Dartington Estate and Gardens: A Hidden Treasure Worth Exploring




Dartington estate gardens, steps with trees

Visit Dartington Estate and Gardens to experience its medieval history, captivating gardens, and creative ethos. Whether you’re into relaxed café dining or tranquil strolls, it’s an underrated haven for relaxation and inspiration. Dartington has historically be known for its educational facilities, teaching arts, ecology and social justice.

What Does Dartington Estate and Gardens Offer?

Dartington has been a trust since 1925, and today still draws inspiration from its history of independent thinking. Today, it also offers a range of attractions which you can experience without being a student. You’ll feel the strong focus on social justice, community, conservation, and the arts. Whether you’re a student attending events or courses, or just a curious visitor exploring the estate and its attractions Dartington welcomes you to be a part of its vibrant atmosphere.

Being from Devon, I had heard of Dartington, and indeed visited before, but hadn’t actually checked out the grade II listed gardens. This visit surprised me – the simple atmosphere hid Dartington’s many attractions, and I feel overall more people should visit, that perhaps is somewhat undiscovered by the masses. Even during peak tourist season, it felt calm and not crowded. I found the gardens captivating, as if I had my own private space to explore and enjoy.

Accommodation Available on Dartington Estate

The estate offers a wide variety of accommodation, ranging from rooms situated in the medieval courtyard, camping and glamping, and the river dart cabin if you are looking for off grid tranquillity on the dart.

Places to Eat: Dartington Estate

Like a lot of people the purpose of our visit was simply to sample some coffee & cake and go for a relaxing walk. The sign posting on the estate is not always so obvious and this time we actually discovered a bagel themed café. This café was just along, opposite to the main visitor café towards the church tower. Additionally, there is a pub called the White Hart which was selling pizzas freshly cooked from the garden oven. Somewhat on the edge of the estate is the Cider Press Centre.

Montreal Style Bagels www.montrealstylebagels.co.uk bagels are baked onsite. They also run bagel baking workshops. This was our preferred option this time. Prices were very reasonable, they are throughout the estate.

Historic Gardens

The gardens at Dartington underwent a transformation in 1925, transitioning from Victorian formality to a natural, wild design with mossy paths, fern-covered walls, and spring flowers. Influential designers like Beatrix Farrand and Percy Cane contributed to this evolution. The gardens also feature sculptures, like Henry Moore’s, and ancient trees, including a 1500-year-old yew. Managed by the Dartington Trust since the 1930s, the gardens are tended by a dedicated team of gardeners and volunteers.

What I found personally striking was the size of some of the trees, their canopy of leaves was in some cases gigantic, reflecting the maturity of the trees.

Garden Tours & Accessibility

The majority of the garden paths are gravel and flat. You will find a few flights if steps en route, however there is a step-free route and a wheelchair friendly entrance. It was one of the most accessible gardens I have visited. The advice would be to call ahead of your visit for details. (see below)

The garden tours held each friday’s and are included in the entrance fee. Unfortunately we were not visiting on a friday, it was obvious that there is a lot of history attached to the garden and the estate in general, definitely worth exploring further and if you can plan for a friday visit, especially if you are a keen gardener or into history. Some of the events held are ‘coffee with the gardeners.’ See ‘event’ section below.

Pricing and Events

At the time of visiting an adult ticket was £5, child £2. There were a number of concessionary rates also available. The garden tour is free. Pricing link below.

The estate is open all year round and has an even schedule to match. The onsite cinema features films and National Theatre screenings. You’ll also find live arts and music, family events, exclusive member events, festivals and talks, tours and exhibitions. There is an onsite gallery of art exhibits.

Links to Further Information:

Dartington, Totnes, Devon, TQ9 6EL

For general phone enquiries, call switchboard on 01803 847000

Visit Dartington webpage: https://www.dartington.org/visit/

https://www.dartington.org/whats-on/ What’s on – all year round activities

Please note I do try to keep this site up to date, but as things change often, it is recommended that before travelling any distance you do your own checks.

If you wish to feedback on the site content please get in touch.

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