H M Prison Dartmoor: Commemorative Gate to the American Prisoner of War Cemetery


Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Statutory Address:
H M Prison Dartmoor, Yelverton, Devon, PL20 6RR


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Statutory Address:
H M Prison Dartmoor, Yelverton, Devon, PL20 6RR

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

West Devon (District Authority)
Dartmoor Forest
National Park:
National Grid Reference:


A memorial gateway, presented in 1928 by the United States Daughters of 1812, in commemoration of the American prisoners of war who died at Dartmoor Prison during the Anglo-American War of 1812-1815.

Reasons for Designation

The Commemorative Gate at the American Prisoner of War Cemetery, H M Prison Dartmoor, introduced in 1928 by the US Daughters of 1812 , is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons: * Architectural interest: constructed in local granite in 1928, the gate is of good quality, and built to match the design of the main entrance gate to Dartmoor Prison; * Historic interest: added in 1928 it forms an important reminder of the Anglo-American War of 1812-5, the last military conflict between the United States and Great Britain, and the American prisoners of war who lost their lives at Dartmoor Prison, reflecting the site’s continued importance as a site of remembrance; * Group value: it forms an important group with the commemorative obelisk of 1866-8, with he adjacent French Prisoner of War Cemetery with which it was laid out as a matching pair, and with H M Prison Dartmoor.


During the Napoleonic Wars of 1809-1816 and the Anglo-American War of 1812-1815, around 1200 French and 271 American soldiers died at Dartmoor Prison where they were held as prisoners of war. They were buried unmarked in a field immediately west of the prison outside the prison walls. In the early 1860s, in response to reports that during ploughing of the field human remains regularly came to the surface, Captain Stopford, Governor of Dartmoor Prison, decided to create two burial grounds outside the prison walls, one for the French and one for American prisoners of war. The human remains were exhumed, divided into two parts and then reburied. The two burial grounds were enclosed by a stone wall and the convicts of Dartmoor Prison (by then a civic prison) made a commemorative obelisk for each cemetery.

On 30 May 1928 the National Society United States Daughters of 1812, founded in 1892, presented a Dartmoor granite memorial gate to the American cemetery, replacing an earlier rustic timber gate. Later, cast iron gates were added to the memorial gate, presented by members of the US Navy. In 2002, on the instruction of the Governor Graham Johnson, the obelisks to both the French and American cemeteries were restored. A cast iron entrance gate was added to the south side of the American prison, including seats and a flagpole. In 2012 two further marble memorials were erected behind the obelisk in the American Cemetery, inscribed with the names of the 271 American prisoners who are known to have died at Dartmoor Prison.

The American Prisoner of War Cemetery at Dartmoor Prison continues to be regularly used for commemorative ceremonies.


A memorial gateway presented in 1928 by the United States Daughters of 1812 in commemoration of the American prisoners of war who died at Dartmoor Prison during the Anglo-American War of 1812-1815.

MATERIAL: constructed of seven large dressed blocks of Dartmoor stone granite with each jamb set on a stone granite base and with three granite steps to the front. It has decorative cast iron spear-headed gates presented by members of the United States Navy in c2002.

DESCRIPTION: the gate, a copy of the main granite entrance gate to Dartmoor Prison of c1808, has a semi-hexagonal head. A decorative bronze plaque to the central keystone at the top, reads 'To the glory of God- and in loving memory of - the two hundred and eighteen - American sailors and soldiers - of the War of 1812 who died here - this memorial gateway - is erected by the - National Society United States - Daughters of 1812 - 30 May 1928'. Another plaque attached to the left hand jamb to the gateway, added in 2010, reads: 'American Cemetery- 1928 Memorial Arch - the National Society - United Stated Daughters of 1812 - addendum: it is now known there are - 271 American prisoners buried here. Placed June 5, 2010 - Charlotte Slinkard - Honorary National President - Connie Grund - Chairman National'

This List entry has been amended to add the source for War Memorials Register. This source was not used in the compilation of this List entry but is added here as a guide for further reading, 14 March 2017.


Books and journals
James, Trevor, Prisoners of War at Dartmoor: American and French Soldiers and Sailors in an English Prison during the Napoleonic Wars and the War of 1812, (2013)
Joy, Ron, Dartmoor Prison, a complete illustrated history (2 volumes), (2002), Vol 1, p 99 - Vol 2, p 43 and p 173
War Memorials Register, accessed 14 March 2017 from http://www.iwm.org.uk/memorials/item/memorial/2877
Historic England Archive Report HMP Dartmoor - Building File No. 92318


This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

End of official listing

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