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Two much-loved inns in Suffolk and Essex, with imaginative seasonal menus, a fabulous drinks selection, and beautiful countryside surroundings. Stay at one or stay at both. This pair provides perfect bases for exploring the surrounding area. Driving time between the inns is 1 hour 3 minutes.
Pairing notes: Country, Great food, Cultural, Heritage, Great wines / drinks
Reopened in 2020 following devastating fire; good modern British food; stunning new bedrooms; bold interior design has the wow factor.
Like a pheonix rising from the ashes, a new-look Three Blackbirds was unveiled in March 2020 by the Chestnut Group following a painstaking two-year rebuild that restored its original 17th-century charm, whilst incorporating some contemporary new features and a bold design.
Step inside and expect to be wowed in typical Chestnut style, with vibrant colours and stylish retro furnishings combining successfully with bare brick walls, beams and ancient fireplaces. Nine stunning bedrooms in the new-build Barn at the rear of the pub are the icing on the cake.
Picture-book setting for this historic inn noted for delicious Italian-inspired food, decent wines and charming period rooms.
Step inside this 15th-century coaching inn, deep in the heart of Constable country, and you'll discover a typical village pub. The Sun Inn boasts beamed ceilings, old black timbers, open fires, stripped wooden floors and plenty of panelling.
Whilst it's a laid-back pub serving local ales in a comfortable front bar, it's also an ideal spot for lingering meals in a rambling, atmospheric restaurant. With its smart rural-chic bedrooms, it's also the perfect weekend getaway. The restaurant is known for its delicious Italian-inspired food and excellent wine list, both of which have won various accolades.
Close to Bury St Edmunds, Ickworth's spectacular Rotunda was commissioned by the 4th Earl of Bristol to house his priceless artefacts collected on tours around Europe in the 18th century. The Italianate garden includes box hedges and Mediterranean planting.
At Wicken Fen, you can discover a secluded world of flowering meadows and reedbeds as described by the National Trust who manage the site as 'a window onto a lost fenland landscape'. Here, you'll find hen harriers and bitterns, dragonflies, moths and wildfowl. There are also herds of Highland cattle and Konik ponies.
Lord 'Ned' Iveagh and his family have created a delightful emporium at the heart of the family 'farm' (the Elveden Estate - the largest ring-fenced arable land in the UK), full of delicious foodie, retail and leisure opportunities. The food hall and attached café-restaurant, full of estate produce are just part of the appeal. Elveden's Christmas experience is a worthy discovery.
There's plenty to keep you entertained around the inn; 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, just 5 minutes walk away from the inn.
Guests looking for some creative activities can head to the Munnings Art Museum close by in Dedham, previously 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.
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. History lovers will enjoy Lavenham Guildhall, 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.