The Crown Pub with rooms in Stoke by Nayland, Suffolk

Prices from:
£145 per night

David Hancock says:

  • Civilised, personable atmosphere
  • Creative seasonal cooking
  • Boutique bedrooms, very comfortable
  • Top-drawer wine list and wine shop
  • Fabulous setting in Constable country

PerkInn Places Perk

Bottle of House Wine or two glasses of Champagne with dinner

Good for WalkingCandlelitVisit a Stately PilePrivate Dining

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The Crown Stoke by Nayland, Suffolk, CO6 4SE

The personal touch

It’s pleasing to imagine that England’s pre-eminent landscape artist, John Constable, would still recognise the higgledy-piggledy collection of timber-framed houses, the distant medieval churches and the rolling folds of Dedham Vale that surround the rustic-chic, 16th-century Crown at Stoke-by-Nayland. Richard Sunderland and his personable team have created a rip-roaring success here, turning what was a village watering hole into a classy boutique inn with lovingly nurtured gardens, a notable restaurant and a top-drawer wine list (Sunderland used to be sales director at Lay & Wheeler). The Crown also has its own glass-fronted wine shop – an oenophile’s haven stacked with terrific bottles from across the globe (hotel guests can get substantial discounts). Food is also taken seriously here, breakfast is a top shout and there are traditional roasts for all the family on Sundays.

Sticky fingers

The Crown has its own children’s menu. Take your own highchair or cot if needed.

Muddy paws

Well-behaved dogs are welcome at the bar and in the tap room (if it’s not in use). Water bowls are on offer. Guide dogs only in the bedrooms.


Large terraced gardens behind the inn, with a full menu. Lovely borders and grounds, with rolling Constable-country views.

What’s the Damage?
11 doubles/twin: £145 to £225; single from £95. Two-night breaks: £275 midweek to £340 weekends (including dinner).
Sunday night offers – from £150 for dinner and B&B per couple

What Else?

  • All credit cards taken
  • Private dining facilities
  • Alfresco dining
  • Disabled access
  • Parking

AA 2 Rosettes; Harden’s; Michelin; Waitrose Good Food Guide


The Crown Stoke by Nayland, Suffolk, CO6 4SE

Do not disturb

Set in a smart boutique annexe, 11 very appealing modern bedrooms are divided into four types – although space and comfort are key themes throughout. Essentials such as king-size beds, Henderson Russell furniture, Jim Lawrence accessories and Nina Campbell wallpapers come as standard, while Superior, Deluxe and Executive rooms raise the luxury level to super-kingsize, with extra space and larger bathrooms – some including a separate bath and walk-in Matki shower. Upstairs rooms are all about rustic country-house chic, while ground-floor rooms are more cool and contemporary with the bonus of French windows leading out to the grounds and little terrace areas for admiring the views. One room is well set up for disabled access.

Creature comforts

Hand-crafted beds with Egyptian cotton sheets; Damana toiletries; mini bar; White Company Towels.


Flatscreen TVs; Free Wi-Fi and a safe for laptops; DVD and films at reception.


Arrangements for use of the smart spa and gym at Stoke-by-Nayland Golf Club five minutes’ drive away.

What’s for Breakfast?

Scotch porridge with raisins, toasted hazelnuts and syrup; homemade muesli with yoghurt, banana, honey and seeds; pastries such as croissants, pains au chocolat, maple pecan slices; eggs every which way; The Crown ‘Full English’ including flat mushrooms and black pudding; bubble ‘n’ squeak with bacon, eggs and watercress; cafetière or barista coffees, decent teas and herbal tisanes.

What’s the Damage?
11 doubles/twin: £145 to £225; single from £95. Two-night breaks: £275 midweek to £340 weekends (including dinner).
Sunday night offers – from £150 for dinner and B&B per couple

What Else?

