Essex is full of beautiful villages and towns, many of which could be the setting of a fairytale.
But one area in Essex has been singled out for its “outstanding natural beauty”, and rated one of the best places to live in the UK.
The Times and the Sunday Times have compiled a list of the best places in the UK to live in, and Essex’s very own Dedham Vale is one of them.
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Right on the border of Essex and Suffolk, Dedham Vale is an ‘Area of Natural Beauty’ (AONB), which is an area which has been designated as an important landscape, and is cared for by a dedicated team of people.
Inside Dedham Vale are several villages, including Dedham, which art historian Nikolaus Pevsner called “easily the most attractive small town in Essex.”
Dedham is situated along the River Stour, giving the town a riverside charm, as well as bringing wildlife and nature into the community.
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The Times says that “living here means embracing nature”, making it the perfect spot for birdwatching, and many residents grow their own fruit and veg in their gardens or allotments.
Dedham Vale is full of idyllic countryside walks, cycle routes and opportunities for watersports, including boating up and down the river.
Dedham itself, formerly a rich wool and market town, is now a beautiful village in Dedham Vale with a late 15th century church, and several Grade I listed buildings.
The Old Grammar School was founded by Elizabeth I, while Southfields, a Grade I listed building, is considered the most splendid of the many medieval buildings in the village.
In the village is a strong community, with tennis, football and cricket clubs, a primary school rated ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted, and lots of independent shops.
The Times mentions The Sun Inn as a great place to go for a Sunday roast (three courses for £27.50), and shouts out fine-dining restaurants Milsoms and Le Talbooth, and the Old Bakery Cafe for atmosphere and community vibes.
The closest train station to the village is Manningtree, and from there it’s around 2 hours to London.
Many of the residents in Dedham and the surrounding villages are commuters to and from London and Ipswich, but for those working from home, broadband is good, with superfast coverage and some full fibre towards the north east.
And there are plenty of great schools nearby, as well as being able to attend Colchester’s selective grammars.
As the Times says, “if you like a perfect combination of nature and nurture” then Dedham Vale is definitely not to be overlooked.
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