DARTMOUTH is a town and civil parish in the English county of
It is a tourist destination set on the western bank of the estuary of
River Dart , which is a long narrow tidal ria that runs inland as
Totnes . It lies within the South
Devon Area of Outstanding
Natural Beauty and
South Hams District , and had a population of 5,512
in 2001, reducing to 5,064 at the 2011 census There are two
electoral wards in the Dartmouth area (
Townstal For ought I wost, he
was of Dertemouthe.
Notwithstanding Dartmouth's connections with the crown and
respectable society, it was a major base for privateering in medieval
times. John Hawley or Hauley, a licensed privateer and sometime mayor
of Dartmouth is reputed to be a model for Chaucer's "schipman".
The earliest street in Dartmouth to be recorded by name (in the 13th
century) is Smith Street. Several of the houses on the street are
originally late 16th century or early 17th century and probably
rebuilt on the site of earlier medieval dwellings. The street name
undoubtedly derives from the smiths and shipwrights who built and
repaired ships here when the tidal waters reached as far as this
point. Smith Street was also the site of the town pillory in medieval
Medieval church door of St Saviour's
St Saviour's Church was constructed in 1335 and consecrated in 1372.
It contains a pre-Reformation oak rood screen built in 1480 and
several monuments including the tomb of John Hawley (d. 1408) and his
two wives, covered with a large brass plate effigy of all three. A
large medieval ironwork door is decorated with two leopards of the
Plantagenets and is possibly the original portal. Although it is dated
"1631", this is thought to be the date of a subsequent refurbishment
coincidental with major renovations of the church in the 17th century.
The gallery of the church is decorated with the heraldic crests of
prominent local families and is reputed to be constructed of timbers
from ships captured during the defeat of the
Spanish Armada ,
although this has not been categorically substantiated.
In 1592 the
Madre de Deus , a Portuguese treasure ship captured by
the English in the
Azores , docked at
Dartmouth Harbour . It attracted
all manner of traders, dealers, cutpurses and thieves and by the time
Walter Raleigh arrived to reclaim the Crown's share of the loot, a
cargo estimated at half a million pounds had been reduced to
£140,000. Still, ten freighters were needed to carry the treasure to
Henry Hudson put into Dartmouth on his return from North America, and
was arrested for sailing under a foreign flag . The Pilgrim Fathers
put into Dartmouth's Bayard's Cove, en route from
America. They rested a while before setting off on their journey in
Mayflower and the Speedwell on 20 August 1620. About 300 miles
west of Land\'s End , upon realising that the Speedwell was
unseaworthy, it returned to
Plymouth . The
Mayflower departed alone to
complete the crossing to
Cape Cod . Dartmouth's sister city is
Dartmouth, Massachusetts . The Butterwalk
The town contains many medieval and Elizabethan streetscapes and is a
patchwork of narrow lanes and stone stairways. A significant number of
the historic buildings are listed. One of the most obvious is the
Butterwalk, built 1635 to 1640. Its intricately carved wooden fascia
is supported on granite columns. Charles II held court in the
Butterwalk whilst sheltering from storms in 1671 in a room which now
forms part of
Dartmouth Museum . Much of the interior survives from
The Royal Castle Hotel was built in 1639 on the then new quay. The
building was re-fronted in the 19th century, and as the new frontage
is itself listed, it is not possible to see the original which lies
beneath. A claimant for the oldest building is a former merchant's
house in Higher Street, now a
Good Beer Guide
Good Beer Guide listed public house
called the Cherub, built circa 1380. Agincourt House (next to the
Lower Ferry) is also 14th century.
Dartmouth sent numerous ships to join the English fleet that attacked
Spanish Armada , including the Roebuck, Crescent and Hart. The
Nuestra Señora del Rosario, the Spanish Armada's "payship" commanded
by Admiral Pedro de Valdés, was captured along with all its crew by
Sir Francis Drake . It was reportedly anchored in the
River Dart for
more than a year and the crew were used as labourers on the nearby
Greenway Estate which was the home of
Sir Humphrey Gilbert and his
Walter Raleigh . Greenway was later the home of Dame
Agatha Christie .
The remains of a fort at Gallants Bower just outside the town are
some of the best preserved remains of a Civil War defensive structure.
The fort was built by
Royalist occupation forces in c. 1643 to the
south east of the town, with a similar fort at Mount Ridley on the
opposite slopes of what is now
Kingswear . The Parliamentarian General
Fairfax attacked from the north in 1646, taking the town and forcing
the Royalists to surrender, after which Gallants Bower was demolished.
The made-up embankment which today extends the whole length of the
town's riverbank is the result of 19th century land reclamation,
started in earnest when the town played host to a large number of
prisoners of war from the
Napoleonic Wars which formed a captive
workforce. Before this, what is now the town centre was almost
entirely tidal mud flats.
