Local community hear Dartington Hall’s ambitious plans to reconnect to founders’ 1920s vision

Nearly 1000 tickets across fourteen Dartington Hall events were snapped up by local people during our recent three day Open House event.

Local people were invited to tell us what they think of progress made on realising the ideas originally sparked at the Trust’s Open Space meetings in 2015/16.

Dan Pearson Photo Amy Stanford

Dan Pearson. Photo: Amy Stanford

The biggest attraction, attended by over 200 people, was a presentation in the Great Hall by international garden designer Dan Pearson [pictured] on his long term vision for Dartington’s listed gardens.

WATCH: Dan Pearson’s Gardens Masterplan presentation ⇒

Dartington Hall Trust CEO Rhodri Samuel says:

‘Dan has created a beautiful, imaginative plan to guide all future work on our gardens over the next 20 years or more. He has successfully balanced his sensitivity to the historic character of the gardens with the spirit of creativity and innovation for which he is renowned. He has addressed and resolved many of the tensions and challenges associated with the management of the gardens, including protecting quiet and serene areas of the historic garden while adding exciting new spaces around the periphery of the garden for making, growing and play. This combination will protect the best of the old, while bringing fresh life and vitality to the garden involving people of all ages’.

Pearson’s proposal creates five garden zones, each expressing different elements of the estate’s 20th century founder’s idea of a ‘many-sided life’ – including exciting spaces for arrival, culture, food production, craft production, contemplation and play, while conserving and enhancing the historic character of the formal gardens.

Pearson has already been working with our gardens team to make early improvements within existing budget, such as replanting the areas around the Magnolia Steps. Following the immense generosity of three donors who funded Dan Pearson to create his visionary Gardens Masterplan, lovers of the gardens are invited to look out for opportunities to support the delivery of some of the proposed projects such as those within the Tiltyard, Churchyard and Walled Garden in future public fundraising campaigns. Donations can be made online to the ongoing maintenance and development of the gardens here.

Meanwhile Totnes and Dartington residents packed out talks on our development proposals for Dartington Hall. These included 2018 plans to refit the Roundhouse following the success of the Green Table café; and to remake the Shops at Shinner’s Bridge as a place of food and craft production.

The Trust also invited feedback on a revised custom-build project drafted by architects Ash Sakula, that aims to be accessible to a greater section of our community. The consultation event was repeated in late March to meet huge interest in the project, the first residential development since Trust CEO Rhodri Samuel’s arrival.

Longer term development plans on the estate shared by the estate team include alterations and additions to the Foxhole building to become a centre for multidisciplinary learning and progressive enterprise; refurbishment of Dartington Hall accommodation and the White Hart restaurant and bar; and restoration of High Cross House. Early thoughts on improving transport, movement and parking on and off the estate were also discussed.

The Trust sought the local farming community’s views on how it can best use its land to meet the farming challenges of the future, following the unique collection of 20 food producers, land-based enterprises and conservation projects it has hosted since its last public consultation in 2011. Ideas discussed included trialling new farming technologies balanced with nature; engaging young people in land learning and employment; and increasing estate food production, biodiversity and renewable energy generation.

Food mostly grown on the estate or nearby was prepared for 40 people on Saturday night by TV chef and Dartington’s Director of Food and Drink Oliver Rowe and Green Table café chef Tara Vaughan-Hughes. They invented a new dessert, Dartington Mess – loaded with meringues, whipped cream, apples, rhubarb and custard, which followed a standing rib of roast beef or lentil buckwheat loaf for vegetarians, all enjoyed to the pre-Appalachia tunes of Totnes band, The Farwells.

Interactive talks on the future of arts, social justice, learning and food at Dartington were popular, as were craft workshops in the estate’s international modernist building High Cross House where strangers young and old sat together to make twine, and collaborated to print messages to friends using rubber erasers.

Finally, local people got their dancing wellies on to be part of international global choreography of Pina Bausch’s Nelkin Line, that went ahead joyfully despite the Devon rain. Bausch was taught by influential choreographer Kurt Jooss (and choreographer of the The Green Table ballet), who worked at Dartington from 1934 to ‘40.




One thought on “Local community hear Dartington Hall’s ambitious plans to reconnect to founders’ 1920s vision

  1. Many of Dan Pearsons plans were too grandiose like the orchard replacing the car park , and did not nhonour Dorothy’s original structure
    Need much more consultations
    They were very scribble as well

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