Corners

Corners

Somebody recently asked why there are so many corners marked on the Ordnance Survey map of Dartmoor and admittedly it was a fact that I had not previously given much thought to. But then I looked at my database of Dartmoor names and saw that there were over 80 entries in the ‘corner’ description and I am positive that these are but a few examples, many more being lost in time. Then having looked at the actual names it soon became evident that the first element often described an event or name which dated back in Dartmoor’s history thus giving a small snippet of moorland heritage.

The official definition of a ‘corner’ given by the Oxford English Dictionary is as follows: ‘A place or angle where two sides or edges meet’, (Soanes & Stevenson, 2003, p.386). In the majority of cases this is exactly what a Dartmoor corner is, furthermore it is normally an angle formed by a wall, where two walls meet, a road junction or a sharp bend in a road. Many of these corners form part of a newtake or enclosure wall and can often be found on the open moor. But why bother naming them and for what purpose? Nobody knows for sure but one possible answer could be for navigational purposes. Anybody who has walked on the open moor will know that it can be difficult to describe a route without the use of a map. The moormen of old never had much time for maps and relied on their local knowledge of the moor to get around. However, when trying to describe a location orally it must have been easier to use local place-names and as wall corners were numerous these made for convenient directional points. Occasionally one can find these named corners listed as boundary markers where they describe the extent of various parishes, lands and estates. As noted above, some of the corner names refer to an event which once took place near its location and others record the names of one time landowners but more of that later. Below is an example of a Dartmoor ‘corner’ which also serves as illustration of how many place-names the Ordnance Survey maps omit.

Corners

From the above example it could be assumed that at some point in time there was an enclosure for deer somewhere near the location of the wall corner. In fact this is exactly the case as at one time the wall was a corn ditch belonging to nearby Willandhead used to contain deer, (Hemery, 1983, p.752). In some cases the naming of a corner has been a recent event, for example there is a road junction on the edge of one Dartmoor village at which is a grassy area known affectionately by the locals as ‘Shit Corner’. The logic behind this is quite simple, there is a narrow lane with a steep bank leading from the village to the junction and when people take their dogs for a walk this is the first piece of level grassland the dogs encounter which makes it an ideal spot for them to have a dump, this results in numerous piles of dog mess hence the name ‘Shit Corner’. If you mention this name to any local they will immediately know where you are talking about which saves time having to say the piece of grass at the junction of such and such lane with the so and so road.

Below is a list of corners that I have found in various books, maps and documents:

Name OS Grid Ref.   Name OS Grid Ref.
       
