Dittisham (locally pronounced Dit’sum) is in South Devon and near the mouth of the River Dart it is a fine ancient fishing port and real treat for painter and tourist alike.
I have visited here previously when I lived in London. Then it was about 250 miles, which included the dreaded M25 motorway, nicknamed ‘the Car Park’ by more cynical locals.
Today I live in Somerset so, its only about 100 miles away making the whole journey down less of an ordeal.
History of Dittisham
The village dates to 660Ad in Saxon times which, it thought that the name derives from, a Saxon called Deedas.
By the time it is recorded in the Doomsday book in 1086 was a church and 22 families, so that would add up to a population of about 100. It made its living through fishing, farming, and catching a bit of passing trade from merchant ships sailing up to Totness.
These the population is 424, so really it has not grown much at all in over a thousand years. That said, this is a bit of an illusion as most of the village today appears to be made up of ‘second homes’ or bed and Breakfast/Air B and B’s. So, the place is far fuller that the statistics tell us. Its full of tourists. Tourists like me.
And as a tourist I have paid another visit to enjoy the scenery and throw a bit of paint about. Essentially, I am taking a walk from the top of the village down to the small harbour to paint the Ferry Boat Inn.
St Georges Church
This fine example was is from the late 14th Century, replacing a far earlier building, and is constructed from a Bath Stone, with Red Sandstone dressings and a slate roof
It sits at the top of the village and must have been a handy navigation point for boats and ships plying the river up to Totness and down to Dartmouth and the Atlantic beyond. I expect its sill a navigation point today.
The Red Lion Inn
I painted this pub on a past visit. I am told it is not only a pub which sells a few fine local ales, but a village shop, Post Office, and library too. Also, each time I have visited there have been Dalmatian puppies in residence too. So that might be another outlet. I love a bit of innovation and diversification, so The Red Lion Inn is certainly worth a painting.
The views from Dittisham
As you walk through the village you are treated to views of the River Dart.
Its so good to see it still in a rural state with modest fields and villages. Its nor hard to imagine that Nelson and Raleigh would highly likely recognise the same essential geography in their day.
The harbourside in Dittisham
The focus of the village is down by the water. The harbourside is lined cottages and boats for hire. The Dart is a tidal river so it rarely gets rough as it would a few miles down in The English Channel. This delivers the fine opportunity of hiring river craft in relative safety. You can hire sailboats, Kayaks, paddle bards and all sorts. On a previous visit friends and I hired a motorboat and visited Totness a few miles upriver. It all felt rather adventurous.
Across from Dittisham you can see Greenway Quey, and above that is the home and estate of Dame Agatha Christie. The house is now owned by The National Trust and is open to visitors. Should you be keen to visit, there is a ferry running from the jetty in Dittisham over to Greenway.
To summon the ferry, you just need to give a large ship bell a sharp ring and the ferry man will come across to collect you. Not an App in site.
The Ferry Boat Inn
Resting on the harbour front you will find The Ferry Boat Inn which is the subject of my painting in the video. Locally its known as The FBI, has good quality beer and food and lets face it, you cannot miss the pink paint job. I managed to get down there at low tide as this was a best view of it.
It was an enjoyable piece to paint as I could enjoy the sunshine and watch the day go by. Because of the tide I hurried along a little bit. Thankfully, I got it all sorted before I got my ankles wet and popped into the pub for a few beers and a lunch.
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