Dartington Hall - Dartington, Totnes South Devon

Dartington Hall

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Dartington near Totnes
Post Code

Originally set in a 1,200 acre estate near Dartington, this medieval hall was not built until around 1388, however, there are records from the Royal Charter of 833 AD that mentions the Manor of Dartington during the Roman occupation.

In 1384, Richard II granted the lands to his half brother John Holand, soon afterwards known as the Earl of Huntington and between 1388 and 1400 he built new buildings forming the large quadrange covering almost an acre and the large country house we know today was born.

After John Holand was beheaded, it stayed in the Holand family passing to his son John Holand II (who served in the Battle of Agincourt). Then to his son, Henry Holand (who drowned on returning from an invasion of France) and finally on to his widows' second husband, Sir Thomas Leger, around 1476 who was also executed, this time by Richard III. This time the Crown retained it and for short periods it was owned or tenanted by various people including two of Henry VIII's wives, Catharine Howard and Catherine Parr.

Finally in 1559 a Devon family called the Champernownes, who had good connections during these difficult Elizabethan times, purchased the estate and Dartington was to remain theirs for the next 366 years. Sadly their wealth and influence dwindled during the agricultural depression in the 19th century and at the start of the 20th century, they were forced to sell much of their estate.

In 1925, now mostly derelict, it was purchased by Leonard and Dorothy Elmhirst who commissioned William Weir to renovate it, restoring the incredible hammerbeam roof on the Great Hall amongst others. In 1935 they set up a registered charity now knows as The Dartington Hall Trust, to run the estate and bring reconstruction to the depressed economy of the South Hams.

It now comprises schools, colleges and various charitable and commercial organisations, including the shops at Dartington knowns as the Cider Press Centre. The medieval courtyard and great hall now host conference centres, wedding venues and B&B for visitors.


  • Parking - Plenty
  • Accessibility - No problem
  • Toilets - Yes
  • Refreshments - Yes
  • Dogs - Only guide dogs

Best for


Look out for

The Cidar Press Centre.

It's a fact !

John Holand I was the Constable of the Tower (of London) in 1447 and bought the torture known as "The Rack" to medieval England, although we know it had been used across Europe since as early as 304 Ad on a gentleman known as St Vincent.

Interrogation in those medieval days were without mercy and often reason. The victim was tied down while a turning wheel tightened the rope, stretching the victims body until the joints dislocated, sometimes the limbs could be torn right off!  Over the years many more painful additions were added but suffice to say they were always a terrible experience, but it seems also a lucrative one for it's creator!

The last known use of the rack to interrogate was used on a Catholic priest in Ireland in 1627 on the instructions of Charles I. It is wildly thought that Guy Fawkes met his death this way too!


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