Dedham Vale

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Dedham Vale is a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty on the Essex-Suffolk border in east England. It comprises the area around the River Stour between Manningtree and Bures, including the village of Dedham in Essex. It is part of the area known since the artist's lifetime as Constable Country, as it was made famous by the paintings of John Constable. Among many other works of the area is Dedham Vale 1802 in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

Land use

It supports a viable and diverse agriculture with a mix of farm sizes. The majority of the land in the valley is still farmed despite development pressures. Farming is the primary tool for supporting the area’s landscape and wildlife.


Throughout the valley Eocene and glacial deposits overlay chalk deposited during the Cretaceous period. London Clay and sands are often exposed on the valley sides as the river and its tributaries cut through the deposits. The composition of these layers and where they occur is paramount in determining what species will grow, which habitats can occur and how the area is farmed.


The river is the key landscape focus for the valley, its course is defined by bank side trees and wet meadows. It supports a variety of riparian (river) habitats.

The valley floor has a large areas of functioning floodplain. Water quality is good, meeting levels demanded in regulations. The catchment meets sustainable demands for water supply, flood control and recreational use, whilst...
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