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Dartington Hall


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From the Telegraph:

Few places are more conducive to literary discussion than Dartington Hall. It sits amid bosky south Devon lanes, which wind for miles – and many wasted miles if you miss the unprepossessing turning by the church, which becomes the long drive to the hall. Vestiges of a long-gone moat mark the entrance to a serene oval courtyard, where the medieval Great Hall presides over a gaggle of subsidiary buildings. The atmosphere is collegiate but friendly. This is hallowed ground, trodden by some of the most famous artists – dancers, actors, painters, potters, musicians, philosophers and poets – through the long decades of the 20th century. . .

The White Hart, "fettered by a golden chain and coronet, was discovered during the restoration in 1925, and seen as a good omen by the homesick American heiress Dorothy Elmhirst, then making Dartington her new home". At the time, Dartington lay in ruins, but its history could be glimpsed in the "tiltyard terraces", jousting once being a favourite occupation. . .

Dorothy was a philanthropist who helped to found the New Republic. Her husband Leonard was an ardent and determined practitioner of rural reconstruction in India and the United States.

He "revived the farming and forestry of the run-down estate, launching weaving (with wool from their own sheep), cider-making and building enterprises, as well as the mixed, progressive school. Dozens – and later hundreds – of jobs, along with homes, shops and social centres, were created".
And Dartington welcomed artists, philosophers and musicians.

After Dorothy and Leonard died, Dartington began to die. Then trustees drew once again on Dartington's "aura of ideas, inspiration and beauty".

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