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End of Year Seasonal Round-Up

Posted in General on Thursday 29th November 2018 at 10:09pm

As we near the end of 2018 we can reflect on a very successful landmark 20th Anniversary year packed full of interesting and informative events and activities.

With our Chairman Dr Tom Greeves at the helm we have had numerous highlights including an absorbing visit to Okehampton Camp.

We also highlighted an enlightening analysis of the present condition of the High Moor on our Gidleigh Commoners day.

Some very large audiences thoroughly enjoyed our unique nine day Music Festival and in October we conducted our Annual Debate entitled “Are we using Dartmoor’s Stone Resources Wisely?”

We also enjoyed a fascinating presentation by Adrian Colston for our Annual Research Lecture entitled “Why we disagree about Moorland Management and Grazing Regimes – The different narratives of the Dartmoor Commons.”

We are all beginning to think about winding down now and enjoying some socialising and hopefully some Seasonal merriment as well as some quiet contemplation I am sure; and on this note The Dartmoor Society would like to wish all our Members and everyone visiting our website a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year we are looking forward to seeing you all and enjoying your company in 2019.

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Dartmoor Life in the First World War

"Dartmoor Life in the First World War" Exhibition

Posted in Events on Saturday 27th October 2018 at 8:14am

The National Park Visitor Centre in Princetown is currently hosting the “Dartmoor Life in the First World War” Exhibition. It has doubled in scope since 2015, with more information gathered from throughout Dartmoor and the surrounding area.

The exhibition is open Tuesday to Sunday betwen 10am and 3.30pm and finishes on 25th November.

In addition, on 7th November, Chris Hoban will present his 1918 Tribute song cycle which includes “No Parades”, “The Padre” and “The Lily And The Rose”, followed after the interval by a participation reverie of songs from the trenches.

The performance will be at the National Park Visitor Centre, Princetown. Doors open at 7pm for 7.30pm and the event will finish at 9.30pm. There are only 70 seats, so booking is essential. Tickets cost £10. There will be a bar and there is plenty of parking.

More Information  |  Buy Tickets

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Short Film: Four Seasons on Dartmoor

Posted in General on Sunday 21st October 2018 at 9:47pm

Dartmoor Society member Steve Lavelle has shared with us a beautifully made short film he has produced, entitled ‘Four Seasons on Dartmoor’.

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Lew Trenchard Church

Coombe Trenchard Manor

Lew Trenchard Church, the Forgotten Garden and Coombe Trenchard Manor

Posted in Events on Monday 24th September 2018 at 11:54pm

Our Dartmoor Society Members had an absolute treat on Wednesday 19th September 2018 when we had three fascinating visits in one.

The theme of this event was to learn about the locality of where Sabine Baring Gould lived and worked, and where better to explore this subject than the very beautiful village of Lew Trenchard.

We started off having an interesting tour of the Parish Church of St Peter which was where Sabine held the position of both the Rector and the Squire in the Village.

We also visited the Forgotten Garden which was originally established for Sabine’s wife Grace to give her somewhere pleasant to walk to help her exercise whilst fighting Arthritis later in her life.

Finally, we had a tour of the very beautiful Coombe Trenchard Manor which was originally part of Sabine’s Estate and has been lovingly restored by Philip and Sarah Marsh.

This event proved to be a true feast providing both historical content and beauty combined and was thoroughly enjoyed by everyone.

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Dartmoor Resonance Music Festival
Photo by Chris Chapman

Dartmoor Resonance Music Festival Report

Posted in Events on Monday 24th September 2018 at 11:36pm

The Dartmoor Society has now published a full report on the Dartmoor Resonance Music Festival. You can download it in PDF format below.

Download the Dartmoor Resonance Music Festival Report

Dartmoor Resonance Music Festival Report

If you do not have a PDF reader you can download a free copy of Adobe Reader.

