This section of the page features an image gallery, so if you're using a screen reader you may wish to jump to the main content.
A home for contemporary art and design
Built for William Curry, headmaster of Dartington Hall School, this Modernist gem was commissioned by Leonard Elmhirst and designed by William Lescaze in 1932. The house still evokes the ‘serenity, clarity and a kind of openness’ described by Curry.
High Cross is one of Britain’s most celebrated Modern residences, and we are presenting it to the public under our management, working in partnership with the owners of High Cross House, the Dartington Hall Trust until 29 December 2013 when we will be closing the doors of High Cross House to visitors and subsequently ending the lease with the Dartington Hall Trust.
In March 2012, we agreed to manage High Cross House as a Trust property on a ten year lease; this included a two-year ‘break-clause’. We took on the house with its indigenous furniture only; the living and dining rooms shown in their original state but the rest of the house as an exhibition area for local artists.
Despite hugely raising the profile of High Cross House, visitor figures continue to be below target and therefore are not generating enough income to make it financially sustainable. Experience has shown us that ‘new’ properties normally have high visitor numbers in their opening year due to significant levels of publicity and Member curiosity and drop significantly in subsequent years.
Gary Calland, General Manager for the National Trust English Riviera properties said: ‘Although of course we are disappointed at having to take this decision, over 21,000 people came and visited High Cross House in 2012, that’s something we should be proud of. As a charity we must ensure that we do all we can to protect the many properties, coast and countryside we already own and care for’.
Vaughan Lindsay Chief Executive of The Dartington Hall Trust said: ’As a Trust we are keen to give the public access to our Estate. Our gardens, in particular, attract many people to explore and experience their beauty. And we wanted to see if opening up High Cross House in partnership with the National Trust could also be successful. Unfortunately, the house has not attracted as many people as had been hoped for and the National Trust have decided they don’t want to continue with the arrangement. We will now be looking at alternative ways we can share this remarkable modernist building.’
We've had a rolling programme of exhibitions within the house, and on 20 November the final round was unveiled.
Come along between 20 November and 29 December to see the work of the Society of Wood Engravers, Bookbinders of Dartington, Phil Dixon and an artists' handmade book Arc-en-ciel: A rainbow in print and verse. Artist residencies include Sue Deakin, Suzy Waldron and Helen Billinghurst.
Celebrate Christmas at High Cross House with carols in the living room on Friday 13 December.
On Saturday 21 December follow our winter solstice trail and take part in Christmas crafts.
High Cross House is open Wednesday-Sunday until 29 December (closed Christmas day).