Manningtree

001

Manningtree was another daytrip destination in the early 1980s. We came on the train with our bikes from Liverpool Street to explore the country lanes around Dedham and Flatford, but we didn’t see much of Manningtree apart from the station. It was the gateway to Constable country.

002

But this time we lingered a while and found a curious sculpture high on a wall on the High Street.

003

The plaque says it’s by Colin Wilkin. Could this be the same Colin Wilkin whose watercolours we discovered at the Fry Art Gallery? Might this ox have stepped out from one of his paintings?

004

005

006

We’ve been back to Manningtree a few times since that first visit, each time drawn back to see an exhibition at the North House Gallery. It’s a lovely space, always filled with beautiful pieces chosen with great care and integrity to shine in its elegant rooms. I first discovered it thanks to a piece in Galleries magazine by Nicholas Usherwood, and this month he’s written another –

007

North House Gallery has long been one of my favourite small galleries in East Anglia, the combination of setting – looking straight out over the beautiful Stour estuary at Manningtree – and luminous ambience, the converted house/studio space of the early Modernist painter Blair Hughes Stanton, giving it an ambience that is hard to equal. And it also has, in artist/owner Penny Hughes Stanton, a curator of wit and imagination as her latest mixed summer show, ‘Gone to the Beach’ makes plain – 13 artists, many of them based in the region, being invited to “all aspects of summer by the sea.” Invidious to pick names but I love Esmond Bingham’s edgy model beach huts and stilt houses, and Simon Carter’s seashore abstractions.

008

Three paintings by Daisy Cook.

009

Two paintings by Ffiona Lewis and four by Daisy Cook.

010

River by Daisy Cook

011

Work by Chris Gough, Esmond Bingham and Jason Hicklin.

012

Huts by Esmond Bingham.

013

Etchings by Michael Flint and engravings by Neil Bousfield.

014

015

Remakes & Sequels 11 by Michael Flint.

016

Three paintings by Simon Carter.

017

On Eccles Beach by Neil Bousfield.

Penelope Hughes-Stanton welcomed us to her home with fresh brewed coffee in wonky cups then opened her cupboards to show us more Neil Bousfield prints and very kindly gave us a catalogue for an earlier exhibition of work by Telfer Stokes.

018

North House Gallery is a great place, full of charm and originality and historic printing presses, and I would heartily recommend a visit immediately – www.northhousegallery.co.uk.

019

020

021

Then a walk along The Walls, the common land of saltings and mudflats from Manningtree to Mistley.

022

Mistley Towers are all that remain of a Georgian church designed by Robert Adam in 1776.

023

Mistley Quay was out of bounds, its future uncertain, private wharf or village green? Free the Quay.

024

The Mistley Thorn was perfect for lunch, serving gourmet food and Adnams ales, a great combination.

025

A notice on the wall says Matthew Hopkins, the notorious Witchfinder General, once owned the pub.

026

"Old Knobbley" - an ancient Essex oak tree with his own website!

It was only later, as I was writing this, that I discovered we’d been within reach of a remarkable oak tree in Mistley. I wish I’d known, it looks fantastic. It’s called Old Knobbley and it even has its own website, www.oldknobbley.com, and it can be found here. No excuses now for missing it next time.

028

After lunch we returned to Manningtree and followed the Stour path upriver to Flatford.

029

030

031

032

033

034

038

039

An oystercatcher wading in the shallows.

040

A cormorant drying its wings.

041

A small tortoiseshell basking in the sun.

042

043

044

045

We arrived at Flatford Bridge just in time for tea, and remembered how we’d come here a year ago from the opposite direction – Flatford Mill.

047

048

A glimpse of Willy Lott’s Cottage.

049

We retraced our steps along by the sluice gates at Dedham Vale.

050

051

052

053

054

The scent of warm chamomile trodden underfoot fills the path with its familiar sweet perfume.

055

056

IMG_1350

056a

057

IMG_1351

058

059

060

062

063

North House Gallery / Flatford Bridge Cottage

If you enjoyed this post then you might also like to see Manningtree (Slight Return).

Frames of reference
This entry was posted in Art, Birds, Maps, Pubs, Sheds, Trees, Walks, Waterways and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Manningtree

  1. Diana Hale says:

    Lovely gallery in one of my favourite places – have been several times myself. My partner has a few Blair Hughes Stanton prints, which was why we first went to the gallery. You didn’t go to see the new addition to the area – Grayson Perry’s House for Julie in Wrabness?

    • My original idea was to walk to Flatford and back then walk from Bradfield to Wrabness, so that I could say we’d ‘Gone to the Beach’, like the title of the North House Gallery exhibition, but there just wasn’t time. I had no idea the Grayson Perry house was there! I’ve not been paying attention. Thanks for the recommendation, and now I’ve even more reason to go back.

  2. Pingback: Manningtree (Slight Return) | Frames of Reference

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.