A truly British experience in the Dedham Vale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, pretty unspoilt traditional Essex and Suffolk villages, beautiful landscapes and lovely gardens, famous English artists’ homes and heritage pubs, seafood and the seaside.
This is a sightseeing tour with dedicated luxury mini coach and professional driver.
This all inclusive tour is for anyone wishing to assimilate British culture and immerse themselves in a very lovely Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty which, immortalised by the works of world renowned Royal Academy artist John Constable, is recognised by those who know it as quintessential England.
One of our native British Mandarin-speaking guides will collect you from your central London or central Cambridge hotel (or other place nearby if you prefer) in a luxury mini coach with professional driver and accompany you on the whole tour.
On arrival in Dedham, in the heart of Constable Country on the Essex Suffolk border just north of Colchester, the capital of England in Roman times, you will receive a very warm welcome from British local Stephen Bunting who has lived and worked in the area all his life, as at least 5 generations of his family have done before him, specialising in horticulture and rural enterprise with branches overseas. Stephen is the ‘face’ of Constable Country and nearby areas, and he will be your special host for the two day tour accompanied by your native British Mandarin-speaking guide.
Over the course of 2 days, you will walk together through the outstandingly beautiful Constable Country landscape and by the River Stour, looking around the unspoilt picturesque villages of Dedham and East Bergholt in particular, visiting beautiful gardens and art galleries, and of course enjoying traditional English pubs. Lunch on the first day will be in an authentic, 700 year old pub in East Bergholt, still used by local people who speak in the strong local accent.
In the evening of the first day you will experience a superb 3 course dinner including wine in the restaurant of the Sun Inn in Dedham, which always provides a variety of delicious dishes created when possible from local produce. The Sun is a lovely ‘Coaching Inn’, dating back to the 14th century, which has a particularly welcoming atmosphere that makes it a great place to enjoy a special, and some would say unique, part of British culture.
You will be staying in Dedham Hall, parts of which date back to the 15th century. The hotel is owned and managed by Jim and Wendy Sarton who live in the Hall themselves giving it a friendly family feel, providing guests with a sense of what it might be like to live in such a country residence as their own home. Alternatively you will be staying at the Sun Inn to enjoy the experience of being accommodated in an historic ‘Coaching Inn’.
The second day of the tour offers two completely different itineraries, to suit personal choice.
Visit internationally acclaimed Beth Chatto Gardens, followed by a relatively short drive onto Mersea Island, world famous for its native oysters, where you will be able to do some ‘crabbing’ (lines and bait provided) from the West Mersea jetty and also enjoy a 20 minute boat trip around the harbour. Afterwards a fabulous seafood lunch including wine or other drinks will be provided in the Company Shed, one of Stephen’s favourite places as it is totally unpretentious, has great seafood and is usually full of locals. After lunch you will be shown around Castle House in Dedham, containing the Munnings Art Museum, which is a classic very beautiful georgian house, still very much as it was when one of Britain’s greatest equestrian painters, Sir Alfred Munnings (1888-1958), lived there for some 40 years. This will be followed with a cream tea in the Garden Cafe of the Munnings Museum and a short visit to the Shakespeare House Gallery to enjoy paintings by one of the gallery’s owners local artist Terry Jeffrey.
Visit Colchester’s historic Castle, Castle Park, Roman walls, Dutch Quarter and modern day Firstsite Art Gallery, followed by a relatively short drive to Hall Farm in Stratford St Mary. There you will have lunch and drinks in the Farm’s excellent cafe restaurant overlooking the Dedham Vale and the farm animals. After lunch you will be able to look around the Farm Shop of Hall Farm, which includes a deli and butchers, and provides an opportunity to purchase some treats. This will be followed by a walking tour through parkland and along the River to the Shakespeare House Gallery in Dedham to enjoy paintings there by one of the gallery’s owners local artist Terry Jeffrey, before walking on to see more of Dedham’s architecture and visit the Dedham Art and Craft Centre. This will be followed by a cream tea in the Essex Rose Tea House.
Whichever option you choose for the second day, your tour will end where it began, in the lounge of the Sun Inn, from where the luxury mini coach will take you in comfort back to London, Cambridge or an alternative closeby destination if preferred.
More about your local host, Stephen Bunting
Since 2002 Stephen has been to the People’s Republic China many times, mainly to Jiangsu Province, which has been twinned with the County of Essex for nearly 30 years. Stephen is delighted to return the kind hospitality he has received from the Chinese people and to personally share with those on the tour as much as possible of his culture.
Native British Mandarin-speaking guide throughout
Local host, Stephen Bunting, the long-established ‘face of the area’, throughout
Luxury mini coach with professional driver throughout
Pick up from Central London or Central Cambridge and direct transfer by luxury mini coach to Dedham
Welcome tea and biscuits
2 outstanding different lunches including wine and/or other drinks (per person)
1 superb three course dinner including wine and/or other drinks (per person)
1 night’s accommodation with full breakfast at an excellent hotel in Dedham (per person)
1 afternoon cream tea of lovely ‘home-made’ scones with jam and clotted cream (per person)
Admission to all places visited as part of the tour
All activities provided as part of the tour
Soft drinks and other refreshments carried by the luxury mini coach
Direct return transfer by luxury mini coach to Central London or Central Cambridge
… nothing we can think of!