Aah, at last the sun has got his hat on 🙂 About jolly well time too! There are many historical sites surrounding Dartmoor, that although are not strictly speaking part of Dartmoor proper have nonetheless contributed immeasurably to it’s wealth in both material and cultural terms.

Lyford is one such place. Dating back into Anglo Saxon times the historical record puts its first foundation as early as the 5th C with huge rampart mounds still standing defining the towns boundary. Later with Alfred the Great; himself then King of Wessex establishing a Royal mint within the town. It was well established certainly in 997 AD when it fought off a Danish force who went on to attack Tavistock Abbey.

The site is listed in the Domesday book as being as numerously populated within the Burgh fortified walls as without. In the Medieval period the town became enclosed with a stone boundary wall with entry and exit gates, arched in Gothic style. Remains of these walls can be seen if one is observant, for instance one such monolith stands in a secret Garden, straight out of a Pre-Raphaelite painting.

Gate in a Secret Garden

The seductively charming Castle Inn in the Village is a wonderful example of a Country Coaching In that has survived change and upheaval well since its rumoured foundation in 1268. Arrayed with a wealth of genuine and timely collected local artefacts to interest all, there are many curios to ponder and so much to the point that one wonders if they have stepped into a Museum.

Castle Inn, Lydford.

The Pub has a timeless rural charm at either Sunrise or Sunset

The curious local custom of ‘Penny Ramming’ or pushing a coin in a crack in a wooden beam can be seen if one pays attention. I could see the edges of Sixpences, Old Penny’s, Farthings, Half Crowns, in addition to a few modern coins. The tradition goes, if you push a coin in and say the Lords prayer, you can have a wish granted, how charming.

Castle Inn Lydford

The Pub is quite lively with what is sadly less common these days; local people, in such a small village the Pub is still the Anglo Saxon Alehouse of Olde, serving the local community well as it has done for nigh on 800 years. There is a plentiful beer garden, the Ale is superbly kept by a working family who also cook up the most sumptuous traditional and popular wholesome food, all with local produce and astonishingly affordable. For those who are not so wealthy the homemade pickled eggs are mightily filling.

Lydford Castle

The Castle itself has a mixed history with Archaeological excavations just last month. It has been vaunted as Manor House of Barons. Jailhouse of the Moors, it still stands as a monument to the past history of the pre industrialized landscape. The scale of such a building that not only stands over 50 ft high on a 20 ft mound and is surrounded by a rampart of defences that would in my 20 year Civil Engineering experience be a major task and take many months to complete even with the labour-less machinery of today.

Lydford Castle

Of course the works were completed over many years and centuries possibly between phases, but undeniably all work under back breaking toil of local craftsmen and a strength inestimable by the majority of modern folk.

The Village Church is a true gem of vernacular Architecture, the earliest reference dating back to 1261 and much rebuilt in the 15th C. It is a Church that like many around these parts, seems beyond analysis, it almost ‘feels’ right from within and without. The perfect light and angle of such a fine building is indeed a rare thing, it would be churlish to pass by without capturing an image of such serenity.

St Petroc’s Lydford
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