The very essence of an English village, Dittisham lies in an area of
Devon known as the South Hams. A place of rolling hills and river
valleys, small villages and farmland, The South Hams is an area of
outstanding natural beauty. Dittisham is a jewel in this area. Sitting
on the western bank of the river Dart and at its widest part Dittisham
is only three miles up river from Dartmouth. It is a place of peace and
tranquillity, a place to sit and watch the boats bob quietly on the
water, a place to relax.
Dittisham was once famous for its plum orchards and indeed Dittisham
plums are still in demand and used by a local firm in its plum liqueur.
Today the village is better known as a holiday retreat and for it’s
sailing though it still has a busy community with a host of events and
activities. A walk up from the river will reveal narrow lanes with stone
built thatched cottages, two busy pubs and a quiet café overlooking the
water. One pub now houses the village shop and post office; the other is
situated on the waterfront overlooking the river. An ideal spot for a
quiet drink while your children play safely on the foreshore turning
over stones in search of crabs. Dittisham is an ideal place for a family
holiday whether messing about in boats, picnicking in the park or
exploring the lanes.
During the summer months the sailing club holds regular events and
welcomes visiting members. There are also visitor’s moorings for larger
boats. At high tide the Dart stretches for over a mile to Galmpton creek
providing a large clear area for sailing. If you do not bring your own
boat it is possible to hire one in the village and obtain information on
winds and tides. Places to visit by boat include Stoke Gabriel, Bow
Creek and Totnes.
In August Dittisham holds its annual regatta in which the whole village
takes part. Events include sailing, whalers, crabbing and a raft race
plus stalls and a barbecue.
One mile from Dittisham lies the hamlet of Coombe. In this hidden valley
you will find a small community comprising of a Hotel and restaurant,
art studios and gallery. Coombe Farm Gallery is known for promoting new
talent alongside internationally acclaimed artists and is open
throughout the year.
Just across the water by ferry is Greenway House, former holiday home of
the famous crime writer Agatha Christie and now owned by the National
Trust. This beautiful Georgian house and its fascinating garden and
bathhouse are open to the public. It has undergone extensive restoration
and contains many interesting and valuable collections some of which are
still in the process of restoration and repair. The garden is of
particular interest as it contains many rare plants and is the product
of years of hard work and collecting by true garden enthusiasts.
Dittisham has a history dating from Saxon times when Dida or Deeda
founded a settlement beside the Dart after the Saxon invasion of Devon.
The Domesday Book records the name Diddisham but by 1557 it was known as
Dytsham and has evolved over the years to its present spelling. The
Saxon influence is all around the area with settlements at Totnes and
Halwell. It was they who founded the first church in the village under
the Bishop of Exeter. A Norman church replaced this, which, by 1328 was
a ruin. The church was restored and reconstructed between 1328 and 1333
when Bishop Grandisson dedicated it to St. George.
The area has three famous sons, men who were to change the course of
history; Sir Humphrey Gilbert, born at Greenway became a navigator who
led an expedition, which founded the colony of Newfoundland while
searching for the North West Passage. He was lost at sea near the Azores
while on the return journey to England. His half brother Sir Walter
Raleigh, possibly better known, became one of the first explorers of the
new world, establishing the first English colony in North America. In
1595 he led an expedition to South America, returning with tobacco. In
later years he become embroiled in politics, was imprisoned in the tower
and eventually beheaded.
John Davis of Sandridge became a navigator and Arctic explorer. He
carried out an expedition in search of the North West Passage, which he
discovered and gave his name in 1587. The Davis Strait lies between
Greenland and Canada. In 1592 he led an expedition to the South Atlantic
and discovered the Falkland Islands. These worthies, along with their
contemporaries Drake, Hawkins and Grenville, all Devon men, altered the
course of history and put England very firmly on the map.
The Civil War touched the village when Fairfax and his soldiers visited
the church and defaced the figures on the screen and burnt the rectory.
This would have been when Dartmouth fell to the Parliamentary forces in
Looking around the village one sees houses of varying ages and it is
obvious that Dittisham has evolved slowly into the picturesque place it
is today. Lady Rosalind Northcote in her 1920 guide to Devon referred to
the village as ‘made for a picture’. It has changed in the intervening
years but its unhurried atmosphere is still there for the visitor in
search of peace and tranquillity.
PO Box 2001 Dartmouth Devon TQ6 9QN
Tel: 01803 833366 Fax: 01803 839498
e-mail click here
15 January 2010