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Dartmoor Characters

Quaker Palk

There is an ancient Dartmoor saying which is meant to act as a warning to anyone who exploits it’s natural resources – “if you scratch my back I’ll tear out your pockets.” There also appears in Psalms 37 -“Trust in the lord and he will give you the desires of …

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Aeronautical Lady

The Aeronautical Lady of Scobitor – Winifred Penn-Gaskell was the daughter of Peter Penn-Gaskell J.P from Shanagarry in County Cork and was born on the 12th November 1874, She arrived at Scobitor sometime prior to 1930 and clearly was a woman of strong character. Scobitor is a fairly remote place in …

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Never happen to a vicar

It Should Never Happen to a Vicar – Gidleigh is a quiet picturesque village on the eastern side of the north moor and is noted for its ancient castle and church. As with many things “every rose has its thorn,” and in the case of Gidleigh it was the Reverend …

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James Thorpe

Dean Prior is a tiny hamlet that literally hugs the boundary of the Dartmoor National Park so closely that it cruelly separates its church from its flock. Today many people associate Dean Prior as being the one-time home of the prolific Dartmoor poet Robert Herrick but there was also one …

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Bray’s Eight Days

In the December of 1881 John Bray from Chudleigh, then aged 59, was arrested and charged with stealing  some horse hair along with other items from an outhouse at Bickington.  That same month he appeared at Ashburton Assizes charged charged with the offences and was  committed for trial at the …

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The Lag and the Gypsies

It is reputed that Charles Ross was one a the very few Dartmoor prisoners who ever managed to escape and get completely away from penal servitude at the prison. In the mid 1800s Charles Ross, a landowner, was sentenced to serve seven years in Dartmoor Prison for robbery with violence. …

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Perrott’s Obituary


Over the centuries Dartmoor has seen many characters come and go and one such was James Perrott of Chagford. It can be said that a man’s legacy can be seen from his obituary and as you will read to below there can be no question that James Perrott left a …

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Henhouse Capture

Let me take you back to Princetown on the morning of Tuesday the 4th of June 1907. It’s ten o’clock and Princetown is suddenly engulfed in a shroud of thick Dartmoor fog – nothing new there then. Through this opaque wall of mist can be heard the sound of horse’s …

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The Dartmoor Cowboy

What comes to mind when the word ‘Range’ is mentioned on Dartmoor? The chances are that images of red flags, military activities, firing notices and warning signs are likely candidates. But what about cowboys riding through such places as Deadman’s Bottom or Sniper’s Gully as they round up their steers …

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Two Ducks


  At the weekend I attended an emergency services open day and was interested to see all the support teams and equipment the police had. There were rapid response teams, dog handlers, traffic investigators, mounted police to name but a few. Their equipment included drones, dogs horses, guns, fast cars …

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