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Chagford is one of the original four Stannary Towns of Devon, where tinners brought their hard won metal for assay and stamping. The town is a thriving community with many shops (thirty-four retail shops, a post office, two banks, four public houses, two churches, one chapel) and excellent leisure facilities, including an open air swimming pool - the largest in Devon (open daily from May - September 2pm to 5.45 pm). The town has many places to eat, with four pubs, a good restaurant and a wide choice of places providing accommodation.
Situated at the heart of Devon, Chagford is the perfect base for the anyone who is looking for a special place to stay or somewhere to 'get away from it all'.
Chagford is situated on the northern edge of the Dartmoor National Park. Chagford is a traditional moorland town, lying snugly in the shelter of a wooded hillside. With its collection of old stone buildings, cottages and fine 15th century church, Chagford is an ideal spot for the outdoor enthusiast.
The name literally means gorse ford - derived from the old word for gorse or room - 'chag'. The ford was the original crossing of the River Teign, now much improved by the addition of a bridge. The parish of Chagford is rich in prehistoric remains, with the area being used as a settlement, of one form or another, for a least 4000 years. A charter in 1305 designated Chagford as a Stannary Town, making the town a centre for the tin trade in Devon. Like Ashburton on the southern fringes of the moor, Chagford's prosperity grew on the proceeds of the local tin trade and export of locally produced wool - reaching a peak of prosperity during the 16th, 18th and 19th centuries.
The 15 th century church of St. Michael, originally dedicated in 1261, is worth visiting whilst you are in the town. The building features some finely carved roof bosses, including one of three joined rabbits - adopted by local tin miners. The sanctuary has an inscription dedicated to Mary Whiddon who was shot and killed on the church steps immediately after her marriage, on 11 October 1641. The death of Mary Whiddon at the church, is thought to have been the inspiration for R D Blackmore's - Lorna Doone. Chagford's old Market Cross is now part of the War Memorial which stands in the lovely church grounds.
As you wander around the town, you'll see many old thatched granite buildings. Endecott House (next door to the Three Crowns Hotel) dates from the 16th Century. It is named after John Endecott, a Pilgrim Father who emigrated to the USA and later became governor of Massachusetts. The building was probably once the town's church house. For 300 years it housed the local school.The local public house was originally built as a manor house for Sir John Whiddon in the 16th century.
Chagford has something unique for a town of its size: two world-renowned emporia side by side. James Bowden & Son and Webber & Sons have been in existence for over 100 years, and are both family run. Today they are known locally as 'the shops that have everything'. Bowdens also houses a small museum illustrating the early days of the shop and Chagford life over centuries.
There are walks on the surrounding wooded hillsides, fishing at the nearby Fernworthy Reservoir and of course access to the moors. Three miles north east of Chagford is Castle Drogo - the last castle to be built in the UK.
Castle Drogo is a testament to the skill of the architect Sir Edwyn Lutyens. The house was built during the early part of the twentieth century on a rocky crag, overlooking the Teign Valley. The building was created in the style of a medieval castle, though, it incorporated such luxuries as its own hydroelectric system and telephone exchange.
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