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Dartmouth, Devon

Historical Description

Dartmouth, a town formerly united, now divided into three parishes in Devonshire. It stands on the west side of the estuary of the Dart, 1 mile above the estuary's mouth, and 5 miles SW of Brixham, and has a station on the G.W.R., 228 miles from London. It was known to the Saxons as Ludhill; it afterwards comprised three villages, called Clifton, Dartmouth, and Hardness, and it is still known in legal documents as Clifton-Dartmouth-Hardness. It was burnt by the French in the times of Richard I. and Henry IV., it repelled an invasion of the French in 1404, it was taken in 1643 after a siege of four weeks by Prince Maurice, and retaken by storm in 1646 by Fairfax; it was the embarking port of the Crusaders in 1190, it contributed 31 ships in the time of Edward III. for the siege of Calais, and it sent forth some of the earliest adventurers who achieved exploits and made discoveries in the Arctic seas. It forms terraced streets on an acclivity, overlooking a lake-like expanse of estuary, encompassed by steep shelving hills from 300 to 400 feet high, and, together with its environs, presents a picturesque appearance. Two narrow streets of it run parallel with the shore and with each other on such a steep that the pavement of the upper is nearly on a level with the roofs of the lower, and they communicate by flights of steps. Many of the houses, both in these streets and elsewhere, are old and grotesque. An embankment extends a distance of 600 yards with a roadway 50 feet wide. The total cost was about £28,000. The castle, situated on the point of the promontory at the entrance of the harbour, consists of a round tower of the time of Henry VII., a square tower of later date, and three platforms for guns. A steamer maintains communication across the harbour with the railway at Kingswear. St Saviour's Church is a fine cruciform structure of 1372, has a south door of curiously ornate character, and contains a carved stone pulpit, an exquisitely handsome screen, a very fine altar-piece, and a piscina and sedilia; it was beautifully restored in 1887-88. St Petrox Church, situated close to the castle, is very ancient, consists of nave, aisles, and sanctuary, with western embattled tower, and had formerly a chantry; it was reseated in 1885. St Petrox new church in the town consists of nave, chancel, aisles, and sanctuary. Townstall Church, situated on a high hill about a mile to the north-west, is very ancient, consists of nave, north aisle, and north and south transepts, with a tower, and commands a magnificent view. There are Roman Catholic, Baptist, Congregational, and Wesleyan chapels. A cottage hospital was erected in 1894. The town has a head post office, banks, two chief inns, and is a coastguard station, has two quays, publishes a weekly newspaper, is a seat of petty sessions, and has a police station. A weekly market is held on Friday, and a good trade is carried on. The harbour is landlocked, contains good anchorage for 300 sail, and is the station for the Britannia training ship for 200 naval cadets. Much improvement in both the town and harbour has been made in recent years. Acreage, 1924; population, 6025. A steamer plies regularly to Totnes. The number of vessels registered as belonging to the port in 1893 was 62 (2534 tons). The entries and clearances each average 1200 (130,000 tons) per annum. The town was incorporated in 1342, is governed by a mayor, four aldermen, and twelve councillors, and sent two members to Parliament prior to the Reform Act of 1832, but was half disfranchised by that Act, and wholly by that of 1868. The-borough limits include the entire three parishes of the town. The family of Legge take from the town the title of Earl, sind Sir Humphrey Gilbert, who took possession of Newfoundland; Davis, who penetrated to the Arctic Se& which bears his name; and Newcomen, the famous Baechanjcian, were natives of the town or its neighbourhood, The three parishes are St-Savieur, St Petrox, and Townstall. The parish of Townstall includes the hamlets of Norton, Old Mill, Warfleet, and Ford. - The living of St Saviour is a perpetual curacy, and those of Townstall and St Petrox vicarages in the diocese of Exeter. St Saviour and Townstall are united; value of St Saviour with Townstall, £170; of St Petrox, £179.

Transcribed from The Comprehensive Gazetteer of England & Wales, 1894-5


The following is a list of the administrative units in which this place was either wholly or partly included.

Ancient CountyDevon 
Poor Law unionTotnes 

Any dates in this table should be used as a guide only.

Civil Registration

For general information about Civil Registration (births, marriages and deaths) see the Civil Registration page.

Directories & Gazetteers

We have transcribed the entry for Dartmouth from the following:


Online maps of Dartmouth are available from a number of sites:

Newspapers and Periodicals

The British Newspaper Archive have fully searchable digitised copies of the following newspapers covering Devon online:

Villages, Hamlets, &c

Dartmouth St Petrox
Dartmouth St Saviour
Dartmouth Townstall

Visitations Heraldic

The Visitation of the County of Devon in the year 1564, with additions from the earlier visitation of 1531, is online.

The Visitations of the County of Devon, comprising the Heralds' Visitations of 1531, 1564, & 1620, with additions by Lieutant-Colonel J.L. Vivian, published for the author by Henry S. Eland, Exeter 1895 is online.

DistrictSouth Hams
RegionSouth West
Postal districtTQ6
Post TownDartmouth