Award-winning documentary maker David Webb has produced a DVD about the fascinating history of Constable Country.
In his new project the former BBC radio producer, also known as one of the Webb twins from Hi-de-Hi!, journeys through the landscape which inspired one of England’s most famous painters, Suffolk’s John Constable.
The documentary is presented by David’s daughter, TV journalist Victoria Lampard.
Starting in the Dedham Vale, David and Victoria take you on a journey to the Stour estuary, through Colchester and Wivenhoe, Ipswich and Hadleigh before finishing in Lavenham and Sudbury, unearthing a rich history along the way.
David, who won a BBC Gold Award for his documentary ‘A Day Trip to Flanders’ in 2000, said it was a joy to work with his daughter again. “The last project I worked with her on was a history of Mistley, where I grew up,” he said
“When that ended I really wanted to do another project with her and the obvious choice for me was something on John Constable.”
David said much of the history of the area was linked to the county’s booming wool trade.
“In the film we explore the history of Lavenham, the most beautifully preserved medieval village,” said David.
“One of the things we learned about was in its time as a major centre of weaving it paid more in taxes than either York or Lincoln.
“It really gives you a feeling of how important Lavenham was to the area.
“But when the wool trade dried up and the money ran out there was no money left to change or fix the buildings.
“A lot of medieval buildings had Georgian house fronts built onto them in the following years but in Lavenham you don’t see them - there was no money left to change them.”
David also said Lavenham was very nearly the centre of a huge rebellion in the 16th century.
“Ten thousand men gathered in Lavenham ready to march on London as part of a big revolt against a new tax being brought in by Cardinal Wolsey”, he said.
“The signal for the group to begin their march was going to be the village’s church bells but the tax was eventually abandoned.”
The DVD, which is out now, is on sale at the Tourist Information Centres at Lavenham and Sudbury as well as 19 Cooperative stores throughout the area.
David said you can also email him at firstname.lastname@example.org and he will be happy to mail one out.