Royal National Lifeboat Institution opened the Dart Lifeboat
Station at the Sand Quay in 1878, but it was closed in 1896. In all
this time only one effective rescue was made by the lifeboat .
Smith Street circa 1930
In the latter part of the Second World War the town was a base for
American forces and one of the departure points for
Utah Beach in the
D Day landings . Slipways and harbour improvements were also
constructed. Much of the surrounding countryside and notably Slapton
Sands was closed to the public while it was used by US troops for
practise landings and manoeuvres.
Dart Lifeboat Station was reopened in 2007, the first time that a
lifeboat had been stationed in the town since 1896. It has initially
been kept in a temporary building in Coronation Park.
In 2010, a fire seriously damaged numerous historical properties in
Fairfax Place and Higher Street. Several were Tudor and Grade I or
Grade II listed buildings .
The town was an ancient borough , incorporated by Edward III , known
formally as CLIFTON-DARTMOUTH-HARDNESS, and consisting of the three
parishes of St Petrox, St Saviour and
Townstal , and incorporating the
hamlets of Ford, Old Mill and Norton. It was reformed under the
Municipal Corporations Act 1835 . The town returned two members of
parliament from the 13th century until 1835, after which one MP was
elected until the town was disenfranchised in 1868. It remained a
municipal borough until 1974, when it was merged into the South Hams
district, and became a successor parish of Dartmouth with a town
Dartmouth Town Council is the lowest of three tiers of local
government. It consists of 16 councillors representing the two wards
of Clifton and Townstal. At the second tier, Dartmouth forms part of
the Dartmouth and
Kingswear ward of
South Hams District Council, which
returns three councillors. At the upper tier of local government
Kingswear Electoral Division elects one member to Devon
CULTURE AND TOURISM
Map of Dartmouth
Port of Dartmouth Royal Regatta takes place annually over three
days at the end of August. The event sees the traditional regatta boat
races along with markets, fun fairs, community games, air displays
Red Arrows and fireworks. A
Royal Navy guard ship is
present at the event.
Bayard's Cove has been used in several television productions,
The Onedin Line a popular
BBC television drama series that
ran from 1971 to 1980. Many of the scenes from the BBC's popular
series 'Down to Earth', starring
Ricky Tomlinson , were filmed at
various locations around the town.
Notable tourist attractions include the Dartmouth Royal Naval College
Dartmouth Castle and the
Dartmouth Steam Railway which terminates at
Kingswear on the opposite bank of the river.
Boat cruises to nearby places along the coast (such as
Salcombe ) and up the river (to
Dittisham and the Greenway
Estate ) are provided by several companies. The paddlesteamer PS
Kingswear Castle returned to the town in 2013.
The nearest Met Office weather station is Slapton , about 5 miles
south-south west of Dartmouth and a similar distance from the coast.
As with the rest of the
British Isles and
South West England
South West England , the
area experiences a maritime climate with warm summers and mild winters
- this is particularly pronounced due to its position near the coast -
extremes range from a record low of just −8.0 °C (17.6 °F) in
January 1987 up to a record high of 30.5 °C (86.9 °F) during June
CLIMATE DATA FOR SLAPTON, 1981-2010, EXTREMES 1960-
RECORD HIGH °C (°F)
AVERAGE HIGH °C (°F)
AVERAGE LOW °C (°F)
RECORD LOW °C (°F)
AVERAGE PRECIPITATION MM (INCHES)
MEAN MONTHLY SUNSHINE HOURS
Source: Met Office
Dartmouth is linked to
Kingswear , on the other side of the River
Dart, by three ferries. The Higher Ferry and the Lower Ferry are both
vehicular ferries. The Passenger Ferry , as its name suggests, carries
only passengers, principally to connect with the
Dartmouth Steam Railway at
Kingswear railway station . The nearest
bridge across the Dart is in
Totnes , some 11 miles (18 km) away by
road. Dartmouth station building, now a restaurant.
A379 road runs through Dartmouth, linking the town to Slapton and
Kingsbridge to the southwest and to
Torbay to the east across the
Higher Ferry. The A3122 connects Dartmouth to a junction with the A381
, and hence to both
Totnes and a more direct route to Kingsbridge.
First South West provides local town bus services and links to,
Plymouth , Kingsbridge. As well as
Stagecoach Gold provides a luxury
bus service to
Paignton . In addition
Devon provides links to the
Torbay resorts of
Kingswear via the ferry.
No railway has ever run to Dartmouth, but the town does have a
railway station , although it is now a restaurant. The railway line
Kingswear was opened in 1864, the original plans for the Dartmouth
Torbay Railway line took the line across a bridge and into the
town. Opposition from local seamen and merchants saw the route
Kingswear on the opposite side of the river, but this
occurred after the station had been built at Dartmouth. The railway
terminated at a station called "
Kingswear for Dartmouth" (now on the
Paignton and Dartmouth Steam Railway) and a ferry took passengers
across the river to the station at
Dartmouth railway station , which
had a dedicated pontoon.
