156th Annual Conference, Dartmouth 2018

Royal Castle Hotel, Dartmouth. Venue for DA's annual conference 2018

The Royal Castle Hotel, Dartmouth

The Devonshire Association’s 156th Annual Conference and AGM will be held at the Royal Castle Hotel and the Flavel Centre, Dartmouth from Friday to Sunday, 1–3 June 2018.

All the events on Friday 1st and Saturday 2nd June will take place in The Flavel (Arts Centre), close to the Quay (TQ6 9ND).

Non-members of the Association are welcome to attend all events (subject to pre-booking and paying the appropriate charges), but will not be entitled to speak or vote at the AGM.

Printed copies of the event programme and application form for the Conference have, as usual, been included with the Spring edition of DA News, that was sent to all members in March.


  • You can see and download a copy of the full event programme here.
  • The application form can be downloaded for printing here.
    Applications should be received by 11 May, please.

The Flavel in Dartmouth, Devon

The Flavel Centre

Parking: There is parking available nearby and on the riverside, but both locations are likely to be full by 9 am and expensive for a day. Day visitors to Dartmouth arriving by car are usually advised to take advantage of the Park and Ride at the top of the town. Details of the Park and Ride service can be found on the Dartmouth Directory website, here.

For those attending evening functions, please note that although the Park and Ride closes at 7 pm., there is a normal bus service on the hour and half hour until 10 pm.

Rev. Peter Beacham OBE, the Executive Committee Chairman writes:

South Embankment

After the last few years visiting inland towns for our annual conference and AGM, this year sees us making a welcome return to the coast. Dartmouth, one of the county’s most beautifully situated and visually delightful ancient ports, has played a distinguished role in Devon’s maritime history over many centuries.

Its enviable sheltered position on the Dart has made it, among other things, the assembly point for fleets sailing to the Crusades; a very prosperous trading town during the c16-c18, including its link with Newfoundland which we celebrated last year; and since 1863 the centre for the training of navel cadets, now at the splendid Royal Naval College which provides the dominating motif of the modern town. And if this was not enough, in 1620 it was also to Dartmouth that the Mayflower put in with the Pilgrim Fathers before sailing to America via Plymouth.

Our conference will be exploring many aspects of the town’s proud history and engaging character in lectures and visits.

We do hope you will be able to join us – you will be most warmly welcome.


Public Lecture

Dame Suzi Leather

To be given at 6.30 pm. on Friday evening:

  • Dr Richard Porter: The role of Dartmouth in the training of naval officers.
President’s Address

To be given after the president’s installation at 3:30pm. on Saturday:

Other Topics

These will be presented (or summarised) in a session chaired by Professor Malcolm Hart on Saturday morning. This is still a provisional list.

  • A matter of conscience: a Devon family and the Great War
  • Exploring Devon’s shores and shallow seas: achieving Charles Kingsley’s desire to see it all, but for a moment
  • From Brunel through Beeching to bi-modes: 200 years of Devon’s railway system
  • From Pengelly and Worth to Pickard and Laming – highlights of 150 years of geological research
  • National Character Areas and the Devon landscape
  • Nature, the ‘Improvers’ and the development of the myth of Kitty Jay
  • The history of Britannia Royal Naval College and its role in the life of Dartmouth
  • The National Trust and coastal conservation in Devon
  • The study of caves in Devon: the legacy of William Pengelly
  • Tourism in Devon: the story of the county’s economic leviathan
  • William Spreat (1816–1897): photography of the Devon landscape 1857–1866

All the papers presented or summarised at the Conference will be included in Volume 150 (2018) of our Report and Transactions.


On Friday afternoon, 1 June from 3:30 pm. there will be an instructional and enjoyable walk around the town led by Mr Les Ellis, the town crier, and Mr Richard Rendle MBE.

Royal Avenue Gardens

On Sunday morning we have arranged two alternative events:

  • A visit to Dartmouth Museum for presentations on the impact of World War II on Dartmouth and the South Hams.
  • A visit to the Sharpham Estate with a guided tour of the vineyard and wine and cheese tastings.

There are two alternatives for Sunday afternoon too:

  • A guided tour of Britannia Royal Naval College. (Limited to 30 people. ID required for security purposes).
  • A World War I walk around the town led by Ms Gail Hamm, looking at the War Memorial, St Saviour’s Church and St Petrox Church.

Full details are in the Conference programme. Costs are shown on the Conference application form which should be used to book for any of these events.

Reports from the Sections

As usual the Sections have been invited to submit reports on their specialist interest related to the area around the conference’s location. These will be presented at the conference on Friday afternoon.

The following reports appeared in the Spring 2018 issue of DA News:

All photos on this page courtesy of Antony T. Buller, except where stated. Click on them to see larger versions. Conditions of reuse are here.