An independent voice and a forum for debate for those who find Dartmoor a source of livelihood or inspiration


Devon & Cornwall Record Society event 'Desert Island Documents'

Posted in Events on Tuesday 12th December 2017 at 12:08am

Saturday 18th March 2018, 2–3pm, Exeter Guildhall

The Devon & Cornwall Record Society are holding a celebration of the archival work in Devon of the Dartmoor Society’s chair Dr Tom Greeves, in conversation with Dr Todd Gray.

The event is called ‘Desert Island Documents’ and more details can be found in the attached flyer.

Download the Desert Island Documents flyer

Desert Island Documents Flyer

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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

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Dartmoor Society Research Lecture 2017

Dartmoor Society Research Lecture 2017

Posted in Events on Wednesday 15th November 2017 at 11:28pm

On the evening of Friday 10th November, 75 attendees congregated in the Dolphin Suite at the Dolphin Hotel for our Annual Research Lecture.

The audience, consisting of both members and non-members, enjoyed a presentation by Martin and Shan Graebe who told the story of Baring-Gould’s journeys across Dartmoor in the late 19th Century and who from the age of 17, travelled in search of folk songs.

Martin described the men and women that he met and both Martin and Shan sung beautifully the songs that he found.

The whole evening was rounded off by an appetising buffet supplied by Robert and his catering team enabling everyone to socialise.

It was also an opportunity for people to buy Martin’s new book entitled “As I Walked Out, Sabine Baring-Gould and his search for Folk Song in Devon and Cornwall”.

It was a truly unique and special evening that everyone thoroughly enjoyed.

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"Dartmoor: A Wild and Wondrous Region" Exhibition

Posted in Events on Wednesday 15th November 2017 at 11:21pm

Peter Mason has kindly forwarded details of a forthcoming exhibition people may wish to visit that he has been co-curating, called “Dartmoor: A Wild and Wondrous Region”.

The exhibition is in Gallery 21 at the Royal Albert Memorial Museum (RAMM) in Exeter and runs from 22nd December 2017 to 31st March 2018, open Tuesday to Sunday between 10am and 5pm.

More details...

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Dartmoor Society Debate Cancelled

Posted in Events on Wednesday 18th October 2017 at 9:58pm

The Dartmoor Society debate this Saturday has been cancelled due to weather warnings from Met Office.

Chairman Tom Greeves writes: ‘In view of the severe gales forecast for Saturday (21st) and the weather warning put out by the Met Office, and having sought other advice, we regretfully think it prudent to postpone our Dartmoor Society Debate on ‘Are We Using Dartmoor's Stone Resources Wisely?’.

‘We are mindful that a good many speakers and participants would face long journeys in potentially hazardous driving conditions. With apologies for the disappointment and any inconvenience, we thank you all for your interest, and are of course happy to reimburse all those who have booked places.

‘Our plan will be to reschedule the Debate for sometime in October 2018, and we will be in contact with you all before then’.

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William Snell Morrish exhibition

Posted in Events on Thursday 5th October 2017 at 12:11am

William Snell Morrish 1844–1917

To mark the Centenary of the death of the well-known Dartmoor artist William Snell Morrish, who died in September 1917, an exhibition of some of his paintings is to be held at the Pepperpot Gallery in the Square at Chagford from Monday 6th November until Saturday 11th November 2017 inclusive.

Some members may remember the hugely successful exhibition in Chagford of numerous Morrish paintings, organised by the Dartmoor Society, in 2012.

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Den Brook visit

Den Brook visit

Den Brook visit

Posted in Events on Thursday 5th October 2017 at 12:10am

30 members of the Society had a fascinating visit to the Den Brook Wind Turbines near Bow on 27 September.

Nine turbines, 120m in height to the tip of their three blades, are spaced over an extensive area of farmland with grazing sheep and cattle.

18MW of electricity are fed into the National Grid through a substation (the only building on site). The site is managed from Glasgow and Exminster!

Buzzards wheeled among the turbines which emitted a low hum and whooshing sound. The course of a Roman road crosses the site as does the railway line between Okehampton and Exeter.

There will be a full report in the February Newsletter.

