East Bergholt is a large village on the Suffolk side of Dedham Vale, in an area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, ten miles north of Colchester and eight miles south of Ipswich. The village is famous as being the birthplace of John Constable, the landscape artist. The house where John Constable was born in 1776, was replaced in the 1840s, but there is a plaque on the railings between the church and the village centre to show where his house was. His studio, Moss Cottage in Cemetery Lane, is close to the village shop. His father owned Flatford Mill, which is within walking distance of East Bergholt and was made famous by his son’s paintings.
St. Mary’s Church is closely associated with the Constable family. John Constable married Maria Bicknell and her grandfather was rector at St. Mary’s Church. In the churchyard, is Willy Lott’s grave and the tomb of John Constable’s parents. John Constable died in 1837. He was buried with his wife, Maria, in Hampstead, London. In the South Aisle of St. Mary’s Church, is a memorial stained glass window installed in 1897 and paid for by public subscription. The church was built in the 15th and 16th centuries and does not have a tower or spire. In 1525, work began on a tower financed by Cardinal Wolsey, but he displeased Henry VIII, as he failed to arrange an annulment of his marriage to Catherine of Aragon so that he could marry Anne Boleyn and possibly give him a male heir. Cardinal Wolsey’s fall from grace stopped the construction work. Church bells are normally hung and rung from below by ropes attached to wheels. Without a tower, this was not possible. Instead, in 1531, a wooden bell cage was constructed in the churchyard. The bells are moved by hand by ringers standing next to the bells. The five bells, which weigh over four tons, are believed to be the heaviest bells that are rung in England today.