Dedham, Essex is a small village, near Colchester in eastern England. The quaint English village is the perfect getaway spot for a long weekend for anyone already in the country or looking for stops to add to a European road trip itinerary.Dedham lies at the border of Essex and Suffolk and is directly on the River Stour, making it an idyllic spot for a quiet, rural escape from daily life. These are the top 10 things to do in Dedham for an authentic small-town English experience.
10 Rent a Boat at Dedham Boathouse
One of the top things to do in Dedham, Essex is to head to the River Stour to see Dedham from the water. Visitors can rent a rowboat from the Dedham Boathouse for £20 per hour. The rental boat can accommodate up to four adult passengers or five if there is a child on board.
While there is no minimum age requirement to ride the boat, each vessel should have a responsible adult over age 17.
9 Have Afternoon Tea in the Tiptree Tea Room
No trip to Dedham is complete with a proper English tea experience in the Tiptree tea room at Essex Rose. The quaint tea room is located on High Street in Dedham and is open seven days a week all year (except over the Christmas holidays).
The tea room can seat 70 guests, but it's best to make a reservation in advance. The Essex Rose tea room serves lunch specials, sandwiches, cakes, and traditional homemade scones.
8 Take a Scenic Walk to the Hamlet of Flatford
From Dedham, it’s just a short walk to the hamlet of Flatford, but the route is extremely beautiful with the sprawling countryside, wildlife, and farm animals roaming. Once they arrive in Flatford, visitors can take in the charm of this tiny town in a few ways. They can visit the John Constable Exhibition where they can see the paintings of the famous British artist on display. It’s a special experience to view them in Flatford, where the landscapes inspired much of his artwork.
It’s also worth checking out the Flatford Mill. This historic structure is a watermill on the River Stout that was built in the early 1700s was owned by John Constable’s father. It was a working mill until 1900 and is now owned by the National Trust.
7 See Willy Lott’s Cottage
While in Flatford, take the time to walk over to Willy Lott’s Cottage. Sitting on the river among the woodlands, this adorable white structure with a brown roof is heavily featured in the paintings of the local artist, John Constable.
The house was built over the course of three centuries and is now owned by the National Trust. Learn more about the history of this compelling building while visiting or simply snap some photos to capture its smalltown, countryside aesthetic.
6 Have Brunch at the Old Bakery Café
A weekend away in Dedham isn’t complete without a cozy brunch at the idyllic Old Bakery Café. Situated on High Street, this is the most popular place to grab a coffee in Dedham and has built a positive reputation within the community.
The menu features breakfast foods like omelets, sandwiches for afternoon tea, or sweet treats for dessert. The bakery has a lovely aesthetic that is perfect for taking photos to commemorate the visit.
5 Appreciate History at The Munnings Art Museum
Art lovers will appreciate the collection of paintings and posters at The Munnings Art Museum in Dedham. This architectural gem is the former home of Sir Alfred Munnings. He lived here with his wife Violet until his death in 1959 and referred to it as his dream home.
The museum is open from April to October on Wednesdays through Sundays and parking is free. Tickets can be purchased at the door.
4 Take a Stroll to St. Mary’s Church
Any itinerary for a trip to Dedham should include taking a stroll to St. Mary’s Church. This incredible work of architecture is an important historical fixture in the Dedham community, dating back to 1942. It’s dedicated to St. Mary the Virgin.
Visitors can schedule a tour through the church and tower to understand the rich history of the building.
3 Smell the Roses at Beth Chatto’s Plants and Gardens
Beth Chatto’s Plants and Gardens is a collection of significant heritage gardens in Dedham that’s sure to impress visitors. It’s a relaxing experience to stroll through the spectacular Gravel Garden or the Scree Garden which uses Mediterranean alpine-style planting. Those looking for shade under a canopy of oaks will enjoy the Woodland Garden.
Tickets for adults are £12.50 per person and there is a tea room on site where guests can purchase food or drink.
2 Spend an Evening at The Sun Inn Pub
Immerse yourself in British pub culture for a night at The Sun Inn, known as the watering hole for local villagers. Stop by for a pint and spend the evening chatting with other travelers and locals to get a feel for what it's like to live in a tiny English town.
The Sun Inn also has an extensive lunch and dinner menu with traditional pub food, making for a night of great food and fun.
1 Have a Meal at the Marlborough
It’s no secret that prices in England are costly compared to many other parts of the world, but it’s worth splurging on a fancy sit-down meal for a night at the Marlborough. This charming restaurant stocks local ales, a selection of wines, and craft gins for a true taste of Dedham.
Book a table inside the venue for dinner or enjoy a more casual glass of ale in the beer garden.