ALLACLAUNS CORNER SX 5198 8130   L CORNER SX 7250 7833
AUSEWELL CORNER SX 7333 7264   LAWNS CORNER SX 5629 7074
BARREN CORNER SX 7125 7110   LEG O’ MUTTON CORNER SX 5177 6790
BATTEN’S CORNER SX 4745 8123   LENISDON CORNER SX 6860 6598
BATWORTHY CORNER SX 6590 8628   LONG-A-TRAW CORNER SX 6815 6468
BEARDOWN NEWTAKE CORNER SX 5922 7835   LOWER HUNTINGDON CORNER SX 6670 6650
BEATLAND CORNER SX 5482 6240   LOWER PILES CORNER SX 6420 6090
BEL TOR CORNER SX 6950 7312   LYLE’S CORNER SX 5388 8820
BLACKLAND CORNER SX 6278 5938   MATTIN’S CORNER SX 6660 6660
BLOODY CORNER SX 73?? 90??   MAY’S NEWTAKE CORNER SX 6350 7015
BRAKE CORNER SX 7020 7163   MILL CORNER SX 5920 6650
BROADMOOR CORNER SX 5360 7823   MOUNT MISERY CORNER SX 6355 7060
BUDDLA CORNER SX 5291 8164   NEW FOREST CORNER SX 5658 7640
BULLAVEN CORNER SX ???? ????   NEWBRIDGE HILL CORNER SX 7080 7118
BURROW CORNER SX 7360 7522   OUTCOMBE CORNER SX 5833 6830
CATS’ CORNER SX 5765 6672   OWLEY CORNER SX 6700 5975
CENTURY CORNER SX 6435 5922   PEAS CORNER SX 5339 8168
COUPLES CORNER SX 7452 9045   PIGS LEG CORNER SX 528? 891?
CROWN CORNER SX 6790 7544   PILES CORNER SX 6475 6214
CROWN HALL CORNER SX 6532 8529   PRESCOMBE CORNER SX 5219 8343
CUCKOO BALL CORNER SX 6595 5821   RUNDLESTONE CORNER SX 5760 7497
DALE’S BRAKE CORNER SX 6901 7441   SENTRY CORNER SX 6469 9180
DAW’S CORNER SX 5629 7074   SHEEPFOLD CORNER SX 6230 7090
DEADMAN’S CORNER SX 7055 7046   SKAIGH CORNER SX 6338 9334
DEER PARK CORNER SX 6772 8407   SOUTER’S CORNER SX 5721 9182
ENDSWORTHY CORNER SX 6620 8980   STANNON NEWTAKE CORNER SX 6470 8130
FRENCHANGERS CORNER SX 7393 7796   STOUTER’S CORNER SX 5721 9182
FULLAMOOR CORNER SX 5158 7200   STUMBLE CORNER SX 6948 7268
GIPSY CORNER SX 7917 7884   STUMLEY CORNER SX 6948 7268
GLASCOMBE CORNER SX 6626 6097   SUNNY CORNER SX 6091 6990
HALIFAX CORNER SX 5550 7510   THORNWORTHY CORNER SX 6612 8541
HALSTOCK CORNER SX 6038 9255   THREE CORNERS SX 7991 7890
HARTOR CORNER SX 6020 9194   TORDOWN CORNER SX 5240 7528
HATCHWELL CORNER SX 7051 7760   VELLAKE CORNER SX 5560 9037
HEATHERCOMBE CORNER SX 7245 7184   VIDLIN’S CORNER SX 5482 6240
HIGH HOUSE CORNER SX 6051 6295   VIGER’S CORNER SX 6799 6470
HIGHER HECKLAKE CORNER SX 5360 7345   VINNEY CORNER SX 5758 7059
HIGHER HUNTINGDON CORNER SX 6645 6802   WARREN CORNER SX 5135 7336
HONEYPOOL CORNER SX 6587 8965   WATER OAK CORNER SX 6860 6598
HUNTINGDON CORNER SX 6645 6615   WESTERN CORNER SX 6425 7460
HUXTON CORNER SX 5498 6298   WHITEHILL CORNER SX 5790 6185
KELLY’S CORNER SX 6038 9255   WHORTAPARKE CORNER SX 690? 709?
KINGSHEAD CORNER SX 7095 7695   WILDBANKS CORNER SX 6192 8041
KLONDYKE CORNER SX 5940 9398   WOOD CORNER SX 7835 9142
KNOCKING MILL CORNER SX ???? ????   WOODMAN’S CORNER SX 5275 6845
       
LANDSCAPE FEATURE NAME     PERSONAL NAME  
MISCELLANEOUS NAME     UNKNOWN NAME  
ENCLOSURE NAME     LOCATION NAME  

As can be seen from the above list many of the corner names refer to personal names or nearby landmarks such as farms, enclosures or landscape features, however there are a few which have an interesting story to tell. For instance, Bloody Corner is so called because an horrific murder took place at a cottage near to the spot. Brake Corner is on the one-time private road known as Dr. Blackall’s Drive and is at a point just before a sharp bend in the track, it is here that any horse and carriage using the road would need to slow down the team in order to negotiate the bend. Century Corner can be found on the edge of Harford Moor and derives its name from the word Sanctuary which indicates church land. Deadman’s Corner can be found near Holne and refers to a spot where an enclosure wall forms an acute angle. Presumably at some point in time a corpse was found near here? Gypsy Corner is located to the west of Bovey Tracey and is a road junction where at one time gipsies would camp. Klondyke Corner is a sharp bend in the road that leads up to Okehampton Camp and takes its name from the nearby house called Klondyke so sadly no gold will be found here. Mount Misery Corner denotes a corner of a wall which encloses a newtake known as Mount Misery. Peas Corner can be found near Willsworthy and is so named because a cart load of peas was once upended there. Mattins Corner is an alternative name for the small ruin once used by Keble Martin as a chapel whilst camping on the moor. Sunny Corner can be found just below the Devonport Leat near Nun’s Cross Farm and is a wall corner of Fox Tor newtake. Presumably the name refers to the favourable aspect of the location when the sun is shining? Several corners take their names from the shape the angle of the road or wall describes, these include L Corner, Leg O’ Mutton Corner and Pig’s Leg Corner. As previously mentioned, many of the corner names refer to a structure that once stood nearby, these include; Burrow Corner, Knocking Mill Corner, Mill Corner, Sheepfold Corner and Warren Corner. On a final note, I will leave the explanation of Couples Corner to your imagination?

Reference.

Crossing, W. 1993. Crossing’s Guide to Dartmoor. Newton Abbot: Peninsula Press

Hemery, E. 1983. High Dartmoor. London: Hale Publishing.

Soanes, C & Stevenson, A (eds.) 2003. Oxford Dictionary of English. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

 

About Tim Sandles

Tim Sandles is the founder of Legendary Dartmoor

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