The Sun Inn Pub with rooms in Dedham, Essex

Prices from:
£85 per night

David Hancock says:

  • Historic inn in picture-book village
  • Beams and period features abound
  • Informal, laid-back vibe
  • Delicious Italian-inspired food
  • Cracking wine list – small producers
  • Rooms ooze charm and character

PerkInn Places Perk

Complimentary glass of sparkling wine before dinner

Sticky FingersGood for WalkingCandlelitClose to WaterGreen Fingers90 Minutes from LondonNo Car Needed15 Minutes from the MotorwayPrivate Dining

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Overview

The Sun Inn Dedham, Essex, CO7 6DF

The personal touch

Former London gastropub manager Piers Baker swapped the city for the country in 2003 and set about restoring and breathing new life into this 15th-century coaching inn deep in the heart of Constable country. As village pubs go in this historic part of the world, the Sun Inn Dedham presents a pretty typical look, with beamed ceilings, old black timbers, several open fires, stripped wooden floors and plenty of panelling. But what sets this place apart is its drive and ambition, and the fact that it has really succeeded in its aspirations: as a laid-back pub serving local ales in a comfortable front bar; as a great place for lingering meals in a rambling, atmospheric restaurant; and, with its smart rural-chic bedrooms, as the perfect weekend getaway. The mood is congenial, relaxed and family-friendly, with jazz and Latin American background music adding to the appeal, and there are newspapers to read, board games to play, and the panelled lounge has deep sofas to sink into, perfect after a walk to Constable’s Flatford Mill, or a memorable Italian-inspired meal. A real gem.

Sticky fingers

Children of all ages are welcome and they have their own menu (all freshly prepared dishes) at the weekends and Bank Holidays. Children can be accommodated overnight (£15 including breakfast) and a travel cot, z-bed or roll out mattress can be provided.

Muddy paws

Dogs are welcome in the bar but not allowed in the bedrooms.

Alfresco

On sunny days dine alfresco on the sheltered rear terrace or in the peaceful walled garden, which has its own bar.

What’s on?

You can take off for the day on one of the inn’s 8 bikes, which come with helmets and maps, or you can borrow an Ordnance Survey map if you want to explore one of the excellent walks from Dedham. You can also hire rowing boats from Dedham Boathouse (April-October), which is just 5 minutes walk away from the inn.

What’s the Damage?
7 doubles: £145 (single £75 – £130); dinner, bed & breakfast £190; seasonal 2-night sleepover offers (with dinner) £360-£400.

What Else?

  • All credit cards taken (exc American Express)
  • Alfresco dining
  • Private dining
  • Parking

Gongs
AA 2 Rosettes; Waitrose Good Food Guide (Wine List of the Year 2015); Good Hotel Guide; Sawday’s Local, Seasonal & Organic Produce Award

Sleep

The Sun Inn Dedham, Essex, CO7 6DF

Do not disturb

Half-timbered walls, dark beams, wonky wood floors, feature period fireplaces and some imaginative auction room and junk shop finds make up the five character bedrooms in the ancient inn, all were stylishly spruced up in early 2016 . Two further, more contemporary rooms (Butchers & Dovecot), opened in 2011, are located above the dining room and accessed via an outside Elizabethan staircase. All come with big romantic beds, including a grand four-poster and brass beds (made by the Original Bedstead Company), sumptuous white linen, plump pillows, fat lamps and elegant natural fabrics, and gilt-edged mirrors and family heirloom paintings on pastel Little Green or Farrow & Ball painted walls. Bathrooms may be compact, but they have been put together with the same modern for detail and have great showers – only two can fit a bath in.

Creature comforts

Miller Harris toiletries; bathrobes; coffee sourced direct from farms in collaboration with Tate Galleries, Jing tea & home-made flapjack; Somnus mattresses; Brinkhaus goose down duvets & pillows; morning newspaper.

Gadgets

HD digital TV; Roberts radio/CD/i-pod dock; free wi-fi.

