Built originally in 1705 and became the inheritance of John Constables fathers ‘Golding’ estate, the bridge at Flatford was probably amongst John Constables earliest recollections and was indeed included in many of his sketches over the years.
The original bridge was built in the same way as the bridge at Dedham Mill was a wooden structure supported by two pairs of sturdy posts standing in the river with abutments at either end, and was a typical example of traditional bridge construction all along the Stour of this time, and with busy life on the River during the 18th & 19 century meant that these earlier bridges had to undergo widening to accommodate the barges so had vertical supports added to both sides.
By 1907 the original bridge was in need of serious repair and so after a fundraising campaign run by Mr Hain Friswell and Major Barthorp, both of East Bergholt it was rebuilt using 30 tons of oak.
In 1927 there was talk of replacing both Flatford Bridge and Fen Bridge with modern iron structures, however fortunately was overturned due to local objections.
The bridge you see today is in the original design but another oak replacement from 1957.
The crossing has served many purposes over the years. Initially as the main route between Flatford & Dedham for people, horse and cart, cattle, and perhaps to for tow horses to both cross and to pull out the barges from the dry dock once it had been flooded, to today for both tourism and for the local farmers to bring their cattle up from the fields.