  • All credit cards taken
  • Private dining facilities
  • Alfresco dining
  • Disabled access
  • Parking

AA 2 Rosettes; Harden’s; Michelin; Waitrose Good Food Guide

Eat & Drink

The Crown Stoke by Nayland, Suffolk, CO6 4SE

Mastering the menu

Head chef Nick Beaven has plied the stoves at the famous Ivy restaurant in London, so brings bags of experience and changes his produce-led, wine-friendly menu every few weeks to make the most of fresh seasonal produce. His cooking style is rich, generous and indulgent – a comforting mix of reworked British favourites and exciting global flavours tailored to all tastes and budgets. Look for the ‘catch of the day’ on the blackboard, which puts the emphasis on fresh fish from the East Coast boats – the Crown’s beer-battered haddock and chips is a popular stalwart, but the choice might extend to pan-fried cod with wilted spinach, chorizo and crayfish butter and roasted garlic mash. Steaks and game from the local estate please the carnivores, but there’s plenty for vegetarians too. A trio of mini starters and a threesome of bite-size puds suit the ladies-who-lunch more than stouter local farming types. All-day Sunday lunches are also a big attraction here, as is the lunch time set menu – either 2 courses or 3.

On the menu

Smoked haddock and salmon hash, crispy poached egg and bearnaise
Confit duck leg ravioli, Madeira sauce, crispy pancetta
Roast breast of Mallard, confit duck mash, wilted spinach, port and beetroot sauce
Calf’s liver, truffle and celeriac mash, baby onions and bacon
Popcorn pannacotta, grenadine poached rhubarb, rhubarb crisp

Sunday Roasts

Roast Devonshire herd rib of beef, homemade horseradish, Yorkshire pudding and gravy
Roast free-range orchard pork with vegetables and gravy

Time to eat

Breakfast: 7.30am – 10.30am (8am – 10.30am Sunday)
Lunch: 12 noon – 2.30pm (12 noon – 9pm Sunday)
Dinner: 6pm – 9.30pm (10pm Friday & Saturday)

Local, local, local

Fish – West Mersea
Suffolk beef and pork – Clark & Son, Long Melford
Ice creams – Hadley’s, Colne Engaine (
Real ales – Crouch Vale Brewery, South Woodham Ferrers (; Adnams, Southwold (
Woodfordes, Broadland Brewery Norfolk, (
Cider – Aspall, Stowmarket (

Behind the bar

Co-owner Richard Sunderland’s background as sales director of Lay & Wheeler ensures quality in the wine department, and the lengthy list is a joy – properly thought-out and intelligibly presented. There are 35 selections by the glass if you simply want to slake your thirst, although the full line-up runs to around 300 bins – ideal if you fancy something unusual with your dinner. Back at the bar, beer fans also have plenty to cheer about with real ales from top East Anglian breweries including local boys Crouch Vale, plus Adnams, Woodforde’s and Fat Cat; there’s Suffolk cider from Aspall’s too. Otherwise top-notch Illy coffee is expertly served with homemade biscuits to sweeten the brew.

Bar snacks

‘Bar boards’ – an all-day selection of Suffolk tapas bites, perhaps homemade Scotch eggs, game pie, house pork scratchings and decent cheeses; Olives and mixed nuts; Fresh crusty breads, including quirky seasonal specials such as chilli jam and coriander

Time at the bar

10am – 11pm (12 noon – 10pm Sunday)

What’s the Damage?
11 doubles/twin: £145 to £225; single from £95. Two-night breaks: £275 midweek to £340 weekends (including dinner).
Sunday night offers – from £150 for dinner and B&B per couple

What Else?

  • All credit cards taken
  • Private dining facilities
  • Alfresco dining
  • Disabled access
  • Parking

AA 2 Rosettes; Harden’s; Michelin; Waitrose Good Food Guide

Food Trail

Take it back home
Tour the brewery that brewed your favourite pint, visit the shop on the farm that reared your delicious Sunday roast beef, and seek out the roadside stalls selling the local crab and samphire on the inn’s menu, the Food Trail features the local artisan producers and suppliers where you can buy to enjoy at home.

Change of scenery
Looking for a pub for lunch following a country walk, a different venue for dinner, or a good café for coffee, light lunch or afternoon tea, then the best in the area are listed below. If you find a new and exciting eatery in the area that’s worthy of a mention on the Food Trail, then please to do let us know –

1 Inn Location - The Crown


Mill Green Brewery, Edwardstone, Sudbury CO10 5PX

Very green craft brewery using local malt, their own hops and borehole water. Visit their brewery tap on-site, the White Horse in Edwardstone, for their award-winning beers from the barrel, live music, traditional games and regular beer festivals. They also have The Fleece in Boxford.