What’s for breakfast?

Dorset cereals; porridge; fruit compote; cured meats; White’s Farm apple & pear juice; fresh squeezed orange juice; smoked haddock omelette ‘Arnold Bennett’; smoked salmon, scrambled eggs, chives, crème fraiche, muffin; frittata; American-style pancake with fruit coulis; The Fry Up

What’s the Damage?
7 doubles: £145 (single £75 – £130); dinner, bed & breakfast £190; seasonal 2-night sleepover offers (with dinner) £360-£400.

What Else?

  • All credit cards taken (exc American Express)
  • Alfresco dining
  • Private dining
  • Parking

Gongs
AA 2 Rosettes; Waitrose Good Food Guide (Wine List of the Year 2015); Good Hotel Guide; Sawday’s Local, Seasonal & Organic Produce Award

Eat & Drink

The Sun Inn Dedham, Essex, CO7 6DF

Mastering the menu

Behind all the ancient beams and timbering is a kitchen with a young, modern attitude, beavering away and producing a breezy line-up of appealing modern British dishes with strong Italian influences. Head chef Jack Levine, an Italophile, delivers short, imaginative seasonal menus, his repertoire built around top-notch produce delivered daily from local farmers, fishermen and growers, and quality ingredients from Italian artisan producers, notably olive oil, vinegar, grains and pulses. From the daily menu, share the plate of antipasti (fresh crab crostini, Parma ham with olives, Mersea Rock Oysters), or tuck into a rich and thick Tuscan bean soup filled with black cabbage and autumn vegetables. Follow with calf’s liver with Marsala, sage, olive oil potato puree and spinach, leaving room for hazelnut and espresso cake with Vin Santo ice cream. A bar menu is served at lunchtime and all day (until 6pm) Friday to Sunday.

On the menu

(Starters £5-£6.85; main courses £12.85-£18.50; puddings £5.85-£7.75)
Celeriac & black cabbage soup, parmesan bruschetta
Pasta with squid & ink, orange zest, garlic & dill
Wild sea bass baked with basil, Vermouth, lentils, samphire
Salt marsh lamb, onion, baby turnips, peas, bread beans, mint
Mark Hall’s Estate venison casserole, Chianti Classico, swede, wet polenta, thyme
Pear & almond tart, mascarpone cream
Pannacotta with Grappa & raspberries

Foodie Extras

The monthly themed wine dinners on a Thursday evening (September to May) with wine expert Hamish Anderson are worth experiencing (£55; 4/5 courses; 8-10 wines). With 24 hours notice the kitchen will rustle up a delicious picnic lunch for your day out on the river (boats can be hired from the Boathouse in Dedham (April-October) for a row to Flatford) or exploring the Suffolk coast; light lunch £8.75; full-on lunch £15, replete with picnic set and rug, and you get 25% off any drinks from the bar list.

Time to Eat

Breakfast: 8am – 9.30am (8.15am – 9.45am Saturday & Sunday)
Lunch: 12 noon – 2.30pm (3pm Friday & Saturday)
Bar menu: served until 6pm Friday – Sunday)
Dinner: 6pm – 9.30pm

Local, local, local

Game, beef, lamb pork & veal: Willshere & Sons, Mark’s Tey (www.awillsherandson.co.uk)
Chickens: Sutton Hoo Chickens, Hasketon, Suffolk (www.suttonhoochicken.co.uk)
Quails: Norfolk Quails, Fakenham (www.norfolkquail.co.uk)
Line-caught, seasonal inshore fish from local & south coast days boats: Ben’s Fish, East Mersea (www.bensfishmersea.co.uk) and Little Fish Company (day boats from Wivenhoe)
Free-range eggs: Gate Farm Eggs, Capel St Mary
Seasonal fruit & vegetables from local growers like Eric Locke who grows specific vegetables for us such as Italian varieties of courgettes, borlotti beans, chillis, peppers and the best Maris Bard new potatoes dug a couple of hours before serving.
British cheeses: Hamish Johnston, Woodbridge, Suffolk (www.hamishjohnston.com)
Ice cream: Jane Hadley, Colne Engaine (www.handmadebyhadleys.co.uk)
Coffee: supplied by Piers’ friend Hamish Anderson at Tate Galleries who works with farmers directly and pays 50% more than Fair Trade prices.
Jing Tea: again, a company who works direct with farmers.

