Welcome to Dartmouth Community Orchard. It sits between College Way (the main road into the town) and Ridge Hill / Mount Boone. The two orchard paddocks are linked by old woodland to form an unspoiled, rural area on the edge of Dartmouth. It is owned by the Town Council.
The paddocks contain approximately 150 apple trees of over 60 different varieties of traditional West Country apples, and the whole area is rich in biodiversity.
People come for quiet contemplation; to walk their dogs; to sit and admire the views over the Dart; or to watch the wildlife. They can enjoy the events held in spring to celebrate the reawakening of the orchard with its fine show of blossom and spring-time flowers, and in autumn to harvest the apples and make juice and cider.
History of the Orchard
1) A historic orchard dating back at least as far back as 1840 when it was recorded as an orchard in the 1840 Tithe Records. Tithe Map of Townstal, Coombe Area, 1840 Courtesy of DHRG 100130.
2) Recorded to be an orchard as part of the Raleigh Estate 1872. Deed of Arrangement between Sir JH Seale and JW Watts 8th April 1872, Courtesy of Mrs S Green, Raleigh Estates.
3) Orchard included in the grounds purchased from Raleigh estate in 1898 for the building of Britannia Royal Naval College under the Defence Act of 1842. Britannia Royal Naval College 1905-2005: A Century of Officer Training at Dartmouth. Published by Richard Webb, Dartmouth 2005. Authors Dr Jane Harrold and Dr Richard Porter. Map of BRNC, surveyed and drawn by S Blencowe, Superintendent Civil Engineer, 1905, Courtesy of Dr. Richard Porter.
4) Orchard separated from the rest of BRNC by the building of College Way 1969. Dartmouth Through Time, by Ginny Campbell, published by Amberley, Stroud, 2014.
5) Purchased from the Ministry of Defence (MoD) by Dartmouth Town Council for £15,000 on 23 December 1993 on the basis that the permitted use of the Orchard is deemed to be an orchard designated as open space or gardens. Land Registry Title Number DN338846 and Transfer dated 23 December 1993 made between (1) The Secretary of State for Defence and (2) Dartmouth Town Council.
6) Registered as a village green under the Commons act 2006 section15(8) on 2nd November 2021.
Arial view of the orchard
Map of the orchard
Winter Update 2024
The old electricity sub-station which now serves as a store room near the Ridge Hill entrance, has been given a serious upgrade thanks to a grant from Dartmouth Town Council and the brilliant work of Friend, Pete Forey. Solar panels with battery storage have been installed to give light and power. This means we can run our electric mill at apple pressing time, see what we’re doing during dark afternoons and even boil up some water for a cuppa or two!
Our town’s grounds team did a great job getting the winter cut done before Christmas. The spring flowers need the grass to be short so they can get the light before it grows back and shades them out.
Take a walk round and see the contrast.There are signs of life in the Orchard despite the winter cold - the first primroses are out already!
Town Groundsman Matt, along with donors Ricky and Dave and Friends chairman Peter, planted five new trees - all old Devon or Cornish varieties. They got an extra watering the following Sunday when a dozen Friends turned out on a lovely morning to do some work in the orchard. We continued working on the ponds and got stuck into some tree pruning. More people are going on the Orchard Link pruning course later in the month so that our core group of pruners will be expanded. With 150+ trees, there’s plenty to do!
Looking forward, we marked out a few steps to make the Butterfly Transect safer and checked out what needs to be done in the area nearest the Fire Station, so that we’re ready to go on the next Working Party!
Peter & Julie Jan 2024