Should you find yourself heading to Countable Country to immerse yourself in the stunning Suffolk/ Essex countryside that so inspired one of our greatest artists, The Vintage Magazine can thoroughly recommend staying at Maison Talbooth as a ‘base’ to explore the Dedham area.
Maison Talbooth is part of a Group – a family run business who have developed their own style with each addition to the group. This Victorian Country House enjoys a superb position on a bluff overlooking the Stour River valley, stretching away to the Mediaeval church at Stratford St.Mary.
The Internationally Recognised Le Talbooth Restaurant
Back in 1969, the late Gerald Milsom, opened Maison Talbooth as the accommodation arm of his restaurant, Le Talbooth, beautifully placed on the banks of the River Stour. He was somewhat of a trail blazer, dispensing with room numbers and replacing them with the names of famous literary giants and added to this there was a black and white television in every room!
De-Luxe Room – Wordsworth
Their attention to detail shines through every aspect of this hotel from the individually decorated luxurious suites, twelve in all, each named after an English poet. They all have luxuriously fitted bathrooms and some have their own hot tubs – so no cramped spaces here. The traditional ‘Wordsworth’, ‘Shelley’ and ‘Betjemen’ suites have the best views that have remained unchanged since John Constable painted it in the 1700s, whilst ‘Tennyson’ will amuse Beatle fans.
Superior Room – Tennyson
From Maison Talbooth it is a short drive to the epicentre of Constable Country, Dedham and thence by a meandering walk along the River Stour to Flatford Mill. Dedham itself is a very pretty town with the Munnings Museum, art & craft gallery, antique shops and delightful church backing onto the quintessentially English cricket pitch.
Suffolk is famous for its big skies which inspired not only Constable, but Alfred Munnings, Edward Seago, and Turner. It was Constable’s interpretation of lightness and brightness in his painting, The Hay Wain, that caused it to triumph when it was exhibited at The Salon in Paris in 1824. Constable’s innovative approach to capturing landscape and his philosophy on art inspired and influenced his contemporaries, Géricault and Delacroix and the French Impressionists of the late 19th century.
So after an exhilarating day of cultural and inspirational pursuits, returning to the tranquillity and comfort of Maison Talbooth is a welcome relief. However if you still have some energy left, the hotel provides more activity. There is the all weather tennis court, the pool heated to 85 degrees throughout the year, and the Jacuzzi offering the opportunity to lay back and let the bubbles ease away any stresses with the aid of a glass of fizz on the side obtained from the honesty bar in the Pool House. Another pleasing touch is the open air log fire surrounded by cushioned garden sofas with woollen rugs under which I huddled whilst my husband pounded up and down in the warmth of the pool. Finally for more pampering there is the hotel’s Spa and Treatment Rooms.
There are no evening meals at Maison Talbooth but this is no inconvenience. As soon as you are ready the hotel’s Range Rover Vogue chauffeurs you to Milsoms – the group’s other hotel – a two minute journey away. Milsoms is described by them as a relaxed bar/brasserie and hotel. There is no formal booking and no time limit to how long you can linger over your meal. The range of food is impressive and the choice, eclectic. It certainly is informal but yet is a very stylish setting.
Returning again by chauffer to the hotel one is guaranteed a good night’s sleep between the Egyptian cotton sheets and comfortable large bed and in the morning the prospect of a leisurely breakfast.
I awoke at about 5am and the sun was rising over the wonderful Church in Dedham a few miles away, and there was a mist hanging in the Valley, and the effect was quite stunning; it is easy to see why so many artists have been drawn to this magical valley.
Chrissy Jarman, Features Editor of The Vintage Magazine