• Flatford Mill's Willy Lott's Cottage
  • valley farm house
  • Willy Lotts Cottage
  • flatford mill
  • flatford mill
  • Willy Lotts Cottage

Flatford Mill is the first and original field studies centre which was set up in the UK during the 1940’s. It is the centre for Constable Country, set amidst the quintessentially English countryside of the Dedham Vale in Suffolk and sitting on the banks of the River Stour. Flatford Mill runs residential field study visits for school students and provides a very wide range of natural history and art courses.

Customers stay in our internationally important buildings such as Willy Lotts’ House, (built in the 1500’s and made famous by John Constable’s ‘Haywain’ painting), Valley Farm (a medieval great hall built in the 1450’s) and of course the Mill itself that was owned and renovated by the Constable family in the 1700’s.

“The day has given so much more than we expected, keeping the children engaged, questioning and feeling listened to. Thank you FSC.”

Primary School Teacher


  • Capacity: Flatford Mill is made up of four separate accommodation blocks. We have 10 single or twin rooms and a further 15 spacious rooms containing three or more beds, giving a total of 90 beds. There are 19 bedrooms which are either en-suite or have a dedicated suite across the corridor. The remaining six rooms all have their own washbasins and share a new shower and WC suite close by.
  • Car Parking: Coach parking is available for free of charge for FSC customers at the nearby National Trust Car Park. Customer cars and minibuses can use the Centre’s car park at the end of the lane.
  • Children's Facilities: We are an Educational Centre and have games and activities on-site for children aged 8+; however, younger children are welcome.
  • Common Room: We have a Common Room for for schools and adults with table tennis and table football as well sofas, television, DVD player and films, books and board games.
  • Hot and Cold Drinks: We have hot and cold drinks making facilities accessible around the centre.
  • Kitchen: Fully catered services for all dietary needs available, as well as packed lunch making services.
  • Library: We have an extensive range of reference books with an easy reference database, along with chairs and pcs with internet connection
  • Linen: All bedding is provided
  • Outdoor Clothing: You can hire wellingtons, waterproof trousers and jackets
  • Outdoor Facilities: Extensive range on-site and off-site activities including campfire area, river frontage, woodland, grassland, island, vegetable garden nature garden, games field, picnic benches, wildlife pond
  • Shop: Our shop sells drinks, snacks and souvenirs of your stay as well as a selection of FSC publications.
  • WIFI: Free guest WIFI is available through-out the centre.
  • Workrooms: We have five workrooms of varying size seating 16-30 and all are available for hire

Food at our centres

For one day visits you are usually asked to bring a packed lunch unless it is specified otherwise.

Residential visits include freshly prepared seasonal meals, with a hot breakfast, packed lunch and choice of evening meal. Food is sourced locally wherever possible and we can cater for any dietary requirements. All of our residential centres have been awarded the Soil Association’s Food for Life Served Here Bronze Award which recognises organisations which go the extra mile to make sure visitors are receiving healthy, nutritious and sustainable meals.

FSC Accommodation

We want your stay to be as comfortable as possible. Our residential centres offer a range of room sizes and layouts from single and twin up to larger dormitories. Note: not all centres have single/twin rooms. All rooms are subject to availability. Some rooms are en suite and others have shower and toilet facilities close by. Please contact us if you want to discuss your room requirements.

Each centre also has places to relax during any free time such as a lounge, games room and outdoor space.

Explore the centre and surrounding area

Health and Safety

  • Learning Outside the Classroom Quality Badge
  • Carbon Trust Standard
  • Food Hygiene rating: 5*
  • Investors in People
  • Secondary Geography Quality Mark (Geographical Association)
  • Primary Geography Quality Mark (Geographical Association)
  • Eco Centre
  • Green Tourism Award Gold
  • Met Office active participant
  • Safety Shield Health and Safety Award (Moorepay) Gold

How to find us

By Train Our nearest train station is Manningtree, about four miles away from the Centre. It is on the main line from London Liverpool Street to Ipswich/Norwich. The journey time from London is approximately one hour. You can also travel to Manningtree station from the north via Peterborough and Ipswich. For school groups, we can arrange free minibus pick up and return to the train station. For our adult learners, several taxis operate out of Manningtree station and can be pre-booked by us to meet you at the station and return you there at the end of your course. If you have any issues booking transport to and from the station, please contact reception who may be able to help.

By Car The Centre is located between Colchester and Ipswich and is about 10 miles from each, approximately 2 miles from the A12. From the crossroads near the ‘Oranges and Lemons’ cafe in East Bergholt, turn down Flatford Lane. It becomes one-way in your favour after 300m. 300m further on, note the direction arrow to the Field Centre on the tourist sign and turn down a narrow steep-sided lane (do not go into or beyond the Flatford public car park). Bear left at the bottom of the hill. The Centre forecourt is then 200m further on, indicated by an FSC logo and sign on a low wall. Our car park is 150m further down the lane. When you arrive, please announce your arrival at Reception. The entrance is by the sign on the far side of the forecourt.

By Bus, Bike Or On Foot The 93 and 93A bus services between Colchester and Ipswich are operated by Ipswich Buses and run through East Bergholt. Ask for the Kings Head / Oranges and Lemons bus stop and then walk down to the Centre using the ‘By Car’ directions above. The Centre can be reached via the St Edmunds Way (which also goes past Manningtree train station) and Stour Valley footpaths. Grid Reference TM 07693322. The Centre is also within a few kilometres of the Sustrans National Cycle Network Route 1. If you feel inclined and have the wherewithal / sense of adventure, it has been know, for people to use the River Stour and kayak….

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