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Widecombe Fair 2017

Widecombe Fair 2017

Widecombe Fair 2017

Posted in Events on Wednesday 20th September 2017 at 11:39pm

A very BIG thank you to everyone who visited the Dartmoor Society stand and who helped make our attendance at Widecombe Fair on Tuesday 12th September 2017 such a successful occasion.

In total there were over 80 individual stall holders and as ever there was plenty going on in the demonstration ring, as well as the judging of animals and vintage vehicles on show, plus many more activities in the area of the Village Green.

We also felt very fortunate that the weather stayed mainly dry and this enabled people to sit and socialise and take in the special atmosphere generated at this annual show.

It was clear to see that both locals and visitors thoroughly enjoyed this truly unique Dartmoor experience. Many thanks again one and all and roll on next year!

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Pizwell Farm visit

Pizwell Farm visit

Pizwell Farm visit

Posted in Events on Thursday 7th September 2017 at 11:04pm

A record 49 Members attended our annual farm visit to Pizwell Farm which is one of the 17 Ancient Tenements of the Forest of Dartmoor.

Sue Martin did a fabulous job of showing us around both the historic and more modern farm buildings and explained about their various uses. The Old Pizwell Farmhouse which is a Grade 2 listed building also aroused particular interest.

After this, Frank led us on a spectacular walk across Riddon Ridge where we thoroughly enjoyed the amazing panoramic views. At the end of the afternoon we all tucked into a wonderful afternoon tea consisting of different varieties of rolls and sandwiches and home- made cakes and copious amounts of tea giving everyone a splendid opportunity to socialise in Sue and Frank Martin’s Farmhouse Garden.

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Dartmoor Society BBQ 2017

Dartmoor Society BBQ 2017

Annual BBQ 2017

Posted in Events on Monday 31st July 2017 at 11:55pm

On the evening of Friday 14th July Dartmoor Society Members and friends all enjoyed our Annual BBQ held at Heron’s Brook, South Zeal.

This was the second year the BBQ had been held at this venue and our hosts Helen and Wilfrid Hodges did us proud.

Wilf led a totally different walk showing our members a variety of historical Dartmoor features and the cooking of the sausages and the beef burgers was ably organised by Barry Welch.

The rest of the catering was prepared by Elisabeth Greeves, Helen Hodges, Tanya Welch and Caya Edwards.

The weather was superb and this ensured everyone was able to maximise on this thoroughly enjoyable and social occasion.

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Lukesland Gardens

Lukesland Gardens

Lukesland Gardens Visit

Posted in Events on Monday 8th May 2017 at 11:01pm

On Friday 5th May twenty-three members thoroughly enjoyed a wonderful Spring day visit to Lukesland Gardens at Harford. The gardens are owned by Rosemary Howell who is ably assisted by her son, John and his wife Lorna.

The weather was perfect with partial sun and clear skies and the beautiful colours of the Camellias, Rhododendrons, Azaleas, Magnolias and a wealth of internationally sourced trees made it a truly unforgettable experience.

The Lukesland Estate consists of a total of 24 acres and rather amazingly the gardens are maintained by members of the Howell Family and only two part-time gardeners.

Due to spasmodic flooding from the Addicombe Brook which flows through the Estate in a North/South direction there has been a certain amount of remodelling in the garden where we thoroughly enjoyed seeing the Brook cascading over various waterfalls and filling ornamental pools before eventually joining the River Erme.

At the end of the afternoon we all congregated in the “Old Billiard Room” for a very welcome cup of tea and a slice of homemade cake. Everyone agreed it had been a very special visit and is without doubt one of Dartmoor’s best kept secrets.

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Dartmoor Society AGM 2017

Dartmoor Society Award 2017

Dartmoor Society AGM 2017

Posted in Events on Monday 8th May 2017 at 10:58pm

On the afternoon of Saturday the 22nd April 2017, 30 Dartmoor Society members congregated at Yelverton Memorial Hall for the 19th Annual General Meeting.

Before the business proceedings, Tom Stratton, Deputy Land Steward, Western District, Duchy of Cornwall presented on “Managing the Duchy of Cornwall Estate on Dartmoor”.

