pull up the blind, sip coffee and watch villagers pour into Dedham parish church across the street from your bed at the Sun Inn evokes the days when the landscape painter immortalised this Essex village in the Stour Valley.
For this view choose Boudicca. It’s a snug room in clean country colours, with super-king brass bed, plump, wonderful linen, a Roberts radio and creaky, carpeted floors. Compact bathrooms only work if they’re squeaky clean, and this one shines like a star.
Dedham remains a quintessentially English village which has managed to avoid shops selling tourist tat – it feels like a living, breathing community and this independently owned, centuries-old coaching inn is very much a part of it.
Warm welcome: The yellow front of The Sun Inn in the village of Dedham
Tiptree jam fans need only walk to the pink 16th Century Essex Rose Tea House opposite the church and Royal Square for a cream tea. And don’t miss Constable’s glorious Ascension Of Christ hanging in the airy 16th Century church.
Big skies and landscapes are on offer, so take an easy stroll across Dedham Vale to Flatford Mill and Willy Lott’s Cottage, now owned by the National Trust. What a pleasing spot; it is instantly recognisable because so little has it changed since Constable depicted it in The Hay Wain.
The Sun Inn is a hub for locals and visitors alike. Sensational food makes for difficult choices – roast hake with stuffed courgette flower, or Dingle Dell pork belly with girolles? Go to sleep to the low hum of drinkers at the horseshoe-shaped elm bar below, imagining the travellers who have stopped here down the years.
Breakfast is a quiet, soothing affair. Don’t miss the dried fruit compote poached in Earl Grey tea with cinnamon and orange.
The Sun Inn is a hub for locals and visitors alike, writes Sarah Hartley. Its cosy lounge, above
The USP: You can’t miss the sunny yellow building in the High Street and it’s the place to stay if you want to explore locations in Constable’s paintings, such as Dedham Mill and across the fields to Flatford Mill.
The rooms: Seven pretty, country modern rooms but not achingly so.
The food: Tempting at every turn, from hand-made tagliatelle to a rare-breed steak. It’s a destination for Sunday lunch. The kitchen will also pack up a picnic (with bikes and rugs) for £9.75pp.
The Sun Inn, The High Street, Dedham, Essex. A Sunday sleepover, including lunch and dinner up to a value of £55pp, double room and breakfast, costs £200. For more information visit thesuninndedham.com.