Moretonhampstead is an historic market town situated on the north Eastern edge of Dartmoor and a great base for a range of outdoor activities, walking, bird watching, cycling, horse riding or golf. Within the town there are a number of pubs and restaurants to enjoy, hotels, galleries and crafting studios as well as an open air swimming pool. The town is easy to get to with Exeter Airport 5 miles away, a regular bus service from nearby towns as well as being accessible from the road leading to Exeter from Plymouth. The moor offers amazing scenery and is up to 2000 feet high within sight of the town.
A Brief History
In 682 AD this area became a major settlement, occupied by Saxons, known as Mor tun aptly translated as settlement in the moor. The Domesday Book of 1086 records the Royal Manor of Moretona, with a high population of sheep, which formed the town’s economy of wool and manufacturing of woollen cloth for over 700 years. In 1207 King John granted a weekly market and a five day fair, the fair continues today. At that time the rent was set as one sparrow hawk per year and the bird is the symbol of the town. At the end of the 17th century the woollen industry moved north to areas well provided with coal to provide steam power however Moretonhampstead provided a necessary stopping point and trading centre for travellers on route across Dartmoor. Many of the ancient buildings were destroyed by a series of fires in the last century although there are still buildings of historical and architectural interest remaining and parts of the town are designated a conservation area.
Points of Interest
Moretonhampstead has its own forge which is open to the public.
The Cross Tree was immortalised by R D Blackmore in his 1882 novel Christowell and is now only represented by a cross minus its shaft near the Alms Houses. This famous tree was an old elm, clipped in the form of a punch bowl and the villagers would dance around it.
The Alms Houses were originally build around the 15th century and built out of solid granite. They were refurbished in 1637 but in the early 19th century they were converted from two tenements into four but by 1938 they had fallen into disrepair. In 1940 they were purchased for the town and converted back into two tenements and in 1952 they were purchased by the National Trust.
St Andrews Church is a granite church that dates back to the mid-15th century. It is a grade I listed building and sited on high ground and has survived the vandalism bestowed by Cromwell’s troops on neighbouring churches.
Miniature Pony and Animal Farm – just under 3 miles from the town this miniature animal farm is a delight for children and adults alike. Not only are there miniature ponies and donkeys but also goats, calves, lambs and pigs, over 150 animals in total. There is an outdoor play area for children, a café and shop along with pony rides, talks and activities including horse grooming and feeding.
The Motor Museum is found at the old Bus Depot on Court Street. There is a collection of over 90 vintage and classic vehicles including motorcycles, Victorian horse drawn carts, cars, light commercial vehicles dating from 1920 through to the 1990s. There is also motoring artefacts and automobilia and you can view the work that goes on in the restoration workshop.
Green Hills Art Gallery is on Fore Street and is a well-respected and popular gallery with exhibits by Peter Randall Page, Susan Derges and Peter Stiles over the past four years. The shop provides space for the artists to exhibit and sell their work including paintings, iron and woodwork, textiles, ceramics and prints.
Becky Falls Woodland Park is under 7 miles from Moretonhampstead and has been voted as the most beautiful place in Devon. Along with the spectacular waterfalls there are scenic walks, children’s letterboxing and is also home to Meerkats as well as other small creatures.
Castle Drogo is the’ last castle to be built in England’ and is found under six miles away. It is a National Trust property situated above the Teign Gorge providing beautiful views, great walks along the top of the gorge and includes a beautiful landscaped garden and interiors designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens. Rounded off by a gift shop and a restaurant it is a great day out.
There are a variety of stores in Moretonhampstead including a pharmacy, convenience store, hardware store, charity shop and traditional green grocers. There is also an eclectic collection of crafts and artists units selling ceramics, ethical shoes, soft coffins as well as Green Hill Arts Gallery.
Where to Eat
There are a good number of pubs in Moretonhampstead including the White Hart, Union Inn, Bell Inn and the Horse. Bovey Castle Hotel offers great food, fantastic location as well as a round of golf. Visit Nibble & Scoff Cakes and Gateway Tea Room & Café to get home cooked meals or a full Devonshire Cream Tea.
The town Flag Festival started in 2011 and runs March through to April. The flags are made by a community of flag makers from fabric salvaged from thrown away festival-goers tents and off-cuts from the Cameron Balloon Factory in Bristol and each flag is relevant to the landscape, personal interest and connection to the town and surrounding moorland. The town becomes an open air gallery for residents and visitors to enjoy and the hope is to encourage art making by learning and sharing new skills.
There is an annual carnival on the fourth week in August which includes a funfair, live music, fund raising events, tea dance, country fair and finally a colourful procession through the town.
Chagford Agricultural and Horticultural Show is held on the third Thursday in August and is situated on the banks of the Teign at Mill End. Parking is free with buses running from both Moretonhampstead and Chagford throughout the day. There are rural crafts, agricultural produce, trade stands, horses, sheep, dogs, cattle and terrier racing providing a great day out for all the family.
There are two car parks in Moretonhampstead both with a small hourly charge applicable, although Sunday is free. The first is on Station Road and the other is on Court Street.
ATM’s & Banks
There is a Lloyds Bank on Station Road plus ATM’s at the Post Office and at the Convenience Store on Court Street.
There are public facilities on Court Street and also on Station Road.