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HER Number:MDV14384
Name:Dartington Great Hall


Late 14th century Great Hall at Dartington with solar block with a covered way to the kitchen. Remodelled in 16th and 18th centuries.


Grid Reference:SX 798 626
Map Sheet:SX76SE
Admin AreaDevon
Civil ParishDartington
DistrictSouth Hams
Ecclesiastical ParishDARTINGTON

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX76SE/3/1
  • Old Listed Building Ref (I): 101033

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • GREAT HALL (Early Medieval to XVIII - 1066 AD to 1800 AD (Between))

Full description

Ordnance Survey, 1880-1899, First Edition Ordnance 25 inch map (Cartographic). SDV336179.

'Tower' & 'Old Hall' at 'Dartington Hall' shown on 1880s-1890s 25 inch Ordnance Survey map as a large rectangular building with an extension to the east. The 'Old Kitchen' is shown as a detached square building to the southeast of the 'Old Hall'.

Office of Works, 1924, Dartington Hall (Schedule Document). SDV177605.

The ruins consists of the Great Hall with its entrance porch and the kitchen and other rooms to the south of the Hall and of the remains of an arched wall on the west side of the second or western court. These were buildt by John Holland, Duke of Exeter, to whom the Estate was graned by his half brother, Richard II. The hall, 80 by 40 feet, is now roofless. In the north wall is a great fireplace at the back of the dais, possibly a later insertion. The hall is lighted by eight three-light windows of fine proportions, some of which are in a shaky condition. The tracery is simple without cusping. The screens were entered through a vaulted proch beneath a tower with three upper floors. On the keystone of the vaulting is the White Hart badge [the emblem of Richard II]. The pantry, butter etc are still perfect to the south of the hall but they are not in use. Beyond lies the kitchen with two large fireplaces and also roofless. These buildings form the west side of the main courtyard. The north is occupied by the modern house and farm, the east range is used for the farm buildings and contains remains of an earlier house than that of Holland. The south range has disappeared. To the west was another walled court of which the wall remains for about 50 feet on the west side in the garden of the present house.

Anonymous, 1933, Notes From Country Correspondents, 213 (Article in Serial). SDV149804.

Restoration in 1932, re-roofed and repaired. On the south-east interior wall can be seen the plate line of the original, possibly king-post, roof. On the north-west wall is that of its Tudor, hammer beam successor. This last served as a model for the new roof.

Harvey, J. H., 1941, The Medieval Office of Works, 47 (Article in Serial). SDV149805.

Benson, J., 1947 - 1949, The 'Carnarvon' or 'Shouldered' Arch, 241-3 (Article in Serial). SDV149808.

John Holland's windows at Dartington Hall are arched in the Carnarvon or Shouldered style. The structural fault in their lintels suggests that the design was imitated without an understanding of its structural principle.

Harvey, J. H., 1948, The King's Chief Carpenters, 25 (Article in Serial). SDV149806.

The original hall roof at Dartington was probably designed by Hugh Herland, chief carpenter to the Crown, in around 1394.

Elmhirst, L. K., 1952, Some Aspects of the History of Dartington Hall, 21-2 (Article in Serial). SDV149802.

The present roof truss at Dartington was restored in 1932, and is almost identical to that of the Holand roof, which was originally a hammer beam roof.

Pevsner, N., 1952, The Buildings of England: South Devon, 99-101 (Monograph). SDV336217.

Emery, A., 1958, Untitled Source, 184-202 (Article in Serial). SDV149801.

Great Hall, Dartington Hall. The south side of the north court consists of the Great Hall and lower solar block separated by a three-storied porch and screens-passage, and flanked by a low buttressed wall behind which rose the kitchen. The buttery and pantry lay below the lower solar block. The kitchen was approached from the screens-passage via a covered way. The Great Hall was built 1390-1399, and retains its late 14th century fireplace at the dias end. The windows, entrance tower and lower solar block were much altered in the 16th century. The upper solar block, which was joined to the lodgings on the west side was originally a ground floor room with a great chamber on the first floor, and possibly a larger room above. This was part of the private Holand apartments, and was completely remodelled in the 16th and 18th centuries.

Department of Environment, 1961, Totnes Rural District, 9 (List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest). SDV346550.

Platt, C., 1962, Excavations at Dartington Hall,1962, 208-224 (Article in Serial). SDV177576.

Alcock, N. W. + Barley, M. W., 1972, Medieval Roofs With Base-crucks and Short Principals, 135-7,152,155 (Article in Serial). SDV177657.

Other details: Fig 1.

