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John Constable, The Leaping Horse, Then and Now

Near Flatford , Suffolk

Location Guide

The Leaping Horse first exhibited in 1825, 56 by 74.75 inches.

Full size oil sketch for The Leaping Horse.

In a letter Constable describes this painting, as "Scene in Suffolk, banks of a navigable river, barge horse leaping on an old bridge, under which is a floodgate and an elibray, river plants and weeds, a moorhen frightened from her nest, near by in the meadows is the fine gothic tower of Dedham."

I don't know what an elibray is/was.

I missed the church, until I read the description, the reason for this is that its not on the photograph, on the original art work its at the extreme left of the picture just on the edge.

So where is this location, well most sources put it on the side of the River Stour, between Dedham and Flatford Mill where the footpath passes over a footbridge by the side of the river to the west of Fen Bridge. This is at grid reference TM064335,  but in this position you are looking away from Dedham which is behind you.

Although you can't see anything except an edge of the church tower in the top image you can see a second tower to the left of it, that appears to be an old castle tower. Both appear to be near to the river, and not far away from our position. There is Castle House at Dedham, but its about half a mile south of the church too far away. Dedham and Dedham Church feature in many of Constable's paintings, but having been over them with a magnifying glass, I can say that none of the others show a castle tower, rather the opposite the church tower is the only item standing up of any height. He generally paints the church far closer than it is. There is no castle tower in the same position in the oil sketch.

There are various streams that join the river at various points, but none of these look as if they would give the right angle to place the church in the shot. He does however like to have a church in his pictures and, for example, has something that looks a little like smaller church in The Cornfield. But there is no church of any type in this location.

So I have gone back to the view, as others have, that this is the position explained above.

Looking east

looking west

The current arrangement with flood protection when the water is above a set level it flows into this stream.

The fenced in stream channel.

Location: John Constable, The Leaping Horse, nr Flatford, Suffolk

Grid Reference: TM064335 Ceremonial County: Suffolk

Map Link: Multimap

Aerial photo: Multimap

Getting there: About one mile west of Flatford Mill just past a footbridge that crosses the river.

Access: Public footpath
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Opening Times: Always available

Charges: None

Nearby Locations:
Other Location Pages: Then and Now Locations     John Constable Painting Locations     John Constables Painting Locations Then and Now   Flatford Mill
Other Relevant Pages: Then and Now Photography








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By: Keith Park  Section: Photography Section Key:
Page Ref: Constable_Leaping_Horse Topic: Comparative Photography  Last Updated: 08/2010


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