Stoke-by-Nayland lies a few miles inland from Harwich. Its church, with an imposing fifteenth-century tower, appears frequently in Constable's drawings between 1810 and 1814. Around this time the great painter of British landscapes came to maturity as an oil painter. These canvasses reflect a new confidence as does his masterpiece Dedham Vale. Milsom's Hotel in Dedham is only five miles away from Stoke-by-Nayland in the direction of Colchester. It's a small informal hotel with the feel of a Victorian vicarage and a comfortable library overlooking the garden.
David Hockney created a sensation in 2012 with his exhibition The Bigger Picture at London's Royal Academy. Many of his vivid landscape paintings were inspired by journeys taken across East Yorkshire. The Road Across the Wolds and The Big Hawthorn were painted near Rudston, home to the tallest standing stone in Britain. Hockney would pass through Rudston on his way to Scarborough from his studio in Bridlington. En route he'd also pass Ox Pasture Hall Country Hotel, which sits in the North Yorkshire Moors National Park, just outside Scarborough.
In 1788 Reynolds painted one of his best-known and most idyllic landscapes, The Thames from Richmond Hill. Very close to where he must have sketched this picture, visitors can stay at The Petersham Hotel. Just eight miles from the centre of London, the Petersham feels remarkably rural with panoramic views of the Thames and its water meadows. The hotel dates from the Victorian era but has a modern award-winning restaurant. Hampton Court Palace and the Royal Richmond Park are also nearby.
While he was living in Ipswich Gainsbrough declared, "I'm sick of portraits, and wish very much to take my viol-da-gam and walk off to some sweet village, where I can paint landskips” (sic). His painting of Holywells Park in Ipswich is the only landscape to survive from his Ipswich years. Gainsborough would have also known sixteenth-century Hintlesham Hall, a two-hour walk outside Ipswich but only twenty minutes in the car today. This Elizabethan manor house is approached down a lovely long driveway and has country views that the artist would have relished.
One of the most famous pieces of modern sculpture is Anthony Gormley's 20-metre Angel of the North (1998) which stands on a hill known as Low Fell, overlooking the A1 in Gateshead. Visitors to this part of the world should stay five miles to the north at Newcastle's Hotel du Vin, an upmarket hotel for wine-lovers that's housed inside the former Tyne Tees Steam Shipping Company. The views over the River Tyne and the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art are truly impressive.
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