British Railways closed the line to mainline
passenger trains in 1973, but it re-opened as a heritage line and has
run as one ever since.
Kingswear seen from Dartmouth
ROYAL NAVAL COLLEGE
The town is home to the
Royal Navy 's officer training college
Britannia Royal Naval College ), where all officers of the Royal Navy
and many foreign naval officers are trained.
Dartmouth has one secondary school — formerly (Dartmouth Community
College ) now Dartmouth Academy — an all-through school for those
aged 3–18, and two primary schools : (Dartmouth
Primary school (now
part of Dartmouth Academy) and St John the Baptist R.C. Primary
Dartmouth Community College and Dartmouth Primary School are
part of the Dartmouth Learning Campus; as from September 2007,
Dartmouth Community College is part of a federation with Dartmouth
Primary School and Nursery, meaning that the two schools share one
governing body for pupils aged 1 to 19. Dartmouth also has a
pre-school in the centre of town, established for over 40 years and
based in the old Victorian school rooms at South Ford Road. It
provides care for 2- to 5-year-olds and is run as a charitable
SPORT AND LEISURE
Dartmouth has a
Non-League football club
Dartmouth A.F.C. who play at
Dartmouth also hosts the annual "World Indoor Rally Championship",
based on slot car racing in the late summer.
At the end of August and early September there is the annual Port of
Dartmouth Royal Regatta .
Since 1905 Dartmouth has had a greenhouse as part of the Royal Avenue
Gardens. In May 2013 this building, used for the previous 10 years
by Dartmouth in Bloom, a not-for-profit organisation affiliated with
Britain in Bloom , was closed as structurally unsound. There are
proposals to restore the greenhouse to its prior Edwardian style.
Thomas Newcomen , the inventor of the atmospheric engine – the
first successful steam-powered pumping engine – was born in
Dartmouth in 1663. The location of his house in Lower Street is marked
with a plaque, although the building itself was demolished (and
elements incorporated into local architect Thomas Lidstone's house on
Ridge Hill) in the 19th century to make way for a new road which was
named after Newcomen. An 18th-century working
Newcomen steam engine
Newcomen steam engine is
on display in the town.
The town was home to the civil engineer and calculating prodigy
George Parker Bidder
George Parker Bidder (1806–1878), who is notable for his work on
railways over much of the world, as well as the docks of the East End
Port of London . Bidder served on the town council, and his
expertise was instrumental in draining the area which is now the
centre of the town. He also undertook pioneering work with Samuel Lake
on steam trawling whilst living in the town. Bidder died at his home
at Paradise Point near
Warfleet Creek and is buried at nearby Stoke
Flora Thompson lived in Above Town between 1928 and 1940, writing
Lark Rise and
Over to Candleford during this time. The books were
later combined into a single volume with
Candleford Green and
Lark Rise to Candleford . She is buried at Longcross
The stage and film actress
Rachel Kempson (1910–2003) was born in
Dartmouth. She was the wife of Sir
Michael Redgrave and mother of
Vanessa , Lynn and Corin , and published her autobiography, Life Among
the Redgraves, in 1988.
Gordon Onslow Ford (1912–2003), a leading British surrealist
painter, attended the Royal Naval College.
Sir John Harvey Jones (1924-2008), Businessman and television
presenter, attended the Royal Naval College.
Christopher Robin Milne , son of
A.A. Milne , after whom the
Christopher Robin in the
Winnie-the-Pooh books was named,
used to own the Harbour Bookshop. The bookshop was reported as facing
closure in September 2011 and the report was fulfilled.
Many local businesses were commemorated in a special edition of the
card game Happy Families produced locally in 1987, created to raise
funds locally. A copy is held in Dartmouth Museum.
Theodore Veale , recipient of the
Victoria Cross during the First
World War .
* ^ Office for National Statistics : Census 2001 : Parish
South Hams Retrieved 27 January 2010
* ^ "Parish population 2011". Retrieved 19 February 2015.
* ^ "Dartmouth and
Kingswear ward 2011". Retrieved 19 February
* ^ "Dartmouth Townstall ward 2011". Retrieved 19 February 2015.
* ^ "What\'s in A Name - Warfleet Creek". By The Dart. Retrieved 10
* ^ "John Hawley of Dartmouth". Devonperspectives.co.uk. 11
February 2012. Retrieved 25 October 2012.
* ^ "Roll Of Mayoralty". Dartmouth-history.org.uk. Archived from
the original on 29 February 2012. Retrieved 25 October 2012.
* ^ "St Saviour, Dartmouth,
Devon - Church". Roughwood.net. 27
February 2009. Retrieved 25 October 2012.
