Deer park north and north west of Dartington Hall


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1020870

Date first listed: 06-Mar-2002

Date of most recent amendment: 06-Dec-2002


Ordnance survey map of Deer park north and north west of Dartington Hall
© Crown Copyright and database right 2018. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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This copy shows the entry on 15-Nov-2018 at 03:55:47.


The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Devon

District: South Hams (District Authority)

Parish: Dartington

National Grid Reference: SX 78702 62891, SX 79823 63133


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Reasons for Designation

Deer parks were areas of land, usually enclosed, set aside and equipped for the management and hunting of deer and other animals. They were generally located in open countryside on marginal land or adjacent to a manor house, castle or palace. They varied in size between 3ha and 1600ha and usually comprised a combination of woodland and grassland which provided a mixture of cover and grazing for deer. Parks could contain a number of features, including hunting lodges (often moated), a park-keeper's house, rabbit warrens, fishponds and enclosures for game, and were usually surrounded by a park pale, a massive fenced or hedged bank often with an internal ditch. Although a small number of parks may have been established in the Anglo-Saxon period, it was the Norman aristocracy's taste for hunting that led to the majority being constructed. The peak period for the laying-out of parks, between AD 1200 and 1350, coincided with a time of considerable prosperity amongst the nobility. From the 15th century onwards few parks were constructed and by the end of the 17th century the deer park in its original form had largely disappeared. The original number of deer parks nationally is unknown but probably exceeded 3000. Many of these survive today, although often altered to a greater or lesser degree. They were established in virtually every county in England, but are most numerous in the West Midlands and Home Counties. Deer parks were a long-lived and widespread monument type. Today they serve to illustrate an important aspect of the activities of medieval nobility and still exert a powerful influence on the pattern of the modern landscape. Where a deer park survives well and is well-documented or associated with other significant remains, its principal features are normally identified as nationally important.

Despite some damage to its pale, the deer park north and north west of Dartington Hall and its internal woodbanks retain important features relating to the development and use of this complex site. Stratified archaeological deposits are likely to survive in the ditches and beneath the banks and will be of considerable importance to the future understanding of the monument. The earthwork enclosure in Staverton Ford Plantation is a rare example of a medieval deer park lodge, whose banks, ditches and buried walls will contain information relating to its use. Medieval fishponds in Stillpool Coppice and north of the Old Postern are likely to contain stratified material relating to their former use, while the 18th century stone wall around part of the park and land reclamation works beside the river are of interest in understanding the post-medieval use of the monument.


