Dartington Hall & GardensTotnes
Totnes
Devon TQ9 6EL
 
 
 
 
Set in the middle of rural South Devon is Dartington Hall and Gardens, a 1,200 acre estate owned by the Dartington Hall Trust.  The Trust is a charity working for the advancement of the arts, sustainability and social justice.
 
In the 1920s, philanthropists Leonard and Dorothy Elmhirst bought the run down medieval Dartington estate and set about restoring the buildings, grounds and their goal of introducing progressive education and rural reconstruction.
 
Original Manor built 1388 to 1400
The main medieval buildings cluster around the courtyard and east/west wings of the original manor, built between 1388 and 1400.  This range is used for meeting rooms and accommodation.
 
The Great Hall was also part of the original manor house and built in 1388.  The magnificent hammerbeam roof was renewed in the 1920s when the building was restored but everything else is original.  The badge of King Richard II and the Plantagenets – a white hart on a red rose – can be seen on the central boss in the roof of the porch.
 
Medieval Courtyard open to Public
In the medieval courtyard is the White Hart Bar and Dining Room, open to the public for morning coffee, drinks and meals.  It is situated in the old manor house kitchen.
 
To the west of the Great Hall is the 13th century Church Tower and remains of Dartington Churchyard complete with ancient gravestones (it is rumoured that some of the Knights Templar are buried here).  Only the outside of the tower is available to the public.
 
Many of the other buildings on the estate were built in the 1930s when Dartington Hall was a very famous avant-garde private boarding school. Parts of this lovely estate, the Gardens and some buildings are open to the public when not being used for other purposes.  In such cases, visitors are asked to restrict their viewing to the outside of the historic buildings.
 
The estate comprises various schools, colleges and organisations, including Shumacher College, Dartington College of Arts, Dartington Arts, the Summer School of Music and the Cider Press Centre. The Hall now functions as a conference centre and provides bed and breakfast accommodation for people attending courses and for casual visitors.
 
The Gardens
The Gardens are not the usual, heavily planted formal spaces.  Instead, sloping grass terraces flow down the hill towards the River Dart.   The woodlands and wildflower meadows complement the natural landscape.  The only contrived space is a Japanese Zen garden.
 
Accommodation - Search & Book through Hotels.com here:     External Link
 
Sunken grassy Tiltyard
The sunken grassy Tiltyard has been created out of an Elizabethan water garden.  The south west side of the Tiltyard is flanked by a series of grassy banks, each with a flat terrace stepping up to a row of ancient Chestnut trees; here Henry Moore's reclining sculpture figure quietly spends her days.
 
A lawn, three more terraces, and a row of twelve Irish yew trees, fondly known as The Twelve Apostles, separate this area from the 14th century Hall, standing off to the north east side of the Tiltyard.  There are a number of sculptures set about the landscape.
 
The gardens are open all year from dawn to dusk.  A two pound donation per visitor is requested to help with the maintenance.  The donation box is at the entrance archway.
 
Plan Your Visit
Contact & Further Information
Telephone   +44 (0)1803 847 000
Website   Dartington Hall    External Link
 
Getting There
- By Car
Dartington Hall is located 1.5 miles (2.4 kms) from Totnes, 25 miles (40.2 kms) from Plymouth and 26 miles (42 kms) from Exeter.
 
From London & The North
The M5 from Bristol area becomes the A38 at Exeter(see detailed road information on the Exeter page in this website).
 
On the A38, follow the signs for Plymouth and take exit signed Buckfastleigh, Totnes and Dartmouth. Head south-east towards Totnes on the A384. After approximately 5 miles (8 kms) you pass the Dartington Village sign. Turn left immediately past the church, onto the Dartington Hall Estate. Follow the drive to the crest of the hill where 200 yds (183 metres) ahead you will find the main car parks on your left, adjacent to the main courtyard entrance on your right.
 
From The West
Take the A38 from Plymouth and then A385 from Marley Head. Upon reaching roundabout at Dartington Village, turn left and then turn right before the church, onto the Dartington Hall Estate. Again, follow the drive to the crest of the hill where you will find the main car parks on your left, adjacent to the main courtyard entrance on your right.
 
Google Maps - Dartington Hall and Gardens