East Bergholt Church
This oil study looking at the church from the direction of the village green, barely 100 yards from his birthplace, East Bergholt House.
Constable's maternal grandfather had been the Rector of the East Bergholt Church. When growing up Constable worshipped there on Sundays with his family, walking past it twice on his way to and from school.
John Constable had been childhood friends with Maria Bicknall since first meeting her in 1800, and by this year their friendship had turned to love. Sadly Maria's grandfather Dr Rhudde, then Rector of East Bergholt, opposed their marriage.
Rhudde saw the Constable family as socially inferior to the Bicknell family, and for many years John and Maria had to meet in secret. It was not until October 1816 they were finally allowed to be married when the death of Golding Constable (John,s father) gave Constable an inheritance and a more firm financial footing.
Constable wrote to Maria at that time
‘How unfortunate that I should have been the cause of bringing all into the situation I did with the wretched Doctor – but let us forever dismiss the grievous side of the subject....I am happy in love – an affection exceeding a thousand times my deserts, which has continued so many years, and is yet undiminished....Never will I marry in this world if I marry not you. Truly can I say that for the seven years since I avowed my love for you, I have never done anything that I have considered could have made you any way uncomfortable...’
Yale Centre for British Art.