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


This monument, which falls into two separate areas of protection, includes the enclosing earthworks of a medieval deer park located on the undulating ground between two spurs overlooking a broad curve in the River Dart to the north. In the early 14th century, a chase of about 90 acres (about 36ha) was enclosed in North Wood, being extended to the east several times to create a complex park of approximately 315 acres (about 127ha). At its greatest extent there were two wooded chases, a semi-wooded coursing park at the east end, and two open pastures. Parts of the park were disparked shortly before 1550. Earthwork enclosures in North Wood and Chacegrove Wood form the subject of separate schedulings. The enclosing earthwork or park pale varies in design, but mostly consists of a heavy earth bank measuring between 3m and 3.5m wide and up to 1.7m high, with a steep inner face, falling into an inner ditch from 2m to 4m wide and up to 1.5m deep. Occasionally, an upcast bank runs inside this, measuring 1.5m wide and up to 0.3m high. An outer ditch is sometimes present, measuring up to 3m wide and up to 0.3m deep. On the south west side of Newground Plantation, the bank is 7m wide, surviving 1m high with a flat berm 3m wide outside it, followed by an outer ditch 5m wide and up to 0.6m deep. An upcast bank outside this is 3m wide and 0.3m high. Several entrances to the park exist, but the only early ones are in the southern pale, 250m south east of Chacegrove Wood, and at the north end of Warren Lane. In Thistlepark Plantation, a strip of ground inside the pale measures 25m wide and at least 200m long. It has an inner medieval woodbank 5m wide and 1.5m high, closely followed by a post-medieval woodbank 5m wide, rising gently 0.6m and falling vertically 1m into a ditch 2m wide and 0.3m deep. This side is faced with limestone rubble. A tapering medieval fishpond at the east end of Stillpool Coppice is 75m long and 15m wide at its north end. Two phases of dams at its north end include a heavy earth bank alongside the river, 8m wide, 2m high and surviving up to 25m long. This was replaced by a clay dam 5m to its south, faced with limestone rubble, 2m wide and surviving 1.5m high. Three medieval fishponds survive on a north east to south west alignment north of the Old Postern. The upper pond is of trapezoidal shape and lies inside Newground Plantation, using the park pale as its dam. It measures 40m wide, tapering to 20m; it is 45m long and 0.5m deep. The middle pond is 35m wide, 50m long and 0.3m deep. Its dam is 3m wide and has been remodelled in the 19th century as a rustic waterfall within a garden, of horseshoe layout, 1.5m high. The lower pond is of tapering form, 75m long, 30m wide at its south end and 1.5m deep. A 19th century rustic butter well has been inserted into its west side. The dam is an earthwork 3.5m wide and 1.2m high. All three ponds are generally dry, although water collects in the upper and lower ones in the winter. In Staverton Ford Plantation, there is a circular earthwork enclosure containing a medieval hunting lodge which measures 73m across its visible earthworks. The enclosure rises 1.7m above the surrounding land and contains an earthwork of a rectangular stone building, aligned east to west and measuring 13m wide and 20m long. Its walls are from 1m to 3m wide and survive up to 0.7m high. Short lengths of wall on its south side create small additional rooms against earthworks of an ovoid stone curtain wall which measures 29m from east to west and 41m from north to south. The wall is from 2m to 3.5m thick and rises between 0.6m and 1m from the interior, falling up to 1.5m outside. An entrance 3m wide in the east side has inturns from the curtain wall 2m long, while on the north side, an entrance 2m wide has traces of a stone abutment for a timber bridge across the outer ditch. Outside the curtain wall, a sloping berm between 4m and 6m wide, falls 0.4m to the lip of an outer ditch 3m wide and 1m deep. An upcast bank is 6m wide and from 0.2m to 0.5m high. In the post-medieval period, two stone faced woodbanks 2m wide and 1m high were built up to the north and south sides of the enclosure, and limestone facing built against its south east side, forming two projecting horns, with woodland within. In 1738, Thomas Serell of Staverton was contracted to build a stone wall around the eastern park. This wall, which is Listed Grade II, is of mortared limestone rubble, 2m high and 0.4m wide was built along the outside of the medieval pale, with gates at its north east corner and west side, where a carriage drive along the river bank from Totnes, passed through it. A pedestrian gate 1.1m wide cuts the wall beside the river at the park's north east corner, while a deer leap 100m west of Warren Lane is marked by a lowering in the wall's height to 1.3m for a distance of 10m. Pedestrian stiles 0.8m wide, reached by flights of steps, cut the wall 80m west of this leap and 50m south of the river at the north east corner. Beside the River Dart east of Stillpool Coppice, a heavy earthwork bank 15m wide and from 0.5m to 1.2m high runs alongside the river. This is a flood defence bank of post-medieval date. At intervals along the river bank, limestone rubble piers project out into the river at an angle of about 30 degrees. These were used as groynes to reduce erosion and measure from 3.5m to 5m wide, up to 2m high and vary from 15m to 30m long. One of these piers, outside the scheduling, bears the date 1783. All houses, modern structures, sheds and greenhouses, garden furniture, metalled road, track and path surfaces are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath them is included.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract. It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features, considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number: 33785

Legacy System: RSM


DRO Z15/1/1 (15/6/1550), SMR, (1550)
DRO Z15/1/3 (12/10/1559), SMR, (1559)
MPP fieldwork by R Waterhouse, Waterhouse, R, (2000)
MPP fieldwork by R Waterhouse, Waterhouse, R, (2000)

End of official listing