The Brewery Tap, 21 East Street, Sudbury CO10 2TP

Their own pub is the best place to sample Mauldons' excellent Suffolk beers such as Black Adder Stout from their Sudbury micro-brewery. Food is incredibly simple, salt beef and smoked gammon baps, pork pies or homemade scotch eggs.


The Ram, 5 Market Place, Hadleigh IP7 5DL

A stylish pub-restaurant set in a beautifully revitalised old building in the heart of town. Expect a serious ambition in quite complex dishes but gaining a following.


The Anchor, 26 Court Street, Nayland CO6 4JL

Part of a three-strong pub-restaurant group, perched right on the banks of the river Stour at the heart of Dedham Vale, this lovely village hostelry is well worth combining with a good walk through Constable Country.


Little Greys Farm Eggs, Grays Hall Corner, Little Cornard CO10 0PF

All sorts of eggs available from the farm gate – not just hens but also goose and duck.


Willow Farm, Potash Lane, Polstead Heath CO6 5DL

It’s worth stopping at Willow Farm’s roadside stall for orchard and stone fruit such as apples, plums and pears, or you can ‘pick you own’ seasonal fruits on the farm.


Lower Dairy Farm Shop, Water Lane, Nayland CO6 4JS

The Taylor's farm shop for own reared, well-hung, grass-fed Hereford-Angus beef and proper free-range pork as well as family-made preserves, eggs from their flock and home-grown apples, not forgetting their own horseradish.


Mersea Island Cookery School, East Mersea CO5 8SX

Situated on Mersea Island, ten miles from Colchester, the Cookery School offers interactive hands-on cooking classes with top chefs from popular restaurants. Local produce and lots of seafood are used.


Wheldon's Fruit Farm, Newton Leys, Sudbury CO10 0QE

Growing PYO since the Seventies, now three generations of Wheldons now work the land. Wide range of orchard and stone fruits, berries, vegetables, and you can also buy regional cheeses and locally sourced meats from the farm store.

Out & About

1 Inn Location - The Crown



Assington Mill Courses, Assington CO10 5LZ

Fabulous rural crafts tuition centre in an old watermill with over 50 different subjects being tutored in. Learn about growing your own or harvesting wild foods. Lovely home-made lunches part of the appeal.


Mersea Island Cookery School, East Mersea CO5 8SX

Run by Amanda Woodcraft, this charming cookery school sits on the same Mersea Island location as Ben's Fish. Not only do you see the fish coming in from the day boats, you get to use them. Amanda attracts tops London chefs such as Chris Gillard (Head Chef of St John's Restaurant).


Push Kiting at Clacton CO15 1NG

At Clacton, down on the breezy Essex coast, you can try your hand at kite boarding, kite buggying and push kiting. It doesn't matter whether you are aged eight or eighty, there are instructors on hand to help you get the most out of your day at the seaside.


Great Classic Car Hire, Stowmarket IP14 1EZ

Based near Stowmarket, this is the place to seek an exhilarating alternative means of discovering the extensive countryside of East Anglia. The fleet of vehicles covers British, European and Far Eastern classic cars - a classy, ideal way to explore Suffolk on a perfect summer's day.



Kersey Pottery, Kersey IP7 6DY

Located in a picturesque valley setting in Kersey, near Ipswich, Kersey Pottery has a comprehensive collection of handmade tableware, individually decorated bowls and plates and stoneware with distinctive glazes.


Ipswich IP4 1FH

Shopping in East Anglia's historic waterfront town offers a multiple choice of global brands, independent retailers and small shops. Queen Street is the place to make for to hunt out something a bit different.


Jim Lawrence, The Ironworks, Lady Lane, Hadleigh IP7 6BQ

Fallen in love with the light fittings, door handles and curtains rails in your room at the Crown, then buy them online or visit Jim Lawrence's treasure trove of a showroom and buy them for your own house; home and soft furnishings too.

