On the Essex/Suffolk border, in Constable country, a buttercup yellow coaching inn stands at the centre of the village of Dedham. Peer through the mullioned windows or open the striking green door to take in the cheerful atmosphere of The Sun Inn.
Piers Baker took over the scruffy old building in 2003 and filled it with antiques, upmarket furniture and paintings. The result is homely and authentic. The reception is at the front elm bar, where patrons sip local ales. There is a split-level sitting room with a cosy open fire, and a beamed dining area with parquet floors and fresh flowers.
Most of the seven bedrooms face Dedham High Street and the huge windows of St Mary’s church opposite, with the periodic chiming of bells reminding you of the quaintness of this rural village. One room faces the back of the inn, offering more peace to light sleepers (Dovecote). There are painted tables and wardrobes, Robert DAB radios, and paintings that carefully match the colour schemes. The four-poster and half tester beds are the most remarkable, but all bedrooms are comfortable and well equipped.
In good weather, The Sun Inn does justice to its name: at breakfast, tables are draped in white linen, brightening the dining room. At lunch and dinner the menu includes local fish and game, and many items have a Mediterranean twist (you might find pappardelle with lamb ragu, but also poached salt cod among the flavoursome choices).
Bikes are available and the area is full of rural treasures and walking opportunities. A boat trip down the Stour is recommended, or you can visit Constable’s Haywain or take a trip to charming Lavenham.