On Saturday the Flavel hosted an event run by the Dartmouth History Research Group.

An audience of more than 140 people sat entranced as speakers from the DHRG spoke about the history of four local houses.

The four speakers, Gail Ham, Maureen Harris, Jonathan Turner, and Brian Parker had each chosen a different property, a different era and a different approach.

These methods worked really well as the researchers were able to tell the story of Dartmouth through the ages using the stories of the houses and their inhabitants.

The talks included stories of sea captains who had sailed the world and master mariners who fought against privateers, families who survived during the English Civil War and worked hard to defend the country in the Commonwealth Navy, 19th century builders who had used radically different construction materials and a doctor, remembered by some in the audience, who had seen the start of the NHS and built a surgery as part of his house.

Jan Barwick, who attended the event, said she “loved the way the history and inhabitants of the houses tied in with both local and national events”.

The talks made it clear that through the ages, Dartmouth and its people  had played their part on a world stage, developing the Newfoundland fish trade, defeating the Spanish Armada, developing steam power, preparing for the D Day landings.

One person had even been present at an event mentioned  by Samuel Pepys in his diary.

These were all areas of activity that had provided sources that helped trace the history of individual people and their homes.

Another  of the audience, Brian Longman, spoke about the research methods used: “It was fascinating to see the sources the researchers had used to trace the history and occupants of the houses down the centuries.  DHRG is obviously a fountain of local knowledge and historical advice to anyone researching their ancestry, their house and the local area.”

The DHRG have produced a guidance note on researching the history of a house in the surrounding area which can be downloaded from their website www.dartmouth-history.org.uk.

The website also has more information about the group’s next meeting on December 4, at the Baptist Church Hall, Carey Road Townstal,