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A VERY BRIEF HISTORY OF DARTMOUTH 1152


1049 We know from archaeological excavation that people came to the hills overlooking the mouth of the Dart many thousands of years ago and made their stone tools by the riverbank. However, the earliest known historical reference to Dart- mouth was in 1049 although in the Domesday Book, for 1066 and 1086, only the estate of “Dunestal”, or Townstal (as it is now known), is mentioned.


1600


In the early 17th century, the town’s growth and prosperity was based increasingly on fishing. Sir Humphrey Gilbert, of Greenway, upriver from Dartmouth, claimed Newfoundland for the Queen as the first English colony in 1583. The trade rapidly became very important to the town. To expand the port, a programme of land reclamation began. In 1585 the “New Quay” was built (the east and south side of the Boat Float) with several new houses. Bayards Cove quay was embanked at about the same time. The New Quay was extended northward from about 1620 and then westward; more houses were built, including the Butterwalk, which was completed in 1640.


1147 Exactly when is uncertain, but next to a tidal creek on the west side of the river, two settlements developed – to the north, Hardness, and to the south, Clifton. In May 1147, a large fleet (over 150 ships) sailed from Dartmouth to take part in the siege of Lisbon, as part of the Second Crusade.


When Henry II married Eleanor of Acquitaine in 1152, England and south-western France became closely linked within a cross-channel Empire. Dartmouth was well placed to take advantage of the profitable Bordeaux wine trade, but a key stimulus for development was the Hundred Years War. Dartmouth became an important embarkation point for troops, supplies and naval expeditions.


1642


Dartmouth declared for Parliament at the start of the English Civil War in 1642. Despite a pro- gramme of heavy fortification, these were not enough to withstand Royalist artillery and the town surrendered in late 1643. A Royalist garrison then held Dartmouth during which substantial earth forts were added on the hills – Gallants Bower (which survives) above Dartmouth Castle, and Mount Ridley Fort above Kingswear Castle.


After the monarchy was restored, those who did not conform to the Church of England were excluded from public office. John Flavel, Vicar of Townstal during the Protectorate, and a cele- brated preacher and writer, led a large Dissenting congregation in Dartmouth, despite considerable harassment. The Flavel Chapel and the Flavel Centre commemorate him.


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