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  • Writer's pictureGethin Thomas

Dartmouth Circular Vertical Walk Part 2

I left Part 1 at the highest point of the walk where Dartmouth is a place of narrow lanes with high walls and mostly invisible large properties tucked mysteriously away. This Mail Box is over a hundred years old with it's initials for Victoria Regina and the crown monogram.

Just visible is this pseudo castle in large grounds, hidden in the undergrowth. The castle motif being one that sits well in Dartmouth with it's history of defence against invasion for over a thousand years. This property is more likely built by a retired sea captain or merchant with it's tower vantage point looking out to sea from whence the wealth of Dartmouth's traders came.

A miniature Gothic doorway leads to it's secret garden for those with a key.

Steepways, pretty much says it all, more accurate at least than Tides Reach, mentioned in Part 1. Also in Part 1 there was a warning about the narrow road ahead being only five feet wide, well this is it. Plenty of room for the packhorses though, which would have been the main road transport around here until around 1800. The lack of garages or even coach houses in properties around here is pretty self-explanatory. A boat on the quay was the main way out, either along the coast or up river to Totnes with it's comparatively better transport links, like an actual bridge across the river, the first crossing of the Dart if tackled from a seaward direction.

Speaking of garages, they came later as infill. Today if you want to keep a car in the town one of these rare luxuries will cost you upwards of £50,000 or $65,000 US. Most, have no power or water, that would be thousands more.

I do like the accidental colour swatch palette of greens and blues here though.

This row is the back view of those Georgian houses in Part 1.

Half way down to the market and we are still above the rooftops.

In the market square is this very grand animal water trough. At the time it was installed in 1898 there had likely never been a car in Dartmouth. Next to the market would have been a focus for animals, both those brought for sale, and those used as transport to get there.

No longer used for quenching the thirst of animals simply because there are none to use it, there is no livestock sold in the market and no horse transport anymore.

The inscription reads-


In Memory of Henrietta Loraine

Foundress of the South Devon Branch R.S.P.C.A.

And for 10 years Hony. Sect. of the Torquay Anti-Vivisection Society

I was thinking there was an early hint of Feminism in the inscription with the use of the word Foundress, when it is surely a non-gendered word already. Would Founder not have sufficed? It turns out that the early rights for women campaigns and also rights for animals campaigns were closely allied.

Anyway I put the name of the "Foundress" into Google and discovered that the most famous Henrietta Lorain was Princess Henrietta of Lorraine who coincidentally, in 1633 escaped France dressed as a man. Her sister Margaret had dangerously, married the brother of the King. The King was not amused and banished all three of them.

I can't find out anything more about our Henrietta so this memorial literally does remind us of her, like nothing else does.

The Victoria Street Society, which became the National Anti-Vivisection Society in 1897, was the world’s first anti-vivisection organisation. Founded in 1875 by Frances Power Cobbe and Toni Doran, the Society was supported by many of the social reformers of the day who were also working for the rights of women, children and workers. Public opposition to vivisection caused the Government to appoint the First Royal Commission on Vivisection in 1875. This led to the Cruelty to Animals Act 1876, an Act that remained in force for 110 years until it was replaced by the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986. (

Vivisection - The practice of performing operations on live animals for the purpose of experimentation or scientific research.

Unattended animals would probably have been a major problem in a busy market town like Dartmouth, with so many pubs, hence the strict rules listed below. I mean, what do you do with your packhorses, or donkeys, or cows while you while away an hour or two in the pub on market day.

If you could go back to the Dartmouth of a hundred and fifty years ago you would find the town very different from the pretty and pleasant place it is today. In those days Dartmouth was a busy commercial port, and by modern standards it would be considered dirty, smelly and cramped. Trading vessels, many still under sail, would come and go. The crews of these ships had often been at sea for many long months, and when they finally set foot on dry land again there were only two things they wanted – alcohol, and female company.

So, Dartmouth’s 19th century pub trade flourished. In the 1850s there were over twenty licensed premises in the town. Many consisted of little more than the front room of someone’s house or shop where foaming pints of beer – often brewed in the back room – would be dispensed to thirsty sailors. (The Old Pubs of Dartmouth)

This was the first time I had spotted this sign up on the roof of the former Union Inn, as today it is better known as The Dolphin, with a beautiful sea green Victorian tiled frontage.

Back in the market is this memorial plaque to a charitable bequest. As far as I can tell, Henry Blondett was the publican of The Trafalgar pub back in the 1850's. In any case £850 was a considerable bequest at that time, the equivalent of £56,000 at today's prices. The interest was to be used annually at Christmas for the benefit of 100 residents to have attained the age of sixty. Average life expectancy in 1885 was 45 years. Notably, a man and wife could not both receive the gift.

This building below, is the Dartmouth Lock - up. Most towns had a small lock - up where local magistrates or constables could incarcerate a drunkard overnight, for example.

This opened in 1828 and is described as a courthouse.

Built on land reclaimed from the medieval tidal mill pond, and situated within the square courtyard of the market building.

There follow some photos of the market and neighbouring properties.

6 Market Street is Grade 2 Listed by English Heritage.

House. c1830. Ground floor has 8/12-pane sashes either side of central doorway which is recessed up 2 steps and contains a 6-panel door under a plain triangular-headed fanlight and attractive open-pediment hood supported on carved putti.

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David Nurse
David Nurse
Apr 18, 2022

Another good post.

I wonder when the Christmas gift came to an end? It was very generous and as the life expectancy was so low I would have thought it would have lasted quite a time.

I can't help but thing what was the extremist severity of the law was for leaving your ass in the street, heh, heh,

Gethin Thomas
Gethin Thomas
Apr 18, 2022
Replying to

I also wondered about the severest extremity bit, wasn't it being sent to Australia?🙂


Unknown member
Apr 18, 2022

So much to see and so much to capture. I am not going to ask how many photos you took of this area. Me I would have filled my card. Thanks for the tour 😊

Gethin Thomas
Gethin Thomas
Apr 18, 2022
Replying to

I lost count, but I seem to always end up in two parts minimum these days.🙂

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