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Visit Moretonhampstead, Dartmoor

Updated on July 11, 2011

Moretonhampstead probably has the longest name in England - people who create forms, take note, we need more space in the boxes to write! There has been a settlement here since around 680 Ad, and the town was mentioned in the Domesday book in 1086, so already you can see that this is a place with alot of history.

In 1207 King John granted Moreton (as the place is usually called, the full name being too much of a mouthful) a charter, so that the town could have a market, the rent for which was one Sparrowhawk a year, history which is celebrated in the many sculptures about the town. Twelve years later, the nearby town of Chagford also set up a market in competition, and rivalry exists between the towns to this day, further encouraged in the Civil War, as Chagford supported the Cavaliers, whilst Moreton supported the Roundheads.

Moretonhampstead, Places to Visit

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Moretonhampstead, Alms HousesMoretonhampstead, The Dancing TreeMoretonhampstead, The Union InnMoretonhampstead, Datmoor PoniesMoretonhampstead, Market Place
Moretonhampstead, Alms Houses
Moretonhampstead, Alms Houses
Moretonhampstead, The Dancing Tree
Moretonhampstead, The Dancing Tree
Moretonhampstead, The Union Inn
Moretonhampstead, The Union Inn
Moretonhampstead, Datmoor Ponies
Moretonhampstead, Datmoor Ponies
Moretonhampstead, Market Place
Moretonhampstead, Market Place

Twelve years later, the nearby town of Chagford also set up a market in competition, and rivalry exists between the towns to this day, further encouraged in the Civil War, as Chagford supported the Cavaliers, whilst Moreton supported the Roundheads. Just out of town, on the 382 towards Bovey Tracey at Wray Barton there is a pointed hill, crowned with trees, where Oliver Cromwell is said to have surveyed the area with his troops, before going into battle.

By the 1300s Moretonhampstead had become an important town for the production of woollen clothing, evidence of which can still be seen.

If you are interested in the history of the town, perhaps the best thing to do is visit the Tourist Information Centre to find out more about the Town Trail, or partake in one of the regular guided town walks.

Moretonhampstead Snow 2009

Tourist Information Centre

The Tourist Information Centre, is full of useful stuff, and the staff are always keen to help.  There are local books, ordnance Survey Maps, gifts, leaflets, 'what's on' information and a display of all the Hotels and B&Bs available in the area. 

Moretonhampstead, Dartmoor

 A wander around the town reveals many types of architecture, but people seem to be most impressed with the ancient thatched cottages, the oldest ones of which burned down a couple of years ago, and which have yet to be rebuilt.  Bow lane, through the alley next to the Bank (opposite The Bell Inn) is one of the oldest parts of Moreton, which still has its cobbles and thatched cottages.  If you amble down here you may even see one of the town's ghosts, an old lady in cap and bonnet, with her basket over her arm.  She leaves one of the cottages through the wall and appears to be going shopping, but fades part way down the lane.

Dartmoor Ghosts

There are several local legends about ghosts within Moreton and the surrounding areas. The 3212 road to Exeter, by the Sentry field and the Alms Houses is haunted by a black dog, whilst Watching Place Cross towards Princetown is a sinister place, as is Jay's Grave at Widdecombe, and the White Horse Pub in Moreton has more ghosts than you can shake a stick at.

If you're not interested in history, or ghosts, a walk around Moreton is a pleasant way to pass an hour or so. The market place is often filled with people sitting and watching passers by, or resting on their journey, or taking in the sculpture of the Sparrowhawk. Pound street (opposite the Co-op) has sculptures of Dartmoor Ponies and Sheep grazing, whilst dotted about in the street furniture are owls and mice.

If you walk along the 3212, Exeter road, you come to the Dancing Tree (sometimes called the Singing Tree or Cross Tree), a large Beech, the base of which is enclosed in granite, and where there is a Cross without its shaft. The Beech is around 100 years old, but previously an ancient Elm stood here. French Prisoners of War (Napoleonic Wars) formed a band which played here, whilst people listened and danced.

A few yard further on stand the Alms houses, two ancient cottages now owned by The National Trust. The date on the front is 1637, but this is the date when the frontage was refurbished; the buildings are around 200 years older than this date.

 If you are interested in taking home a souvenir, there is a gift shop, Longhouse Originals, opposte the White Hart, whilst Taja, the potter invites you to look around his Cross Tree pottery, as does Penny Simpson, situated just off the main road past the Post Office. 

The Tourist Information Centre and the Bowring Library have information about other artisans who run courses or tours from time to time.

Dartmoor Hiking

Moretonhampstead is the ideal base from which to explore the wild Moors, and Dartmoor Hiking is the online shop where you can grab essential equipment before setting off on your hike.  Click here to visit the store.

Food and Drink

There are numerous eateries in Moretonhampstead; a hotel, three pubs and cafes, so you won't go home hungry. Learn More.


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    • Georgina_writes profile image

      Georgina_writes 8 years ago from Dartmoor

      Thank you oliversmum, glad you enjoyed a little bit of history.

    • oliversmum profile image

      oliversmum 8 years ago from australia

      georgina_writes. Hi. What an absolutely enthralling hub. The buildings are wonderful along with all the information, I love to read about our historical sites, And I guess a couple of ghosts would be O.K.. Enjoyed every word. Thank you. :) :)

    • Georgina_writes profile image

      Georgina_writes 8 years ago from Dartmoor

      We aim to please!

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 8 years ago from London, UK

      Thank you for a very interesting read. I love reading about old villages and cottages.