The harbour town of Dartmouth has always
attracted writers and artists, drawn to the peace and solitude
of the river Dart and the Devon hills beyond. Agatha Christie,
Daniel Defoe, Robert Graves, John Masefield, Christopher Milne
and Flora Thompson all wrote about the area, some of them making
it their home for many years. Artists such as J.M.W. Turner and
Lucien Pisarro recorded their impressions of Dartmouth’s natural
beauty and their legacy is continued today by many more,
including Bridget McCrum and the famous ‘Dartmouth Five’ – John
Donaldson, Simon Drew, John Gillo, Andras Kaldor and Paul Riley.
Dartmouth – An Enchanted Place includes many examples of
work by the writers and artists of this part of the world,
including the poets Brian Patten, Alice Oswald and Kevin Pyne.
Even one of Geoffrey Chaucer’s Pilgrims was the ‘Shipman’ from
Dartmouth. More than that, it records the history of the port,
whose sailors were among the first to explore the Atlantic and
whose merchants set up trading routes to North America and
helped to establish the mighty port wine trade with Portugal.
Dartmouth was the point of departure for ships for the Second
and Third Crusades, the Pilgrim Fathers in the Mayflower and
Speedwell, part of the D-Day invasion fleet and many other
historic voyages of exploration and adventure. Stories of local
entrepreneurs such as Thomas Newcomen, who invented the
atmospheric steam engine, are recounted alongside the town’s
experience in wartime and its long association with the Royal
Navy and the Britannia Royal Naval College.