Dartington Hall throws open doors to share its plans

Dartington Hall throws open doors to share its plans

We’re welcoming local people to see work in progress on plans for its future inspired by the public – at three days of free displays, discussions and participatory sessions on the Dartington Hall estate.

Proposals for Dartington’s gardens, development, land use, food, arts, social justice, learning and community of enterprises are to be on show at the Trust’s Open House event between 8 and 10 March. The plans were born of a groundswell of imagination and progressive thinking expressed at four Open Space meetings in 2015-16 following the arrival of new DHT CEO Rhodri Samuel.

open house exhibition

The Open Space sessions resulted in a range of immediate changes at the Trust including the development of a new cafe, campsite and children’s play facilities and new programmes of live arts and social justice events. They also informed the Trust’s longer term plans for transformation over the next 5-7 years, which will now be showcased at the forthcoming Open House. The plans are backed up by a strong business case and funding plan designed to secure a meaningful and sustainable future for the 90 year old charity.

Dartington Hall Trust CEO Rhodri Samuel says:

“Open House is a kind of ‘open studio’ for you to have a good look at work that is at different stages of evolution. It’s also your chance to comment on where we’re at through a programme of discussions, workshops and talks. We now have sufficient confidence to share where we are as we believe it is a credible and fundable five to seven year plan that expresses our founding purpose and values. At the core of this is our desire to realise the ideas of our founders Dorothy and Leonard Elmhirst for the 21st century.

“We want to inspire everyoneto embody  what the Elmhirsts called a ‘many-sided life’: to be given a chance to connect with our wholeselves, each other and with nature so we can better realise our potential. We also want Dartington Hall to be a place which asks important questions and experiments with interdisciplinary solutions to the pressing problems of our time. I hope once you’ve visited Open House and let us know what you think, you’ll also see how we’re going all out to give it our best shot.”

A big draw will be one of the UK’s most important landscape designers, Dan Pearson, who will be giving a tour of the Grade II* listed gardens and presenting his creative vision to reimagine and sensitively reinvigorate  the gardens, including their relationship with the surrounding landscape and community. In reshaping them for the 21st century, Dan Pearson Studio, his landscape practice, has taken account of the Trust’s plans to develop the estate into a thriving place to visit and realise its vision of a ‘many sided life’ for all to access and enjoy.

In a visual display and presentation by estate development director Martyn Evans the Trust will share its thinking on re-purposing buildings such as The Shops, Roundhouse, White Hart and Hotel, and on creating homes that are accessible to as many people as possible such as at Lane End Plantation. The Trust also invites input on how it can better manage transport and movement on the estate and in Dartington village.

Visitors are invited to take a tractor tour of recent innovations in land use from the restoration of Dartington’s Deer Park to experiments in agroforestry, and a debate on land use that asks what next, hosted by estate manager John Channon and food and farming manager Harriet Bell. Join new Trust director of food and drink Oliver Rowe, of BBC2’s Urban Chef series on local sourcing, alongside our local food and farming community for a talk and workshop on how food is to play a bigger role at Dartington. Find out what Dartington tastes like with an evening meal brought to you by Green Table café chef Tara Vaughan-Hughes and director of food and drink Oliver Rowe (£30). Explore the interconnectedness of enterprises on the estate at an informal networking event with planning and engagement manager Jo Atkey.

Arts lead Amy Bere and her team invite the local community to feed into how the Trust can best programme art that helps us navigate the times we live in? Associate director of social justice Ceri Goddard invites those interested in the future of social justice at Dartington to take part in a workshop on No Them, Only Us on co-developed work to challenge rising inequality in our community and society.

If you’re fired up, angry or excited by the current state of education, interim director of learning innovation (former Dartington College of Arts faculty) Alan Boldon hosts an interactive panel discussion on where the Trust has got to with research and development into its vision to challenge the current educational model and experiment with new forms of multi-disciplinary learning on the estate. Get hands on in printing, twinning, clay and carving with craft learning manager Lou Rainbow and local makers. Finally get your feet on for a participatory outdoor dance winding through grounds and gardens to help shoot the finale scene of a video for the Trust’s website about the remaking of Dartington.



Posted on

March 8, 2018


  1. Lynne Bentley

    I attended both the excellent Dan Pearson sessions for the Open House – the garden tour and presentation – but was unable to stay for the Q&A session.

    I left however rather unclear as to the status of Dan’s proposals, as presented – have these been accepted by the Dartington Hall Board, in full or in part? And have any priority or rankings been made re each of the individual pieces of work?

    And have any implementation /funding/manpower strategies for the garden been drawn up?

    Similarly, is the Trust seeking any feedback/comments on these proposals for the garden or was this purely a sharing/update opportunity?

    A very exciting time ahead for the gardens.

    • Dartington

      Hi Lynne, Dan Pearson’s masterplan delivery strategy divides work into tasks for the garden team with existing budget, those requiring external contractors and those requiring fundraising as a major project. We’ll be making a start on those that can be delivered by our gardens team without additional resources. In the formal gardens area this has been work either side of our Magnolia Steps to review existing planting beds to ‘quieten’ palettes. This will be followed by work the play area which includes Valley Field which includes removal of field hedge and scrub clearance to open up Valley Field as well as the creation of new informal mown paths within Valley Field and adjoining Pasture.

      While it is our aim to deliver the creative long term vision outlined in Dan’s presentation, we’re always interested to hear what you think.


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