At the close of the AGM business the Annual Dartmoor Society Award 2017 was presented to John Tuffnell, Treasurer of Kelly Mine Preservation Society based near Lustleigh. The mine closed in 1951, however since 1984 a small group of dedicated volunteers have worked tirelessly, year in year out, to carefully conserve, maintain and restore it to its present day first class condition, ensuring that it is now one of the finest examples of preserved rural industry of its kind in the country.

At the end of the afternoon we all tucked into a delicious tea prepared by the Executive Committee giving everyone a chance to eat, drink and socialise.

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Ugborough Church Visit

Ugborough Church Visit

Ugborough Church Visit

Posted in Events on Tuesday 4th April 2017 at 5:15pm

Our Dartmoor Society Members were given a treat on the afternoon of Tuesday 29th March 2017 when Dr Sue Andrew presented a talk at St Peter’s Church Ugborough entitled “Facing Sin, Roof Bosses in Ugborough Church”.

The carved oak roof bosses in the North Aisle are among some of the finest in Devon and although the bosses are not structural they do offer a sense of completion to the ceiling.

Sue had taken numerous photographs of these bosses and even had the advantage of getting right up close to them during a period when scaffolding had been erected whilst the North Aisle was being repaired.

Sue had also taken photographs of stained glass windows and bosses in numerous other Churches.

Her talk gave us a significant insight into the Medieval period and it clearly demonstrated how the Parishioners of that time were left in no doubt as to what would happen to them if they died unrepentant.

After Sue’s talk we walked slowly down the North Aisle with the use of a beautifully hand- made mirror-on-a-trolley and we also used our own torches and binoculars which assisted us whilst we studied the bosses in situ.

Everyone agreed it had been a thoroughly fascinating and absorbing afternoon.

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Tribute to Ces Hoult, Sunday 16th April

Posted in Events on Wednesday 29th March 2017 at 11:29pm

On Saturday 17th October 2015 the Dartmoor Society arranged a visit to Langaford Farm Trust and we were graciously hosted by Ces Hoult.

Sadly in December 2016 she passed away and the Trustees of Langaford Farm are hosting a special tribute to Ces and everyone who knew her are warmly welcomed to attend.

The tribute will take place on Sunday 16th April at Langaford Farm. Further details are in the following attachment:

Ces Hoult Tribute Details and Program

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Tin Mining and Miners of the Postbridge Area

Buddle Boys at Golden Dagger Tin Mine c.1910 (copyright Tom Greeves collection)
Buddle Boys at Golden Dagger Tin Mine c.1910 (copyright Tom Greeves collection)

Tin Mining and Miners of the Postbridge Area

Posted in Events on Sunday 26th February 2017 at 11:00pm

72 people consisting of both members and non-members gathered at Postbridge Village Hall on the afternoon of Saturday 18th February to hear Dr Tom Greeves do an excellent talk on tin mining and miners of the Postbridge area.

Tom provided us with a wealth of information focussing on the men, women and children who lived and worked in the Mines and the small settlements in the surrounding area.

Tom also showed us a wealth of historic photographs and brought the whole mining story to life by naming some of the people in the photographs as well as describing their background and the story behind the faces.

After our fascinating talk, we all tucked into a delicious tea provided by the Dartmoor Society Committee Members thus giving everyone an opportunity to socialise and to buy books as well as other merchandise.

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Vegetation Survey of Gidleigh and Part Chagford Commons

Posted in Surveys on Wednesday 4th January 2017 at 11:11pm

The Commons of Dartmoor have undergone significant changes in their vegetation over the last twenty years or so, largely as a result of reduced grazing by livestock as required by Natural England (and their predecessor English Nature).

In 2016 the Dartmoor Society commissioned Footprint Ecology to conduct a vegetation survey of Gidleigh Common and part of Chagford Common as a data-gathering exercise to inform us about the state of the commons now. The report, by Sophie Lake, is now available here.

Download the report in PDF format

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Dartmoor Society Research Lecture 2016

Dartmoor Society Research Lecture 2016

Posted in Events on Thursday 17th November 2016 at 11:51pm

Over 80 people, both members and non-members, attended this year’s Dartmoor Society Research Lecture entitled “The Dartmoor Conchies” – Dartmoor Prison’s Conscientious Objectors of the Great War, presented by Simon Dell MBE.

