Dartington Parish is to be found in the South Hams area of South Devon.
The earliest recorded mention of what is now known as Dartington was in 833
AD in the records of King Egbert of Wessex. By then, the area had been
successfully occupied by the Anglo-Saxons and the region between
Plymouth and the Dart was already known as the Hams - a region of farm
settlements in the valley bottoms. Although Dartington was still
probably subject to marauding visits from the Danes, it prospered and
grew rich. By the time of the Norman conquest, Dartington was clearly
one of the most prosperous settlements in the county and Doomsday
records show the present pattern of settlement with scattered hamlets
and farmsteads was already established by then. Indeed there never has
been a village of Dartington.
For the next 500 years the fortunes of the owners of Dartington were
entwined with the struggles for wealth and power which flowed through
Europe and in 1388 the building of Dartington Hall was designed to
reflect the position and wealth of its owner, the Lord of the Manor of
Dartington, probably a larger area than the present parish.
In 1554 the Champernowne family came into possession of the manor and over
the next 400 years eleven generations occupied and quietly managed the
hall and its lands.
The agricultural depression of the 19th and early 20th Century led to the
breakup of the wider Dartington Estate, to the departure of the
Champernownes and the sale of what was left of the Estate to the
Elmhirsts. They set up an experimental project concerned with rural
regeneration, education, and the arts and it is for these activities
that Dartington is now generally known in the wider world.
(Ref: Anthony Emery: Dartington Hall (1970)).