Nayland sits in the Dedham Vale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty; this is bucolic Constable Country, littered with the remnants of the once-booming woollen cloth trade. As one would hope from a Grade II-listed home with 18th-century pedigree, this cottage has a charming asymmetry; a framework of innumerable original timbers weaves itself into walls, ceilings and floors. The interiors have been sensitively decorated with a wonderfully rich colour palette, bringing warmth and character to every room. A long and established garden runs out the back, complete with a well-connected summer house, perfect for work or rest.
Setting the Scene
The streets of Nayland are lined with a tapestry of listed buildings; this cottage, sitting at its centre, has such abundant character that it happily earns its place nestled amongst the best.
Nayland established itself as a medieval market town and soon became a centre for the wool trade in Suffolk. The village was home to numerous wealthy cloth merchants who built many of the fine Tudor houses that line the streets.
Following the decline of the cloth industry in the early 18th century, other activities such as soap making, tanning, malting and brewing became more prevalent. As in the case of Bear Street, several of the timber-framed buildings were given fashionable brick or plaster facades by the local artisans that lived within them, preserving their vernacular heritage to this day. For more information, please see the History section.
The Grand Tour
The cottage sits beside its twin; both are defined by steeply pitched tiled roofs, overhanging eaves and offset front doors. While the house retains its original floorplan and many period details, it has been sympathetically restored and renovated to create a home that is fit for the modern age.
The cosy dining room is defined and ornamented by the house’s original timber frame; at its centre sits a large brick inglenook fireplace, complete with wood burner and original bread oven. To the side, integrated bespoke joinery provides plenty of accessible storage space.
Stepping down, the snug is a wonderfully light and comfortable space lit by a large, well-proportioned sash window. The walls are painted ‘Pimlico Green’ by Fenwick and Tilbrook, complemented by the Farrow and Ball ‘Picture Gallery Red’ of the dining room.
The bold yet considered palette continues into the bathroom, where raspberry pink bead and butt panelling wraps the walls and inset bathtub. This striking bathroom is fitted with a sink and a towel warmer.
To the rear of the house, the kitchen is a warm and characterful space for cooking and entertaining, and has a small pantry tucked behind a linen curtain. Brick flooring runs throughout and adds to the cottage-style Farrow and Ball ‘Sudbury Yellow’ shaker joinery. A large Belfast sink is set in front of a tri-partite window with views of the garden that will make a hobby of the washing up.
A small lean to, opposite the rear stable-style door, houses the utility and storage space, perfect for stashing wellies and coats after a long walk through the Stour Valley.
Upstairs, both bedrooms are characterised by steep-sided vaulted ceilings and dormer windows with leadlights, creating an atmosphere of quiet retreat and making the most of the house’s original character. A substantial brick chimney breast defines the principal bedroom, and plenty of integrated shelving has been installed to either side.
The Great Outdoors
The extended rear garden rises gently from a brick-tiled patio area; directly connected to the kitchen it is perfect for summer barbecues. Bookending the garden is a summer house with electricity supply and internet, previously used as an idyllic work-from-home office with a short commute. A project for those with green thumbs, the land extends behind the shed and has potential for a south-facing vegetable garden.
The central lawn is flanked by well-planted perennial borders filled with cottage garden classics: irises, budleja, delphiniums, roses and poppies run along the timber fencing on either side. The linear space is broken up by a mature magnolia tree which, come spring, is heavy with blousy blossom.
Out and About
Nayland sits deep in the Dedham Vale AONB, straddling the River Stour as it meanders gently towards the sea. Clustered around the interlocking Bear Street and Mill Street, the village has all the typical accoutrements one would expect: a Grade I-listed church, primary school, GP surgery, pub and, at its heart, the fantastic Mill Street Store and Deli. Colchester and Ipswich are both easily accessible by car for work or more serious shopping.
As the former capital of Roman Britain, Colchester is steeped in history, home to the beautiful ruins of Colchester Castle, the Roman Theatre and St Botolph’s Priory. The town has an excellent range of galleries, cafés and restaurants, including the Firstsite gallery, The Minories and Hollytrees Museum.
Access to the surrounding countryside is immediate; the Stour Valley Path runs right through the middle of the village to Dedham, Flatford and the coast beyond. The Guardian recently described the Harwich peninsula as a ‘revelation’ and ‘like Lymington or Rye, without the price tags’.
The area is extremely well connected; nearby Colchester station provides regular rail services to London Liverpool Street in 50 minutes. The A12 is easily accessed from the area and offers access to the M25, London, the Suffolk coastline and the south-east.
Council Tax Band: H
Nayland is on the north and east banks of the River Stour, whose waters divide Suffolk and Essex. Roman tile, flint and pottery suggests the earliest occupation of the area began at Court Knoll, now a registered monument. Nayland’s name is itself a derivation of the Anglo Saxon ‘Eiland’ meaning ‘at the island’ as it sits on higher ground in the low-lying valley. The oldest medieval development probably took place below this point, following the route taken by the old Colchester to Sudbury Road, and the village has grown from this historic centre outward.
Until the late 14th century, Nayland was over-shadowed by its neighbour Stoke-by-Nayland, its impressive church of St James being only a ‘chapel of ease’ for Stoke Parish. However, Nayland prospered, thanks to the expanding wool trade prevalent throughout the 16th and 17th centuries, and soon became an important weaving centre in Suffolk. The medieval clothiers who once inhabited the village are primarily responsible for many of its more prestigious buildings, while some of the consistency of character of the buildings, such as this cottage and its neighbour, is a result of the medieval practice of owning property for rent, often in groups, and they offer an important glimpse of medieval artisan lifestyles.
Although the wool trade soon declined, by the beginning of the 18th the ‘Golden Age’ of local agriculture was beginning and activities such as brewing, malting, milling, tanning leather and soap making became more important.
Later, works to the river made it navigable from Manningtree to Sudbury in Suffolk, and aided the commercial interests of the village in the 18th century as coal and stone were brought upriver, and chalk and bricks sent back down.
The present historic buildings within the Nayland Conservation Area span a development period in excess of five hundred years and contain a variety of nationally important listed buildings. Due to its geology, Suffolk is a county of diverse buildings materials and Nayland is evidence of the typical vernacular dominated by timber framed buildings and later red or white brick buildings as stone was difficult to quarry from the surrounding chalklands.
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