Behind the bar

Stand at the impressive bar, made from a huge slab of local elm, and expect to be bamboozled by the choice of drinks on and behind it. On tap, you’ll find local real ales from Adnams (Broadside), Crouch Vale (Brewer’s Gold) and guest breweries, perhaps Oakham JHB, alongside Suffolk lager from Calvors Brewery, Black Isle Organic Porter, local Aspall’s Harry Sparrow Suffolk Cyder, and keg Brew Dog. Look to the shelves for boutique vodka and gins from Sipsmith, Chase Sacred, and gin from Essex distillers Hayman’s. Equally not mainstream is the range of 15 malt whiskies and the adventurous wine list (Waitrose Good Food Guide Wine List of the Year 2015) that majors in Italy and France; 20 by the glass and carafe.

Bar snacks

Available Monday – Saturday lunch and Sunday to Thursday dinner
Black pudding Scotch egg, celeriac remoulade
Gin-cured salmon, blinis, dill pickles
Fennel & sea salt pork scratchings
Crab on sourdough bread, curried mayonnaise, apple salad
Lamb patti, harissa, pickled chillies, brioche bun (lunch only)

Time at the bar

11am – 11pm

What’s the Damage?
7 doubles: £145 (single £75 – £130); dinner, bed & breakfast £190; seasonal 2-night sleepover offers (with dinner) £360-£400.

What Else?

  • All credit cards taken (exc American Express)
  • Alfresco dining
  • Private dining
  • Parking

Gongs
AA 2 Rosettes; Waitrose Good Food Guide (Wine List of the Year 2015); Good Hotel Guide; Sawday’s Local, Seasonal & Organic Produce Award

Food Trail

Take it back home
Tour the brewery that brewed your favourite pint, visit the shop on the farm that reared your delicious Sunday roast beef, and seek out the roadside stalls selling the local crab and samphire on the inn’s menu, the Food Trail features the local artisan producers and suppliers where you can buy to enjoy at home.

Change of scenery
Looking for a pub for lunch following a country walk, a different venue for dinner, or a good café for coffee, light lunch or afternoon tea, then the best in the area are listed below. If you find a new and exciting eatery in the area that’s worthy of a mention on the Food Trail, then please to do let us know – gabrielle@innplaces.co.uk.

1 Inn Location - The Sun Inn

2

Hall Farm Cafe Restaurant, Stratford St Mary CO7 6LS

Next door to a well-stocked farm shop, get here early or late for a chance of a table such is the popularity for the simple good value country cooking, using great local ingredients such as the farm's beef, lamb and potatoes.

4

Suffolk Food Hall, Wherstead IP9 2AB

An excellent food lovers' emporium on a real working farm stocking fine produce such as East Anglian cheese, bread from their bakery, charcuterie as well as their own reared rare breed meat, Suffolk coast fish and locally-grown vegetables. They have a smart rustic restaurant with outstanding views of the River Orwell and the iconic road bridge.

5

The Essex Rose Tea House, Dedham CO7 6DE

One of a small group owned by famed jam-makers Wilkins of Tiptree, the 16th century Essex Rose has been a must for a stylish afternoon tea on Dedham High Street for over five decades.

6

Dedham Vale Vineyard, Boxted CO4 5TS

The Dedham Vale Estate is managed by Carters Vineyards and run by the Bunting family. Wine maker Ben Bunting and son Tom are building on the early success of the vineyard, originally planted by International Wine Judge and renowned viticulturist, Mary Mudd, in producing fine still and sparkling wines.