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Widecombe Fair 2018

Widecombe Fair 2018

Widecombe Fair 2018

Posted in Events on Monday 24th September 2018 at 11:30pm

On Tuesday 11th September 2018 the Dartmoor Society was delighted to attend Widecombe Fair. Despite the weather being rather windy and quite showery at the start, the day actually settled quite nicely enabling everyone who attended to enjoy all the stalls and exhibits as well as doing plenty of socialising.

We are delighted to report that “Uncle Tom Cobley” was there, as well as plenty of exciting things to watch in the Main Ring such as the “Dartmoor Hill Pony Display Team”, and a fascinating “Vintage Machinery and Farming through the Ages Demonstration”.

We would like to give special thanks to everyone who visited our stand (no. 4), both Members and non-Members alike, and who made it such a special and enjoyable occasion.

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Change of PO Box address

Posted in General on Monday 10th September 2018 at 8:53pm

Please note that from today, 10th September 2018, the Dartmoor Society’s PO Box address  has changed to the following:

The Dartmoor Society
PO Box 570
Torquay
TQ1 9JB

A redirection will be in place for an appropriate period in case anything is posted to the old PO Box address.

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Corringdon Farm Visit

Corringdon Farm Visit

Corringdon Farm Visit

Posted in Events on Tuesday 4th September 2018 at 10:47pm

On Wednesday 22nd August 2018, 32 Members congregated at the superbly situated Corringdon Farm near South Brent courtesy of our hosts Philip and Charlotte French.

The Farm is located 220 metres above sea level and considering how high up we were and the fact that the weather forecast was a bit changeable we were all greatly relieved that the afternoon stayed mainly dry; despite a light mist which formed, especially when we reached the highest spot which was in the area of Corringdon Ball.

On the way there Philip gave us a wealth of information about the Farm and the surrounding area as well as a fabulous insight into the economics and methodology the Family uses in the running of a Dartmoor Hill Farm.

After enjoying Philip’s tour of the Farm and walking over some of the Family’s 650 acre holding of land it was fair to say we had all worked up a healthy appetite and so we were all delighted to sit in their barn and enjoy Charlotte’s tea and coffee as well as tucking into home-made sandwiches and cakes prepared by the Dartmoor Society Executive Committee.

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Chagford Show 2018

Chagford Show 2018

Chagford Show 2018

Posted in Events on Tuesday 28th August 2018 at 10:06pm

On Thursday 16th August 2018 was the 118th Chagford Agricultural and Horticultural Show and as usual it offered a unique mix of farming, crafts and horticulture.

After a wet start the weather improved to offer a day of bright sunshine and a soft breeze so this helped to encourage an energetic vibe with live music playing and an opportunity to watch step dancing.

In addition there was plenty going on in the Main Ring such as the judging of Heavy Horses, as well as Terrier racing and this year there was even Camel racing.

The Dartmoor Society would like to thank everyone, both Members and non-Members alike who visited our stand, No 28 in Area A – your support is greatly appreciated.

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Gidleigh Common Day

Gidleigh Common Day

Posted in Events on Sunday 29th July 2018 at 10:45pm

A day event, hosted by the Dartmoor Society, was held on Gidleigh Common and at Gidleigh Village Hall on Wednesday 18 July 2018. Its primary purpose was to explore and discuss the state of vegetation on Gidleigh Common now, some 24 years after maps were prepared by English Nature (now Natural England) showing vegetation cover, condition and impact by grazing animals, in 1994.

You can download and read the report from the day below.

Download the Gidleigh Common Day Report

Gidleigh Common Day Report

If you do not have a PDF reader you can download a free copy of Adobe Reader.

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Okehampton Camp Visit

Okehampton Camp Visit

Okehampton Camp Visit

Posted in Events on Tuesday 12th June 2018 at 11:26pm

The conditions could not have been more perfect for 28 Dartmoor Society members when we arrived at Okehampton Camp at 9am sharp on the morning of Wednesday 6th June 2018.

It was no surprise to us that our day had been arranged with complete military precision from the provision of car passes and somewhere for us all to park, refreshments on arrival and a first-class slide presentation provided by Lt Col Crispin d’Apice.

