Founder-Principal of Dartington College of Arts, Peter Cox, dies

Founder-Principal of Dartington College of Arts, Peter Cox, dies

We are sad to announce the death of Peter Cox (13 April 2015) at the age of 97.


Peter Cox
Peter Cox

An extraordinary man by any account, Peter was instrumental in developing the Arts at Dartington for 43 years. He was principal arts administrator and Founder-Principal of Dartington College of Arts.

He worked closely with our founders, Leonard and Dorothy Elmhirst, exploring with them what forms of arts activities would thrive at Dartington in post-war conditions. He was responsible for many of the best known arts activities that have happened at Dartington and was the driving force behind the creation and development of the College of Arts.

Peter is much loved and remembered by all who had the pleasure of working with him. Our thoughts are with his wife Bobbie and their children Jonson, Harriet and Chloe.

The family are planning a memorial funeral, to celebrate the life of Peter, in St Mary’s Parish Church in Frampton on Severn on Wednesday 29 April at 2pm to which his friends, colleagues and ex-students are invited. If you would like to attend, please send replies to the family at so they have a broad indication of numbers.

We will fly the Dartington flag at half mast on 29 April in tribute to and out of respect to all that Peter achieved for Dartington.


Posted on

April 14, 2015


  1. Lucinda Jill St.John (Falconer)

    Peter interviewed me for Dartington in 1961 . He added to the joy I was experiencing of being in such a beautiful place .I was full of wonder . It is so sad that Peter had to die and I’m upset that I didn’t find out early enough to go to his funeral .
    Lucinda (Jill ) Falconer a.k.a. Lucinda Cameron-Beaumont, nee St.John .

  2. Nic Gayle

    I shall remember, while the light lives yet –
    And in the night-time I shall not forget.

    – Swinburne –

  3. varel mcguire

    I heartily agree with everyone..and am so sorry…best wishes…and carry on…

  4. Susan Sharratt

    An admirable man who made things happen. The spirit of Peter’s Dartington will live on in all who knew him.

  5. carol ann uszkurat

    A true visionary who was instrumental in creating the college that opened undreamed of doors from me – in 1968 I was the first ever member of my working class family to go on to higher education – unidentified dyslexia meant I lacked the required qualifications for mainstream higher education but Dartington wad one of the first places to give outsiders like me a chance – I taught for 20 years – when deafness took me out of that it was the resources developed on my drama course that enabled me to switch to a very successful career in the disability field – now retired I revel in the time to be creative that includes being as a published poet and fine/conceptual artist – my days are and always will be richer due to the Dartington days that were very much made possible by the commitment and passion.of Peter Cox xx

  6. Martin Thompson

    I was lucky enough to be a student at the Arts College at the time of Peter (and Bobbie)in 1965-7. Peter was a huge influence and a most enlightened and inspiring Principal. He set the tone for a unique environment that enabled me and countless others to develop their creativity in a way that transcended conventional barriers and limitations to thought. Those two inspirational years I spent at Dartington were shaped by the ideas and ethos of Peter and I am eternally grateful to him. A wonderful life.

  7. Vanessa Martin nee Robertson

    Dartington is a wonderful place and has been the most important influence of my life. I still remember tutorials with Peter and art history with Bobbie in vivid detail. My strongest most and enduring friendships have been and still are with tutors and students who were at Dartington during my time.Thank you Peter and Bobbie.

  8. Douglas Gill

    Dartington headed by Peter was a huge inspiration for me. The beginning of so many things between the arts health and education that have influenced contemporary culture.
    The spirit will never leave me, many thanks.

  9. Gaynor Bennett nee Parry

    Dartington means /was so much for me. Thank you. Thoughts and condolences for an inspiring man.

  10. Sue Windham-Wright

    Very sorry to hear of Peter´s passing. My time at Dartington was very special and will remain with me always.

  11. Lesley Halley nee Davis

    Dartington was my heaven and without which I would never have become a teacher for thirty years. My thoughts go to Peters family . He was incredible.

  12. Judith Whitehouse

    Peter kept one of my paintings when I left, that meant such a lot.
    I remember him as a quiet man. Dartington has been a totally important influence. I was only 16 when I went and was quite traumatised to begin with. So different to anything experienced before, I remember the terror of having to call him Peter instead of ‘Mr. Cox’! My condolences to the family. I hope one day there will be such a vision again.

  13. sue misselbrook

    Rest in Peace Peter. You were a brilliant and inspiring man with humour and kindness. I remember my student days with pleasure and joy. Thank You.

  14. Dartington

    Once again, enormous thanks for all your comments here.

  15. Julian Luxton

    Such a kind and encouraging man and a great inspiration on my subsequent life in education.

