The Dovegreyreader has made several comments to me to the effect that reading Milady’s posts here save her a great deal of time and expense and the bother of travelling when she can read about the places that appeal – with her feet up by the fire in winter or in her deckchair in the garden in summer. Well, last Thursday she was persuaded to leave home and travel a few miles across misty Dartmoor to join me and act as guide for the day at the Dartington Estate near Totnes.
The arrangement was to meet late morning at The Cider Press Centre, now called simply, and to the point, Dartington Shops. This was the part of the Estate that I was already familiar with and it was by mutual consent that we headed straight for Cranks Restaurant. I’d eaten here many times over the years since the early 1980s and I have the cookery book still. It’s been well-used and the recipes are well-loved. The restaurant and the food were little-changed and with tea and cake followed later by soup and cheese scones we clung to our table for probably three hours (who’s counting the time when there is so much book and family talk to catch up with??).
Eventually we decided a walk was in order as that had been the ‘plan’ for the day in the first place and our reason for meeting at Dartington; besides we needed to work up an appetite in order to take afternoon tea at some point later in the day!
We headed straight out of the car park along a public path (past the former Dartington School) and along the main approach road to Dartington Hall to our first port-of-call the School’s former Headmaster’s House – High Cross House.
It’s now under the auspices of The National Trust and is a fine example of Modernist architecture and a host to a number of exhibitions and resident artists. There’s a cafe (that spreads out onto a roof terrace in summer) and small bookshop. The house has a relaxed atmosphere and you may sit on the chairs and handle the books.
Comfy chair originally to be found in the common rooms at Dartington Hall residences
Colour Theory and the View of High Cross House Garden
Staircase at High Cross House
Any artist who is in residence that day and helpful room stewards will also answer any questions you may have. Here is the NT brief resumé of the house :
“Built for William Curry, headmaster of Dartington Hall School, this Modernist gem was commissioned by Leonard Elmhirst and designed by William Lescaze in 1932. The house still evokes the ‘serenity, clarity and a kind of openness’ described by Curry.
High Cross is one of Britain’s most celebrated Modern residences, and we are excited to be presenting it to the public under our management, working in partnership with the owners of High Cross House, the Dartington Hall Trust.
The architecturally important building is playing host to contemporary art exhibitions and sales, talks, demonstrations and musical evenings, and is a perfect and unusual space for events. High Cross is to become a local centre for contemporary arts, as a community-led sustainable model of management.”
View from the footpath – High Cross House to Dartington Hall
From the HCH we headed towards Dartington Hall which I particularly know of as host to the summer Ways With Words literary festival. I’ve only heard of it and read about it but DGR has attended and participated there. This makes her the perfect guide to the estate and buildings.
In the gardens we admired the autumn colours and sculptures and topiary and we entered the Hall and the Residences. Lynne painted a vivid picture of leisurely picnic lunches, crowded halls of participants on tiered seating and comfy common room chats bringing the summer festival alive for me.
Dartington Hall and Garden Topiary
Henry Moore Reclining Figure Sculpture
The Dartington Hall
Calligraphy at Dartington