This was ably followed by a fascinating tour of the Camp itself conducted by LT Col (retired) Tony Clark OBE who showed us the original horse stables, the old artillery Guard House and much more.

After this we were introduced to Mark Bullock who showed us around the Camp Museum before we set off walking up to OP22 ably led by Paul Fletcher.

We were given a fascinating insight into the procedures involved with a military training firing day and the views were absolutely spectacular.

Also, on the North Moor Willsworthy and Merrivale Ranges are used and on the South Moor dry training is conducted on Cramber Tor, Ringmor and Sheeps Tor.

This special visit was arranged to commemorate the final centenary year of the First World War and it was an absolute treat to be given such an in-depth insight into the special role the Military play in this unique place we call Dartmoor.

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Digital Editions of Dr Tim Harrod's Soil Map and Book

Posted in Publications on Thursday 7th June 2018 at 11:32pm

You can now access Dr Tim Harrod’s Soil Map and the associated 384-page illustrated book ‘Soils in Devon IX’ online. Recently described in our Newsletter no. 62 as ‘one of the most remarkable pieces of individual research and publication in the history of Dartmoor’.

Download the Map  |  Download the Book

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Dartmoor Resonance and the Story of Dartmoor Music by Tom Greeves

Dartmoor Resonance Music Festival Programme

Posted in Publications on Thursday 17th May 2018 at 10:14pm

Dartmoor Resonance and the Story of Dartmoor Music, A5 size, 64 pages, full colour, written and compiled by Tom Greeves, tells the story of Dartmoor music from prehistory to the present day, as well as giving details of each Festival event, and of the composers, conductors and performers involved.

The book will be a lasting legacy of the Festival and an essential Dartmoor reference work for the future. It will be published around 1st June and available for £3 + £1.50 p&p from our Merchandise page.

You can find full details of the entire nine day Festival programme and buy tickets on our Events page.

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Hillyfield Woodland Visit

Hillyfield Woodland Visit

Hillyfield Woodland Visit

Posted in Events on Thursday 17th May 2018 at 10:07pm

On Wednesday 9th May 2018, nineteen members congregated in the Car Parking area just inside the gates of Doug and Claire’s 45-acre woodland Estate.

The land itself is very diverse and as Doug and one of his volunteers Tony guided us down the valley past the numerous bluebells, Yellow Archangel and varied woodland, we began to wonder what was going to appear around the next corner.

Doug and Claire have struggled for several years trying hard to convince the DNPA that they need to build important structures which are vital to the day to day running of their organic pasture and mixed woodland which is approximately split 50:50.

On 11th April 2018 Doug and Claire heard the news they wanted when the Planning Inspectorate issued a report on their appeal fully supporting the building of the essential Barns which they had campaigned so hard for.

Our members thoroughly enjoyed the visit, and everyone was fully supportive of their valuable work.

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Dartmoor Society Award 2018 presented to Rosemary Howell from Lukesland Gardens

Celebratory cake marking the 20th anniversary of the Dartmoor Society

20th Dartmoor Society AGM

Posted in Events on Wednesday 25th April 2018 at 11:21pm

On Saturday 14th April 2018, 31 members of the Dartmoor Society attended the Society’s 20th AGM at Belstone Village Hall. The day dawned bright and sunny, and Belstone Village really looked at its best.

Our Chairman Dr Tom Greeves gave a fascinating presentation entitled “A review of our first 20 years”, looking back over the activities and achievements of the Society since its creation in 1998 and with the use of slides was able to highlight all the key events since the Society’s conception.

After the main business of the AGM, which included the formal election of the Committee Members, the Dartmoor Society Award was presented to Rosemary Howell from Lukesland Gardens.

The afternoon was rounded off with a raffle and a sumptuous tea which included a special celebratory 20th Anniversary cake.