  16. Dr Barry Cripps

    A wonderful man fondest memories from Barry especially your 2CV carrying the goat! Plus all your friends at Dartington Hall School.


    I was at Dartington Hall studying art from 1960-61. Peter made it possible for me to study there on a grant by supplementing the fees with work in the kitchens.A painful experience but one which has stood me in good stead all my life in a wide variety of situations. Peter was friendly,warm & approachable & I had the best year of my entire 71 years at the Hall at that time. Happier even than the preceding years at Foxhole …. I will miss Peter enormously.

  18. Richard Elmhirst

    A wonderful man and so much part of what made Dartington very special to so many.
    The Elmhirst family in Yorkshire always enjoyed his visits to Houndhill with Bobbie and our thoughts go out to the family who can be very proud of Peter’s contribution to society and the arts.

  19. Jacqueline smith

    My memories of studying art at Dartington are filled full of magic, and will always stay with me as a special time of my life, the philosophy of the course has ensured that the arts have remained a central aspect of my life”, coming from a very working class background the conventional art approach was Aiien and elitis Dartington sowed the seeds to enable art to be about people and life THANKYOU SO MUCH for that gift

  20. Nicholas Bull

    I knew Peter when he was a very effective Chairman of South West Arts. A wise man with a huge commitment to the arts.

  21. Abbie

    Sorry about peter cox

  22. Margaret Kirk

    I remember Peter with fondness. Particularly his memorable retirement which I was pleased to be able to help with. He was gentle and kind and will be thought of often. Working at Dartington was always a pleasure and the positive environment encouraged me to contine my education. Margaret Kirk College Nurse Now retired but still learning.

  23. Dartington

    Dear all – thank you for all your heartfelt comments so far. We know Peter’s family will appreciate them very much.

  24. Paul Hornsby (Music Student 74-77)

    This is very sad. The world could do with a few more liberal minded men and women like him. Innovative / creative , compassionate and with great integrity. I , along with many others benefited from his vision for the arts and artists and am very grateful for it. Condolences to all family and friends.

  25. adam strickson

    Peter was so kind and provided much caring support to myself and my wife Kim (who met on the theatre degree at Dartington) when we first set up a community theatre project in Pendeen, Cornwall. He was central to the creative, peaceful inspirational place that was Dartington for us, and that we still hold in our hearts and in our work. Dartington was people as much as the place and what a wonderful person Peter was at the heart of it!

  26. Professor Amanda Bayley

    Forever grateful for what Peter achieved at Dartington.RIP.

  27. Professor Emilyn Claid

    Peter’s philosophy inspired so many of us who worked at Dartington College of Arts. His openness, generosity and curiosity brought many wonderful artists, students and teachers into contact with each other. The UK dance and theatre worlds continue to be influenced by the cross disciplinary practice led arts and education initiated at Dartington, much of which is due to Peter’s innovative vision. We will not forget.

  28. John Wesley-Barker

    Very sorry to hear of the passing of Peter Cox. So much a part of the whole Dartington ethos and outlook in it’s heyday. I feel so privileged and proud to have been a tiny part of that and I know how much it was a result of Peter’s hard work and vision. We owe him a huge debt for his determination against all odds to see the vision become the reality it did. Such a long time ago now and his death to bring that home even more. Condolences to family and friends. Rest In Peace Peter. Just hope heaven has a Tilt Yard.

  29. Helen Bawden

    RIP a very special man. He was Principal when I was a music student at Dartington, a very visible Principal an inspirational Principal.

  30. Jane Hodson

    Peter was the central pivot around which Dartington flowed in all its facets, making it a magical place to live and learn. His quiet ways made it so, and the 2 years on the music foundation course gave me a wonderful start to a very happy life in music. Thank you Peter.

  31. lizi jamal

    thank you Peter for your prescense and vision.Blessings and peace.


    Thank you for everything.

  33. Christian Turton

    I didn’t know Peter but a truly amazing man by all accounts, a sad loss.

  34. Caroline Lamb nee Satchell

    A true VIsionary and an inspirational man. He was Principal during my time at Dartington – a wonderful and deeply important creative time that I will never forget.

  35. Lucy Bulpin

    What a wonderful age! I remember being interviewed by him before going to Dartington, as he was the principal then. It was a privilege to be a student there in the days of Leonard and Dorothy Elmhirst, with Peter Cox heading the college, and a time never to be forgotten.

  36. Sherrie Spencer

    Extremely sad but such a wonderful pioneering man.
    May you rest in peace and thank you for your amazing part in the Dartington history.

  37. Gail Veasey

    RIP. He was Principal during my time at Dartington. A brilliant two years in my life! Thank you Peter! and my condolences to all the family.


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