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Unusual Facts About Dartmouth


It is well known the famous author Agatha Christie lived on the banks of the


River Dart, that local engineer Thomas Newcomen invented the steam engine and the Pilgrim Fathers landed at Bayard’s Cove en route to America. However, did you also know Dartmouth’s charms attracted and inspired acclaimed writers Nevil Shute, John Masefield, Chaucer and Robert Graves along with influential artists


J.M.W Turner and Lucien Pissarro; or that its beautiful setting provided the back- drop for secret royal trysts and even helped to shape the history of Britain?


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The Shipman, one of the pilgrims in Geoffrey Chaucer’s 1373 Canterbury Tales, came from Dartmouth.


The colourful seafarer and skilful navigator had a penchant for piracy and is said to be based on Dartmouth’s leading merchant, 14 times mayor and privateer, John Hawley. Chaucer probably met Hawley when he visited Dartmouth as a customs officer of King Edward III.


Prince Edward VII stayed at Riversea House in Kingswear with his mistress Lily Langtry


between 1877 and 1880. In 1892 Riversea’s owner Henry Toms was granted the rights to Riversea’s foreshore down to the low water mark. This is a rarity on not only the Dart but throughout the Duchy of Cornwall. Whether Albert was still visiting and wanted to protect his privacy from people walking along the foreshore at low tide, or whether Toms, by his own wishes, was granted this concession in recognition of his past discretion, is unclear.


3


Dartmouth Regatta is a Royal Regatta because


Queen Victoria and Prince Albert visited the waterborne event in 1856 – only they didn’t. The Royal couple sheltered in the Dart from a storm just as the town was build- ing up to Regatta Week, and granted the ‘Royal’ honorific and cash for two prizes to be awarded at the event, but then sailed before the races began.


Legend has it the River Dart played a major role in the history of Britain. It is claimed after the Trojan War between Greece and Troy in the 12th century BC, the defeated Trojans set out to find a new home.


Following the advice of the oracle Diana, who suggested the Trojans should travel to an island in the Western Seas possessed by giants, the young Prince Brutus set sail for Great Britain – then called Albion. Brutus sailed up the River Dart, came ashore (in Totnes) and is said to have named Britain after himself.


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