At the heart of 1,200-acre estate sit our Grade 2* listed gardens, open year round from dawn till dusk and freely accessible for all.
With a rich sense of history and a host of features to explore – from a Henry Moore sculpture to a yew tree at least 1,500 years old – the gardens at Dartington are often featured in best gardens lists. They are at their best in the spring and summer but have something to offer all year round.
If you do decide to visit Dartington, make sure you head to our Visitor Centre first, where you can pick up a beautiful and informative illustrated Gardens map to help you make the most of your visit. You can also hire an all-terrain mobility scooter to navigate our network of fully-accessible paths.
Gardens opening times: dawn ’till dusk, Mon-Sun
Entry cost: Free to enter
From the much-loved Sunny Border to one of the oldest trees in England, you’ll hear the stories behind individual features and uncover the Garden’s mysteries.
Help keep our Gardens special
Your donations help our Gardens team keep this special place beautifully maintained and accessible for all to discover and enjoy, all year round.
History of the Gardens
The Gardens at Dartington are steeped in history; a monument to the vision and enterprise of the great families who have owned it. Dartington originated in the 1390s when John Holand, the half brother to King Richard II, created a medieval manor house on the hillside overlooking the river Dart.
Dorothy and Leonard Elmhirst, an American heiress and her English husband, took over Dartington with the aim of creating both a home and a unique experiment in rural regeneration, education and the arts.
They repaired and reconstructed the dilapidated historical buildings, built new properties on the estate and worked with a series of landscape designers – clearing the tangle of overgrowth and moving away from rigid Victorian design to reveal the great trees, shapes and curves of the landscape.
Avray Tipping acted as garden advisor from 1925-1930, a time when the hall itself was restored from ruin. During the 1930s and up until war broke out, Beatrix Farrand, a noted American designer, acted as consultant advisor.
She was responsible for the courtyard, which is the only example of her work outside the USA. After WWII Percy Cane became advisor and he went on to ‘open up’ the outer reaches of the garden.
A closer look: The history behind our Gardens sculptures and features
The TiltyardThe history of our most distinctive Gardens feature
Henry Moore's Memorial FigureThe renowned sculptor's tribute to a key Dartington figure
The Sunny BorderHow one of Dorothy Elmhirst's favourite features has evolved
The Bridge by Peter Randall-PageA functional artwork that helps keep our Gardens accessible to all
Beatrix Farrand’s courtyard pavingThe history of a space inspired by the college quadrangles of Oxford University
FloraA statue gifted to founders Leonard and Dorothy Elmhirst by the people of Dartington
The Yew TreeThe oldest living resident of our Gardens, believed to be 1500-2000 years old
St Mary’s Church TowerThis 13th century tower is home to our 'Silent Space', a place of quiet contemplation
Apps to enhance your visit to the Gardens
Virtual Gardens companion
An app using 3D sound effects to bring a slice of history from Dartington’s Gardens to life is available for download (Apple users only). The app dramatises transcripts of a 1925 collection of travel correspondence taken from the Dartington archives.
Deep Time Walk
A walking audio app bringing a deep time perspective to Dartington Gardens. Not geographically specific, the Deep Time Walk dramatises the history of the living Earth. It is available for download on both Android and iOS devices.