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Steward Community Woodland – How a Part of Dartmoor’s Soul Has Been Destroyed by Overbearing Authority

Posted in Press Releases on Wednesday 28th March 2018 at 10:09pm

The announcement by Steward Community Woodland near Moretonhampstead that most of the twenty-one residents have now left, and that their homes and other structures are being dismantled, should send a shudder through all of us. It is the consequence of an enforcement notice issued by Dartmoor National Park Authority following the loss (in August 2016) of an appeal against refusal of planning permission for permanent residency, combined with the refusal of the Park Authority to countenance a new application for low-impact dwellings in the 32-acre woodland (which is owned by the community).

This is one of the worst environmental outcomes that I am aware of, having studied Dartmoor for more than fifty years. Future generations will be astonished that this has happened in one of our national parks, which are often hailed as leaders in environmental protection. After 67 years of existence it is surely not too much to expect Dartmoor National Park to be a beacon of environmental and social awareness, with well thought-out policies on how the resources of Dartmoor can best be used for the communities that live there, as exemplars of what could happen elsewhere? But it seems we are still light years from that happy state.

The community had lived quietly and gently in Steward Wood since 2000. Their homes had not been built by means of large machines scouring the earth and replacing the habitats of thousands of living creatures with concrete and brick, but had grown organically, through the skill of their builders, in a symbiotic relationship with the other occupants (plants and animals) of the wood.

Some of us were encouraged by a policy (DMD30) in the Development Management and Delivery Development Plan Document adopted by Dartmoor National Park in July 2013, which specifically allowed low-impact residential development in the ‘open countryside’.

Anxious to comply with the criteria in this policy, and to address the concerns of the Planning Inspector who refused their Appeal in 2016, in the autumn of 2017 the members of Steward Community Woodland submitted a detailed proposal to the national park for an imaginative new scheme of roundhouses and an ‘innovation centre’, which would be a base for the study of low-impact living.

Extraordinarily, the response of Dartmoor National Park Authority has been negative to an extreme (as it has been for the past 17 years). Rather than allowing the application to take its course, with opportunity for public comment and debate, they would not even validate it. They claimed that the roundhouse built by two members of the community from their own wood, straw bales, cob and turf, was not of appropriate design or scale for any other structures, and would not fit policy DMD30, which, on their interpretation, was meant to apply only to tents and yurts. This is despite Pembrokeshire Coast National Park having given permission for many roundhouses of similar type. Moreover, no sensitive person could say that the roundhouse in question was not a thing of beauty, to be marvelled at for the skills, craftsmanship and sound environmental criteria used for its construction.

This story is, sadly, one of overbearing authority unable to grasp intellectually or practically the benefits to be gained by Dartmoor as a whole from the Steward Wood settlement. How can a planning authority allow controversial new housing developments on greenfield sites in Chagford and elsewhere, and yet not embrace genuinely low-impact dwellings by an established and respected community in their own woodland, hidden from public gaze?

Many people on and beyond Dartmoor have for years recognised and celebrated these contemporary woodland dwellers, for the new and hopeful messages they brought all of us. They are inheritors of a marvellously rich cultural history, millennia old, contained within our Dartmoor woods. Those who know Steward Community Woodland, and what it aspired to, should seek out David Spero’s wonderful book Settlements (2017), which documents photographically Steward Wood and other low-impact communities in Britain.

If Dartmoor National Park Authority had adopted a similar approach, they would now be extolling the virtues of Steward Wood, which would have brought them deserved plaudits.

Unfortunately the present situation indicates that Dartmoor National Park Authority actually has no deep understanding of the environmental crisis affecting our planet, and no flexible will to allow serious practitioners the opportunity to demonstrate alternative lifestyles. This is surely not the sort of cultural behaviour to expect from a national park, which should be open to all new environmental approaches, and it is deeply concerning. We are thus all diminished, and Dartmoor’s soul has lost a spark of hopefulness for our future human relationship with the land.

Tom Greeves
Chairman, The Dartmoor Society

Published in Western Morning News, 24 March 2018, p.10

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Castle Drogo Hydroelectric Plant Visit

Castle Drogo Hydroelectric Plant Visit

Castle Drogo Hydroelectric Plant Visit

Posted in Events on Wednesday 14th March 2018 at 11:04pm

This visit on Wednesday 7th March was truly very special and all our Members thoroughly enjoyed it, especially considering the extremely cold, snowy conditions everyone had been enduring a few days earlier. It was so wonderful to get out and about walking in the early Spring sunshine enjoying the best scenery Dartmoor could possibly offer.