Curnie, C. K. + Rushton, N. S., 2004, Dartington Hall and the development of the double-courtyard design in English Late Medieval high-status houses, 189-210 (Article in Serial). SDV340413.

Dartington Hall stands on high ground above the River Dart, north of Totnes. Constructed in the 14th century for John Holland, half-brother of Richard II. Later 16th and 17th century additions by the Champernowne family. Declined during the 19th century until its purchase by Dorothy and Leonard Elmhurst in 1925 who restored the buildings and gardens. Now a grade II listed property including its terraced gardens. Excavated in 1962 by Platt, showing it to be an early example of the double courtyard house. The lawn and landscaped terraces were excavated in 1993 and 1999 by Currie and Rushdon.

Archaeological Prospection Services of Southampton, 2005, Dartington Hall: Geophysical Survey Report (Report - Geophysical Survey). SDV320247.

A geophysical survey undertaken in 2004 on the lawn to the east of the Great Hall located a number of archaeological features associated with the medieval and later 'kitchen' buildings and the east range of the hall. They seem to include an extension to the hall range together with a possible terrace or boundary wall to the south. Other structures were identified to the east of the main complex and at a different orientation. The east range originally extended beyond its present limits and is visible on an engraving of 1734 by Buck. A drawing by Bonner of 1797 shows the kitchen and office buildings to the east of the Great Hall in a state of disrepair. By the early 20th century many of the buildings had become derelict.

English Heritage, 2011, Historic Houses Register (List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest). SDV346128.

Dartington Hall. Medieval mansion in educational use. Built 1388-1399 by John Holland, Earl of Huntingdon and later Duke of Exeter; altered in 1560-1, the century and 1740 and restored 1926-36 by William Weir for L K Elmhurst. Limestone and shale rubble with Beerstone dressings. Slate roofs with raised gable end verges. Large courtyard plan. Hall range on south side has porch to screens passage, 3-storey low east end with chambers above buttery and pantry and central axial passage to large detached kitchen. At high end of hall large fireplace and block of apartments partly rebuilt and (or) raised to 4 storeys in 1560-1. On west side of courtyard range of 10 pairs of lodgings and on east side remains of range which probably comprised 14 pairs of lodgings. On north side of courtyard the so-called 'gate-house' range (probably workshops and dormitory). At east end of north range large 14-bay barn (circa 15th century) with later engine house on north side. Hall range has battlements, 4 large pointed arch hall windows (20th century copies of 18th century) with
buttresses between, entrance to left of centre with large 3-storey porch with moulded pointed arch, polygonal stair turret in left angle and
bellcote (1737 bell). Rear (south) elevation of hall range has similar hall windows, high left end 4 storeys and projects and at low right end detached kitchen (now attached), square plan with high level lancets. West lodgings range, 2 storeys and attic, 18 window bays, mostly 1740 and 20th century fenestration but some original 2-light stone mullion transom windows with shouldered head lights and 2-storey porches with 4 centred arches and stairs to chambers; 2 porches on right (north) largely unaltered but others lost stairs and centre porch missing; at rear of west range row of lateral stacks. North range centre porch missing; at rear of west range row of lateral stacks. North range has rough stone round archway and 20th century windows and barn on east has steeply pitched roof and semi-polygonal engine house on outer north side. Surviving north end of east range has 2 gabled wings and lateral stack at back. Detached wall of former south courtyard has seven 4-centred arches and overlooks so-called 'tiltyard'.
Interior: Hall porch has ribbed vault with Richard II's arms (1390). 20th century hall roof by W. Weir. Large fireplace unusually situated at high end of hall. Rebuilt screen with gallery above. Four doorway in screens passage serving stairs to chambers, buttery and pantry and central axial passage to detached kitchen which has two enormous fireplaces and rebuilt roof by W. Weir. Lower end chambers have some early 17th century panelling, moulded plaster emblems and 20th century roof, but with impression of original roof in end gable. High end apartment block remodelled circa 1740 but 16th century roof survives; circa 1740 stairhall and staircase. South end of lodging range has corridor behind suite of 18th century panelled rooms on first floor, large chamfered cross-beams below. Nine bays of roof at north end of lodgings survive, but restored, and closed-truss at centre. Drawing of contemporary galleon scratched on plaster of partition. "Gate-house" range has six bays of arched brace raised cruck trusses with king-posts and collar purlins, square-set clasped purlin and wind braces.
Note: Although the north range is believed to be the earlier hall of the Fitzmartins there is evidence for it being contemporary, or nearly so, with Holands hall range, since the lower gable end wall of hall range has impression of a roof truss similar to that of north range. East and west lodging ranges were probably added circa 1393-1400, the east side of hall has remains of circa late 14th century wall which seems to be semi-defensive and probably had private quarters for John Holland's family, but circa late 13th century foundations were discovered during excavations (1962) which may be remains of the Fitzmartin's manor house. In 1740 Arthur Champernowne remodelled part of the interior of the apartments at the high end of the hall. Little alteration to the plan until early 19th century when part of east range was demolished. The work carried out by the Elmhurst's between 1926 and 1936 was largely restoration, including reconstruction of hall roof which had been dismantled in 1813, but the barn in the north range was converted into a theatre in 1933-8 by R Hening and Walter Gropius. Date Listed: 11th November 1952.

