The tranquil landscape
of the River Stour valley, the setting for many of the paintings of
the renowned artist John Constable, was officially
designated the Dedham Vale Area of Natural Beauty by the
Countryside Commission in 1969. The Vale stretches for nearly 14
miles on either side of the river, from Manningtree in the east to
Wormingford in the west. However, even its official status as an
AONB does not protect it from the constant threat of development,
both from housing and commerce, traffic and noise and light
It all began in 1938 when a proposal was made to demolish the coaching-arch
at the Sun Inn in Dedham High Street to enable vehicles to have easier
access to the car-park at the rear. Opposition was both vehement and
widespread and the proposal was subsequently withdrawn. But the lesson
had been learned and people realised that the heritage of the Dedham
Vale and its villages needed protection and the Society came into being.
Society’s influence has been widespread and many campaigns
have been fought with a great deal of success. Bodies such as
the water and electricity-generating companies, building-developers
and, most recently, the Civil Aviation Authority have all been
persuaded that their proposals have not been in the interest
of the fragile nature of this tiny AONB.
for change is immense, driven by the inexorable rise in the numbers
of people moving to the south-east of England and those with
commercial interests seeking opportunities to invest. The minor
roads of the Vale are becoming even busier to cope with traffic
generated by the development in both housing and industry creeping
nearer to the edge of the valley from Colchester to the south
and Ipswich to the north.
has become a serious problem in recent years and despite the
best efforts of highway engineers to install more energy-efficient
road-lighting systems, the night-sky is disappearing. New sources
of this modern curse are golf-driving ranges and the illumination
of the docks at Felixstowe and, imminently, Bathside Bay container
terminal at Harwich.
or course, the Society is ever-vigilant about the day-to-day
planning applications which inevitably arise and require comment
to the relevant authorities.
The Dedham Vale Society has 4 officers, 2 planning secretaries and a committee, who meet 3 times a year. Their names are listed under ‘Contact’ in the navigation menu. Sub-committees are sometimes formed to tackle specific issues. You can keep up to date with current issues under ‘Meetings’ in the navigation menu.
John Constable, The Vale of Dedham, 1827-8
An Annual General
Meeting is held at a local village hall, usually in September, at
which the official business of the Society’s work
the year is discussed, followed by a talk by a guest speaker and
refreshments and members are of course most welcome to attend and
participate. We also hold a summer party for members and potential
new members at an attractive venue in the Vale.
The Dedham Vale Society is a registered charity, number 246007.
IF YOU VALUE THE FRAGILE BEAUTY OF THIS UNIQUE PART OF THE ENGLISH COUNTRYSIDE,
PLEASE JOIN US IN
OUR ENDEAVOURS TO PROTECT IT.