7

The King's Head, Burnt Oak, East Bergholt CO7 6TL

An appetite-inducing wander from Constable's haunt for The Haywain at Flatford Mill, The King's Head is a 17th century free house restaurant and bar. The warm snug with its log-burning stove welcomes dog walkers in winter and in the summer, escape to the courtyard and gardens.

8

Hadleigh Farmers' Market, Hadleigh, IP7 5DT

Hadleigh is delightful small town, especially when they host the first Friday monthly farmers market. Adnams have one of their well-stocked Cellar & Kitchen Shops, there are delis, butchers, vegetable shops and one of the favourites is M W Partridge & Co Ltd, which stocks everything from fertiliser and loo seats to bottle brushes and cake tins, hours of browsing fun.

9

Dove Street Inn, 76 St. Helens Street, Ipswich IP4 2LA

The home tavern for the neighbouring Dove Street Brewery across the road, this is paradise for aleheads, with a vast array of beers on handpump and poured from cask in the taproom. Food is suitably homely and hearty for a proper drinking pub.

10

The Swan at Stratford, Stratford St Mary CO7 6JR

A good pit stop if walking along the river Stour or boating; the Swan's beer garden has its own landing stage. An excellent range of craft beers and real ales put together by beer guru Mark Dorber. An experimental micro-brewery is now installed, to take advantage of their own garden hops. Local, seasonal, interesting food is served and their mean sausage rolls, always on the bar, are a must.

11

Church Street Tavern, 3 Church Street, Colchester CO1 1NF

The Sun's sister establishment, opened in 2014, has a ground floor bar and lounge plus first floor dining room for quirky, smart, local and seasonal cooking. Combine it with a visit to Colchester Castle, Firstsite Contemporary Arts Gallery or some retail shopping!

13

Jimmy's Farm, Wherstead IP9 2AP

While Jamie Oliver's mate Jimmy Doherty is a familiar face on TV, his farm, just off the A14 near Ipswich is a delight. There is simply plenty for families to do - nature trails, feeding rare breed pigs, sheep and cattle, butterfly tents, field kitchens and food festivals. In addition there is a restaurant, farm shop selling their meat and numerous retail outlets such as Joules.

Out & About

1 Inn Location - The Sun Inn

Activities

2

Hintlesham Golf Club, Hintlesham IP8 3JG

You'll be impressed by Hintlesham's impressive facilities and award-winning clubhouse set in 150 acres of Suffolk countryside near Ipswich. Great for players of all abilities.

3

Assington Mill Courses, Assington CO10 5LZ

Fabulous rural crafts tuition centre in an old watermill with over 50 different subjects being tutored in. Learn about growing your own or harvesting wild foods. Lovely home-made lunches part of the appeal.

4

Mersea Island Cookery School, East Mersea CO5 8SX

Run by Amanda Woodcraft, this charming cookery school sits on the same Mersea Island location as Ben's Fish. Not only do you see the fish coming in from the day boats, you get to use them. Amanda attracts tops London chefs such as Chris Gillard (Head Chef of St John's Restaurant).

5

Boating on the Stour CO10 1BB

Enjoy a guided trip in a Canadian canoe along the navigable stretches of the River Stour, heading downstream from Sudbury through Dedham Vale and Constable Country. There’s plenty of wildlife to see en route, and you might even spot an otter. The trips run between April and September.

Shopping

12

Kersey Pottery, Kersey IP7 6DY

Located in a picturesque valley setting in Kersey, near Ipswich, Kersey Pottery has a comprehensive collection of handmade tableware, individually decorated bowls and plates and stoneware with distinctive glazes.

13

Dylan Pym Furniture, Polstead CO6 5AG

Based at Polstead, north of Colchester, Dylan Pym makes handcrafted high quality furniture from solid English hardwood. He takes commissions, too, and encourages customer input.

