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Moretonhampstead is a small hilltop settlement on the north eastern fringes of the Dartmoor National Park. Moretonhampstead is surrounded by some of the finest countryside in England - rolling hills covered in mature woodland, with spectacular views and ample opportunities to explore.
Although the locals proudly proclaim it as a town, Moretonhampstead is essentially a village in character and is located at almost the exact geographical centre of the county, making it the ideal base to explore not only the unique features of Dartmoor but also the whole of Devon.
Moretonhampstead has some impressive Jacobean style almshouses at the end of Cross Street, featuring mullioned windows and an unusual granite arcade. The date on the building is 1637, which is thought to be the date of some early refurbishment, with the main core of the building believed to be at least two hundred years older. During the 19th century the building was converted from two tenements into four; damaging the buildings facade. The building had fallen into a state of complete disrepair by 1938, before being purchased for the Town in 1940 converted back into two tenements. The National Trust purchased the property in 1952.
Mearsdon Manor was built in the early part of the 14th century by Philip Courtenay - Earl of Devon. The building, which is located in Cross street, is now a tea room and gallery.
The Cross Tree
The Cross Tree, was immortalised by Blackmore in the well known book "Christowell" is now only represented by a cross minus its shaft. The original 'dancing tree' (an old elm, cut and clipped in the form of a punch bowl -by which name it was also known), has long since disappeared, and in its place a beech tree has been planted. It was around the original tree that the village lads and lasses were wont to dance with "fantastic toe".
The Parish Church
The Parish Church of St. Andrew dates from the year 1450. The building is of the perpendicular period of architecture; constructed of granite with a fine embattled tower which contains a clock. The church is located on high ground adjoining the sentry.
A park-like enclosure of about 7 acres, adjoining the churchyard, with commanding views of the locality. The Sentry is a place of rest and quiet in picturesque surroundings. A section of the Sentry has been used for many years as a playground for children and owing to its proximity to the church, it has been suggested that its name originated from "sanctuary".
This region of the county was occupied by the Saxons at around 682 AD. The land was subsequently divided into vast estates. One of these estates included all the land within the boundaries of the river Teign and the river Bovey - with the hamlet of Mor Tun as its major settlement. The present Parish, which is over 6000 acres, is the residue of that Ancient Crown Lordship. Moretonhampstead is derived from the Saxon 'MOR TUN' or "the settlement beside the marshy ground".
The Domesday Book (1086 AD) lists the Manor of Moreton, with some neighbouring manors, as supporting upwards of 5000 sheep. Wool and the manufacture of woollen cloth formed the basis of the Moretonhampstead's economy for over 700 years. By 1207 AD Moreton was already established as an important local community - the town being granted a charter and the right to hold a weekly market and an annual 5-day fair King John - for a rent of one sparrowhawk per year. The bird has become something of a symbol for the town.
Moretonhampstead grew in prosperity throughout the Middle Ages until the end of the 17th century, when the wool industry began to decline. The town continued to be a local trading centre and a vital watering place for travellers on the difficult routes across Dartmoor and from Exeter and Newton Abbot. A series of disastrous fires in the last century destroyed many of Moretonhampstead's ancient buildings, but sufficient still remains to demonstrate the Saxon and Mediaeval heritage, and the later industrial prosperity. Much of the town is designated a Conservation Area, with many "Listed Buildings" of architectural and historic.
The Miniature Pony Centre
Easily reached by coach/bus Friendly encounters with friendly miniature ponies. Full supporting animal cast. Fine food, adventure playgrounds, nature trails and courtyard craft centre.
Extraordinary granite and oak castle which combines the comfort of the 20th century with the grandeur of a baronial castle. The last castle to be built in England, in the spectacular Teign Gorge.
Blackingstone Rock East Dartmoor.
O.S. Landranger "191", Grid Ref: 788857.
Mardon Down near Moretonhampstead.
O.S. Landranger "191", Grid Ref: 766877.
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