Ordnance Survey, 2011, MasterMap (Cartographic). SDV346129.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV149801Article in Serial: Emery, A.. 1958. Archaeological Journal. 115. Unknown. 184-202.
SDV149802Article in Serial: Elmhirst, L. K.. 1952. Some Aspects of the History of Dartington Hall. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 91. Hardback Volume. 21-2.
SDV149804Article in Serial: Anonymous. 1933. Notes From Country Correspondents. Journal of the British Archaeological Association. 39. Unknown. 213.
SDV149805Article in Serial: Harvey, J. H.. 1941. The Medieval Office of Works. Journal of the British Archaeological Association. 6. Unknown. 47.
SDV149806Article in Serial: Harvey, J. H.. 1948. The King's Chief Carpenters. Journal of the British Archaeological Association. 11. Unknown. 25.
SDV149808Article in Serial: Benson, J.. 1947 - 1949. The 'Carnarvon' or 'Shouldered' Arch. Devon and Cornwall Notes and Queries. 23. Unknown. 241-3.
SDV177576Article in Serial: Platt, C.. 1962. Excavations at Dartington Hall,1962. Archaeological Journal. 119. Unknown. 208-224.
SDV177605Schedule Document: Office of Works. 1924. Dartington Hall. The Schedule of Monuments. Foolscap.
SDV177657Article in Serial: Alcock, N. W. + Barley, M. W.. 1972. Medieval Roofs With Base-crucks and Short Principals. Antiquaries Journal. 52. Unknown. 135-7,152,155.
SDV320247Report - Geophysical Survey: Archaeological Prospection Services of Southampton. 2005. Dartington Hall: Geophysical Survey Report. University of Southampton Report. SREP 2/2005. A4 Stapled + Digital.
SDV336179Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 1880-1899. First Edition Ordnance 25 inch map. First Edition Ordnance Survey 25 inch Map. Map (Digital).
SDV336217Monograph: Pevsner, N.. 1952. The Buildings of England: South Devon. The Buildings of England: South Devon. Paperback Volume. 99-101.
SDV340413Article in Serial: Curnie, C. K. + Rushton, N. S.. 2004. Dartington Hall and the development of the double-courtyard design in English Late Medieval high-status houses. Archaeological Journal. 161. Paperback Volume. 189-210.
SDV346128List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest: English Heritage. 2011. Historic Houses Register. Historic Houses Register. Website.
SDV346129Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 2011. MasterMap. Ordnance Survey. Map (Digital). [Mapped feature: #81240 ]
SDV346550List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest: Department of Environment. 1961. Totnes Rural District. Historic Houses Register. Unknown. 9.

Associated Monuments

MDV8130Part of: Dartington Hall (Building)
MDV45811Related to: Bowling Green, Dartington Hall (Monument)
MDV79419Related to: East Range at Dartington Hall (Building)
MDV8132Related to: Gatehouse at Dartington Hall (Building)
MDV71151Related to: Holy Well at Dartington Hall (Monument)
MDV79422Related to: Kitchen at Dartington Hall (Building)
MDV58269Related to: Monuments in the Tower of St. Mary's Church, Dartington Hall (Monument)
MDV32486Related to: Park and Gardens at Dartington Hall, Totnes (Park/Garden)
MDV8131Related to: South Court of Dartington Hall (Park/Garden)
MDV8141Related to: St Mary's Church Tower, Dartington (Building)
MDV8133Related to: Sundial at Dartington Hall (Monument)
MDV14386Related to: Terraced Garden at Dartington Hall (Park/Garden)
MDV45812Related to: Well at Dartington Hall (Monument)
MDV14385Related to: West Range at Dartington Hall (Building)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV597 - Dartington Hall: Geophysical Survey Report

Date Last Edited:Feb 16 2011 3:37PM