Simon gave us a truly fascinating insight on the subject and included themed war posters from the era as well as many authentic photographs of Princetown Prison and the surrounding area which brought this important story to life.

Simon has researched material on the “Conchies” for over ten years and the culmination of all this work is to be presented with the launch of his new book which is taking place in March 2017 at the Dartmoor Prison’s Museum.

After the talk everyone socialised whilst tucking into a delicious buffet spread, ably provided by Robert and his team at the Dolphin Hotel, Bovey Tracey. It was truly a very memorable evening.

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Winneys Down Mires Project

Dartmoor Society Debate - "Return to the Wildwood? Is Rewilding the future for Dartmoor?"

Posted in Events on Tuesday 1st November 2016 at 11:42pm

It was a first for the Dartmoor Society on Saturday 29th October when a record 116 people attended a very special Dartmoor Society Debate entitled “Return to the Wildwood? Is Rewilding the future for Dartmoor?” at Meldon Village Hall.

Matthew Kelly, author of “Quartz and Feldspar”, was our Chairman for the day and did a fantastic job of introducing and summing up speakers as well as inviting people to either make comments or observations.

Our excellent speakers included Robert Cook; Lecturer in Education for Sustainability, Plymouth University “Just How Wild Should We Be?”; Ann Willcocks; Dartmoor Farmer and Commoner “Why Bother”; Peter Taylor who has written a book entitled “Beyond Conservation” where he used Dartmoor as an example for possible rewilding.

Finally our very own Chairman Dr Tom Greeves; Cultural Environmentalist presented on “8000 years of culture in an upland environment ­ the elephant in the room?”.

A fabulous lunch was supplied by “The Original Pasty House” in Tavistock and tea was supplied by the Dartmoor Society Committee. There was a varying wide range of views on the day and the subject was analysed from a number of angles including “What might be the result if trees replaced open moorland or cultivated fields?”, “How would Dartmoor’s farming culture change, and how have recent conservation strategies already forced farmers to adapt to a form of rewilding?”.

The weather was a beautiful Autumnal day which meant that in the break times everyone was able to retreat outside and enjoy the stunning Dartmoor air and views. Everyone agreed that it had been a truly stimulating, educational and thoroughly enjoyable day.

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PCWW Stones Restoration Day

PCWW Stones Restoration Day

PCWW Stones Restoration Day

Posted in Events on Tuesday 1st November 2016 at 11:35pm

On Tuesday 18th October 2016 seven eager Dartmoor Society volunteers, namely Tom and Elisabeth Greeves, Barrie Quilliam, Tanya and Barry Welch who brought along some of their tools, Simon Booty and Alex Booty who kindly brought their Land Rover as well as some tools, all met at the start of the track to Nun’s Cross Farm. The purpose was to complete the conservation work relating to the three remaining PCWW (Plymouth Corporation Water Works) standing stones.

Special thanks must go to Graham Colton for the use of his tractor and trailer and his tractor driver Mark Cole whose help was truly invaluable.

In 2017 it will be the 100th year Anniversary of the original erection of these stones and the Dartmoor Society felt that it was important to restore them to their former glory prior to their anniversary ensuring that they are all standing upright and not waterlogged, etc.

Sadly due to the excessive rain we had all experienced over the previous few days it transpired that after reaching the third and final stone to be repaired, sited towards Eylesbarrow, both the tractor and trailer unfortunately got wedged in soft ground and proved to be totally stuck.

A very special thank you must go to Simon and Alex Booty who went all the way back to their Farm at Sherril and then returned to the site with their own tractor and trailer to assist with the situation.

After transferring the growan/subsoil from Mark’s trailer into the other trailer by hand and then attaching chains to the front of Mark’s tractor we were then able to gently pull Mark’s tractor and trailer to firmer ground.

The Dartmoor Society is greatly indebted to everyone involved with this project, and thanks to the restoration work carried out on the PCWW stones on three separate occasions this important work is now complete.

Next year the Dartmoor Society will be arranging a special walking event with the stones as the centrepiece in order to celebrate this vital part of Dartmoor history.

Write-ups regarding the two previous work days are available under ‘Archives’ dated 27th October 2015 with an automatic link to the project day prior, which had taken place on 2nd October 2014.

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