Places to visit


The Beth Chatto Gardens, Colchester CO7 7DB

Located at Elmstead Market near Colchester, the Beth Chatto Gardens are a perfect example of how an overgrown wasteland can be transformed into a horticultural work of art that is an inspiration to all who visit. There is also a welcome tearoom within the site.


Melford Hall, Long Melford CO10 9AA

Devastated by fire in 1942, this Tudor mansion at Long Melford was later restored by the Hyde Parker family in whose possession it remains to this day. Their cousin, Beatrix Potter, was a regular visitor here.


Sutton Hoo, Woodbridge IP12 3DJ

It's a name that crops up from time to time in history documentaries and travel programmes, but there's nothing to beat actually visiting these atmospheric ancient burial mounds near Woodbridge. Sutton Hoo is where the 7th-century Anglo-Saxon Kings of East Anglia lay buried and undiscovered until they were unearthed in 1938.


Lindsey St.James's Chapel, Hadleigh IP7 6QA

One of the region’s secret gems, this chapel near Hadleigh is just the place for history detectives. The 13th-century place of worship boasts early medieval architecture and flint walls under a thatched roof.


Flatford Mill, East Bergholt CO7 6UL

At Flatford you can stand in the very same spot that Constable stood and spot the same view he did. Study the scenes that inspired him and found expression in his paintings and visit the small exhibition that provides an insight into the man and his talent.


Bourne Mill, Colchester CO2 8RT

A mile to the south of Colchester, Bourne Mill is a Grade I listed building, originally constructed as a fishing lodge and used for banquets and social functions. Expect a working waterwheel, millpond, and woodland that is home to a great variety of wildlife.


Lavenham Guildhall CO10 9QZ

With its ancient timbers and crooked lines, Lavenham Guildhall is one of many notable buildings in this picturesque medieval village. Inside, you’ll find a museum devoted to the history of Lavenham, with fascinating displays depicting 500 years of farming and industry.


Moyse's Hall Museum, Bury St Edmunds IP33 1DX

Overlooking the market place in Bury St Edmunds, this ancient 12th-century building has been a jail, a workhouse and a police station over the years. In its role as a museum, Moyse’s Hall examines the town’s early history and provides a fascinating insight into superstition and witchcraft

The only way to really appreciate unspoiled Essex is on foot. Constable Country is one of the best areas for exploring and against this vast patchwork of fields and hedgerows, you can imagine the artist John Constable out and about on foot in search of inspiration. Walk from East Bergholt to Flatford Mill or stroll the pretty water meadows at Sudbury. Much of Essex is thankfully flat, though if you like your walking to be a bit up and down, try the area around the villages of Newport and Debden south of Saffron Walden. The Brain Valley, between Witham and Braintree, is also popular with walkers, though surprisingly secluded and secret. The Essex coast is a must if you enjoy big skies and sea breezes. North of Harwich the Suffolk Coast Path runs for 50 miles between Felixstowe and Lowestoft and takes in a variety of sea wall stretches, marsh, heath and foreshore.

There’s a great choice of cycle routes and cycling opportunities within the county of Essex and further afield. Explore Lavenham’s woodlands and valleys on a 21-mile trail or embark on the 28-mile Jockey’s Trail in Newmarket. If you enjoyed the much-loved television drama Lovejoy in the 1980s and 90s, you might like to link the many locations used in the series by following a network of very pleasant off-road cycle routes and quiet country lanes.

There’s a multitude of fairs, festivals, concerts and theatre dates to capture your attention while visiting rural Essex. Among the many features is the Essex Poetry Festival, a month of poetry readings, workshops and open mic events. On the coast every August there is the impressive Clacton Air Show, with historic and modern aircraft taking part. For really big, large-scale events, take a trip to Cambridge where you’ll find the Folk Festival and the Literary Festival – among other key dates for your diary.

Getting there

Location, Location, Location

By Road: Leave the A12 and follow the signs to Higham and Stoke-by-Nayland. Keep on this road for 3½ miles – the Crown is in the centre of the village.

By Rail: The nearest train station is Colchester (8 miles) – a one-hour journey from London Liverpool Street.


Stoke by Nayland,, Stoke by Nayland, Suffolk, CO6 4SE

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