Dartmouth is a town and civil parish in the English county of Devon. It is a tourist destination set on the western bank of the estuary of the River Dart, which is a long narrow tidal river that runs inland as far as Totnes. It lies within the South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and South Hams District. For one of the most memorable holidays, Devon can surely deliver.
Set in a picturesque location on the River Dart, the historic town of Dartmouth is hugged in a protective embrace by the surrounding Devon hills. This small naval port has played an important role in the UK’s nautical history and its colourful past is of great interest to those intrigued by the happenings of yesteryear. With many stories to tell and adventures to reveal, Dartmouth is an ideal place to start your journey back in time. A deep-water port for sailing vessels, Dartmouth has always been of strategic importance. As far back as 1147 and 1190 it was used as the sailing point for the Crusades, and War fleet Creek is allegedly named after the vast fleets that assembled there. For over 600 years Dartmouth Castle has guarded the narrow entrance to the port. The Castle’s defences were started in 1388 by John Hawley, Dartmouth’s most celebrated medieval figure. A wealthy merchant, landowner, mariner and licensed pirate, Hawley was elected Mayor of Dartmouth 14 times and was seen as a local hero. He was the inspiration for Geoffrey Chaucer’s ‘Shipman’ in his great work The Canterbury Tales. Hawley’s tomb resides in the Church of St Saviour. Bayard’s Cove is Dartmouth’s oldest wharf and the cobbled quayside is where the Mayflower moored up in 1620 as the Pilgrim Fathers made their way from Southampton to America on their voyage to discover the New World.
The town itself is brimming with ancient buildings that all have their own stories to tell. Agincourt House by the Lower Ferry dates back to the 14th Century. Dartmouth’s much-loved Butter walk, with its sloping floor, intricately carved wooden fascia and supporting granite columns, dates back to 1635, while the Royal Castle Hotel on the Quay was built in 1639.