A brush with history walking through Suffolk’s lesser-known ‘Constable Country’
- Credit: Archant
Bill Baldry walks through one of Suffolk’s finest parklands – the delightful surroundings of Helmingham Hall.
There is farmland at the start and a lovely green lane at the end of this walk but the central part is through the park at Helmingham Hall with its historic connections and large herds of deer.
From the village hall return along The Street passing the Doberman public house and an attractive mix of cottages. Just before the B1077 turn left and cross two meadows through four metal gates. Head straight uphill across the field towards the oak tree beneath which there is a bench carved from a tree trunk and dedicated to “Dear Friends Jack Kemp and Peter Flatt who worked the fields of Framsden for over 30 years”. Pause to take in the view across the valley to Framsden Mill.
Turn right behind the bench and follow the broad field edge path. At the end of the field go left, uphill with a high hedge on your right. At the top of the field go through a gap and go right. Through the next hedge follow the narrow field edge path, with overgrowing dog roses. Enter the next field and turn immediately left, now with hedge and ditch on left and head for Highrow Wood.
At the wood turn right onto a concrete drive and follow this downhill until the driveway swings to the right where you go straight ahead to a small ash wood. At the road go right for a few yards then left. Squeeze by an old step stile and continue to the next one over the deer fence into the park. In the park pass through a pair of large metal gates and follow the watercourse to a bridge with fine flintwork. John Constable, whose brother was steward of the Tollemache woodlands, lived for some time at Helmingham Rectory, and painted a number of versions of “A Dell in Helmingham Park” here. The oak tree in his picture, with its singular curved trunk, still stands.
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Continue through the parkland looking out for the herds of fallow and red deer. At the end of the park turn left and go back to the obelisk, constructed in about 1860 from bricks of an ornamental 17th Century arboretum on the site. From the obelisk head towards the impressive Helmingham Hall, home to the Tollemache family since 1480. The path swings right then left by the wire mesh fence of the hall gardens and then goes down and over a couple of bridges to exit the park over two more step stiles.
Turn left at the road and pass the gate houses to the hall and the church. At the road junction go right and left and look for a fingerpost pointing across a narrow field strip to a field edge with hedge on the left. At the corner of the field maintain direction over a bridge, bear left and soon go left into a rising meadow and follow the tractor tracks uphill. Maintain direction to the right of the oak tree into the next field then at the end go left into a short wooded section. Pass a pond on the right and go left across the next meadow, which narrows to a point.
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Cross over the ditch beside the handrail, pass another pond on your left and continue to the end. Go left into the wood for a short way before crossing a precarious one plank bridge. Turn left to the corner of the field then right with a small pine wood on your left. At the end of the field go right and continue ahead to a bridge at the field corner. Cross, go left and follow the field edge.
Swing left and right to now have a hedge on your right and follow this field edge with views of the mill and church. Turn right and left down a lovely green lane to the church.
Pass through the churchyard, pause to read the carved inscriptions on the lych-gate and return to the start.