* ^ Andrews, Robert (2013). The Rough Guide to
Devon & Cornwall.
Rough Guides UK. ISBN 9781409364863 .
* ^ McDermott, James (2001). Martin Frobisher: Elizabethan
Privateer. Yale University Press. pp. 397–398. ISBN 9780300083804 .
* ^ Good Stuff IT Services. "Listed Buildings in Dartmouth, Devon,
England". British Listed Buildings. Retrieved 25 October 2012.
* ^ "The King\'s Room at Dartmouth Museum". Dartmouth Museum.
Retrieved 29 July 2011. It was in this magnificent room that King
Charles II was entertained in July 1671, when storms forced him to
seek shelter in Dartmouth.
* ^ Russell, Percy (September 1946). Ancient Dartmouth (PDF).
Retrieved 2 February 2013.
* ^ "Dartmouth,
Devon - Destinations UK". Historic-uk.com. 4 June
1944. Retrieved 25 October 2012.
* ^ "Gallants Bower". National Trust. Retrieved 10 July 2016.
* ^ A B Leach, Nicholas (2009). Devon's Lifeboat Heritage.
Chacewater: Twelveheads Press. pp. 19–20. ISBN 978-0-906294-72-7 .
* ^ "Dartmouth\'s Tudor buildings destroyed by chip shop fire". BBC
News. 29 May 2010. Retrieved 30 May 2010.
* ^ Pigot ">(PDF).
South Hams District Council. Archived from the
original (PDF) on 28 September 2011. Retrieved 15 April 2011.
* ^ Division 36: Dartmouth and Kingswear,
Devon County Council.
Retrieved 21 March 2008
* ^ "Things to Do - Indoor - Outdoor - Dartmouth Museum". Dartmouth
Museum . Retrieved 19 August 2011. Bayards Cove was used in the BBC
The Onedin Line to represent the wharves and buildings of
* ^ http://www.dartmouth.tv/ig-dartmouth/dmi-0005.htm
* ^ "Paddlesteamer
Kingswear Castle returns home to the Dart after
Western Morning News . 8 December 2012. Retrieved 18
* ^ "1987 temperature". KNMI .
* ^ "1976 temperature". KNMI .
* ^ "Dart Harbour : Ferries". The Dart Harbour and Navigation
Authority. Retrieved 18 September 2008.
* ^ "Heritage, Landscape & Wildlife: Dartmouth Town Trail". South
Devon AONB. Retrieved 25 October 2012.
* ^ http://www.slotforum.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=56804
* ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rSaiaCDqIvs
* ^ "History of Dartmouth Community Greenhouse". Dartmouth in
Bloom. Retrieved 17 May 2013. The Dartmouth Greenhouse was built in
1905. This Greenhouse is part of the history of Royal Avenue Gardens
and part of the heritage of the town of Dartmouth.
* ^ "Bloom team bid to restore greenhouse". North London Today.
Tindle Newspapers. 15 March 2013. Retrieved 17 May 2013. The
greenhouse, built in 1905, was an original feature of the New Ground,
which became Royal Avenue Gardens, and remains the oldest surviving
feature of the gardens, six years older than the bandstand.
* ^ "Dartmouth in Bloom, horticultural achievement, environmental
responsibility, community participation Dartmouth in Bloom". Dartmouth
in Bloom. Retrieved 6 October 2013.
* ^ "Bloom contest fear over gardening cut". Dartmouth Chronicle.
Tindle Newspapers. 3 May 2013. Retrieved 17 May 2013. ... the local
bloom team has had to cope with the closure of its community
Greenhouse which has been deemed too structurally dangerous to use.
* ^ "Bloom team bid to restore greenhouse". Dartmouth Chronicle.
Tindle Newspapers. 15 March 2013. Retrieved 17 May 2013. Dartmouth in
Bloom has big plans to rescue one of the town’s greatest assets, the
community greenhouse, and restore it to its former Edwardian glory.
The move comes at a time when the future of the community greenhouse
is at risk, with controversial proposals from
South Hams Council,
which owns the building, to flatten it to extend the Mayor Avenue car
* ^ "BBC News - Christopher Robin\'s Dartmouth bookshop to close".
bbc.co.uk. 19 August 2011. Retrieved 25 October 2012.
* ^ "visually lush: Dartmouth Happy Families".
Lydiadimitrova.blogspot.co.uk. 7 May 2009. Retrieved 25 October 2012.
* ^ "Holdsworth Room - War - Peace - Oldstone Dolls House -
Dartmouth Museum . Retrieved 23 July 2012. In one
of the many drawers you will find a very special pack of cards;
Dartmouth's own local Happy Families game, devised by local artist
Simon Drew and sold in 1987 to raise money for the swimming pool fund.
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