14

Dedham Arts & Craft Centre, Dedham CO7 6AD

Located in the heart of Constable Country, on the Essex/Suffolk border, the Dedham Art & Craft Centre is housed on three floors in a converted church. With the work of over 60 artisans on display, this is just the place for the casual browser and dedicated shopper. There’s also a welcome tea room; when the weather is fine, pick up a picnic basket and relax by the river.

15

North House Gallery, Manningtree CO11 1AS

Established in 1999, and overlooking the estuary of the River Stour at Manningtree, North House Gallery hosts regular exhibitions of paintings, drawings, sculpture and original prints by contemporary local artists. The gallery is open on Saturdays and by appointment at any other time.

17

Ipswich IP4 1FH

Shopping in East Anglia's historic waterfront town offers a multiple choice of global brands, independent retailers and small shops. Queen Street is the place to make for to hunt out something a bit different.

Places to visit

6

Lavenham Guildhall, Lavenham CO10 9QZ

With its ancient timbers and crooked lines, Lavenham Guildhall is one of many notable buildings in this picturesque medieval village. Inside, you'll find a museum devoted to the history of Lavenham, with fascinating displays depicting 500 years of farming and industry.

7

Flatford Mill, East Bergholt CO7 6UL

Flatford Mill at East Bergholt is managed by the National Trust. Stand in the same spot as Constable and enjoy a view he would recognize - the scene here is featured in his most famous painting, The Hay Wain. Nearby is Bridge Cottage, which includes a small exhibition providing a fascinating insight into the artist and his work.

8

Coggeshall Grange Barn, Coggeshall CO6 1RE

Located near Colchester, Coggeshall Grange Barn is one of the largest medieval timber-framed buildings in Europe. Inside, oak timbers reach up into a magnificent cathedral-like roof. It's an architectural gem and a rare relic dating back eight centuries.

9

The Munnings Art Museum, Dedham CO7 6AZ

The Munnings Collection at Castle Hill in Dedham was home of artist Sir Alfred Munnings. His desire to make his paintings accessible to the public after his death was made possible in 1961, when his widow opened the house for the first time.

10

The Beth Chatto Gardens, Colchester CO7 7DB

Located at Elmstead Market near Colchester, the Beth Chatto Gardens are a perfect example of how an overgrown wasteland can be transformed into a horticultural work of art that is an inspiration to all who visit. There is also a welcome tearoom within the site.

11

Melford Hall, Long Melford CO10 9AA

Devastated by fire in 1942, this Tudor mansion at Long Melford was later restored by the Hyde Parker family in whose possession it remains to this day. Their cousin, Beatrix Potter, was a regular visitor here.

Walking

www.walkinginessex.co.uk/index.php
www.visitessex.com
Essex may not be the most obvious destination for countryside and coastal walking, but within its boundaries is a surprising choice of varied routes – from gentle farmland strolls to hikes along lonely marshes and beside meandering river estuaries. The only way to really appreciate unspoiled Essex is on foot. Constable Country is one of the best areas for exploring and in this vast patchwork of fields and hedgerows, you can imagine the artist John Constable seeking inspiration. On a sunny day in summer, the experience of walking from East Bergholt to Flatford Mill is hard to beat. Equally memorable is a stroll across the picturesque water meadows at Sudbury.

Cycling

www.cycle-route.com
www.visitessex.com
There’s plenty of choice for cycling in this part of Essex. Discover a rich assortment of villages and explore many of the locations used in the much-loved BBC television series Lovejoy. To the west of Dedham is Finchingfield, sometimes described as the most photographed village in England.

Events

www.visitessex.com
www.essex-poetry-festival.co.uk
The Essex events diary brims with fairs and festivals, concert and theatre dates. There are air shows, sporting events, water festivals and walk tours. Among the many fixtures is the Essex Poetry Festival, a month of poetry readings, workshops and open-mic events.

Getting there

Location, Location, Location

By Road: Dedham is signed off A12 just north of Colchester; the Sun Inn is opposite the church in the village centre.

Address:

High Street,, Dedham, Essex, CO7 6DF

Rooms rates & booking

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