We started off at the very beautiful 17th Century Fingle Bridge with our expert guide from the National Trust, Tom Wood, and headed along a very dramatic River Teign towards the Hydroelectric Power Plant to see the two highly efficient turbines installed by Gilbert Gilkes and Co.

As with Castle Drogo itself, the building they are housed in was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens and Tom explained everything to us – not just the History and the flora and fauna of this stunning location, but also how all the machinery worked in conjunction with the Castle.

On the way back we stopped at the “Teign Logan” which in its time had been the “Number 1” Tourist attraction for Dartmoor. Dr Tom Greeves treated us to a couple of fabulous quotes which truly brought the whole location to life.

All our Members agreed this event had been a real treat.

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Buckfastleigh Visit

Buckfastleigh Visit

Visit to Buckfastleigh

Posted in Events on Monday 26th February 2018 at 9:16pm

Despite the very inclement weather that greeted our Members at the South Devon Railway on the afternoon of Wednesday 14th February it certainly didn’t dampen our spirits as we all set off for a fascinating walk around the town of Buckfastleigh led by our hosts John and Maureen Tuffnell.

The town is primarily known for its woollen, leather, mining and quarrying industries and in fact in 1838 there were over 700 looms operating in the town before it became mechanised.

Our tour also included a totally absorbing visit to the Valiant Soldier Public House and Museum which is beautifully preserved, and it felt like we were completely stepping back in time.

The whole afternoon was rounded off with some very welcome tea and home-made scones and cake in the South Devon Railway Refreshment Rooms.

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Dartmoor Society 2017 Accounts

Posted in Publications on Monday 26th February 2018 at 7:46pm

At our most recent Dartmoor Society Executive Committee Meeting which took place on Wednesday 7th February our Honorary Treasurer, Tom Orchard, formally proposed the approval of the Dartmoor Society End of Year Accounts to the Dartmoor Society Executive Committee. Alan Endacott kindly seconded them and then they were unanimously approved by the Executive Committee.

These Accounts have also been signed off by an Independent Examiner, namely Simon Murray, of Simon Murray & Co, Chartered Accountants.

It has also been agreed by the Executive Committee for the Accounts to be displayed on the Dartmoor Society Website with the view they will be recommended for full approval at the forthcoming very special 20th Anniversary Annual General Meeting scheduled to take place on Saturday 14th April 2018.

All Members are welcome at the AGM and there are full details regarding this event in our latest Newsletter No 61 and on our Events page.

Download the Dartmoor Society 2017 Accounts

Dartmoor Society 2017 Accounts

If you do not have a PDF reader you can download a free copy of Adobe Reader.

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Darmoor Peatland Bibliography

Posted in Publications on Wednesday 15th November 2017 at 11:38pm

Right at the start of the Mires Project in 2010 the Dartmoor Society identified that there should be a “library search” of all published literature relating to peat on Dartmoor as a normal procedure before embarking on any major research Project.

This was originally never done, however, later on there was a change of heart and Lee Bray, Head of Archaeology at the Dartmoor National Park Authority, has been instrumental in making this project now happen.

The Dartmoor Society are delighted to announce that “Dartmoor's Peatland Heritage – A Bibliography” has just been published by the Cornwall Archaeological Unit. The Society is very proud to convey that we contributed £1,000 towards the funding of this topical initiative; this has been acknowledged on page 4.

The authors, namely Graeme Kirkham and Ralph Fyfe have done an excellent and very thorough job and their findings are now available in their report.

You can download the report in PDF format below. If you do not have a PDF reader you can download a free copy of Adobe Reader.

Download the Dartmoor Peatlands Bibliography

Dartmoor Peatlands Bibliography

If you do not have a PDF reader you can download a free copy of Adobe Reader.

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