The Dartmoor Trust and Thatch

Dartmoor Trust building hayricks at FoxworthyAbove – Building Hayricks at Foxworthy in 1890

How we met the Dartmoor Trust

We make a point of connecting with a wide range of organisations as well as individuals via the various social media platforms we use.  It was here that we came across the Dartmoor Trust.  With accounts on Facebook , Twitter  and Instagram, it is no surprise that we began to see regular posts from this charitable organisation with some lovely old pictures of thatch.  Noticing these, we were keen to find out more.

What is The Dartmoor Trust

The primary purposes of the Dartmoor Trust are to fundraise to grant aid projects that do good for Dartmoor, and to collate and curate the vast collection of local historic photographs in their archive.  The Trust welcomes volunteer archivists to add and update the information.

The Dartmoor Trust Archive

The now extensive Archive was created from two initial exhibitions put together in the year 2000; Dartmoor Century I and II.  These were made up of previously unpublished photographs from the Taylor and the Burnard Collections.  After the exhibitions, the new collections were published in two books, and made available online.  With the addition of audio and video files, this website has evolved and improved to the user-friendly experience it now is, with options to search or simply browse the collections.

The Archive not only collects and preserves old photographs, but also presents them together with recent ones to illustrate changes to Dartmoor over the years.  There are now nearly 30 thousand images preserved and available to access.

Dartmoor Trust - Forest Inn at Hexworthy
Above – The Forest Inn at Hexworthy

What the Dartmoor Trust Does

As well as the Archive, the Dartmoor Trust also provides small grants to local non-profit organisations.  Funds are granted to groups or individuals who present a project with particular benefit to Dartmoor – either its inhabitants or its environment or both.  Records are kept of all projects as far as possible, as part of the Archive.

Eligibility criteria listed on their website include, amongst others, protecting historic buildings and cultural heritage.  As such, they are helping to protect important examples of thatched buildings and structures.

Thatch at the Dartmoor Trust

The Dartmoor Trust Archive preserves countless images of thatched cottages, farm houses and out-buildings, inns, shops. and hayricks.

A search on ‘thatch’ or ‘thatched’ or ‘hayricks’ or ‘roof’ or ‘Longhouse’ or ‘hut’ identifies many images of the use of thatch on Dartmoor, which has been used since prehistoric times and is still extensively used.

Maintaining Dartmoor’s thatch traditions

It is always important that listed properties and those within conservation areas are not only properly looked after by their owners, but supported by relevant organisations and bodies, including thatchers.

What the local planners say about this….

‘Traditional building materials, such as …wheat reed thatch, … are particularly important to Dartmoor’s architectural legacy and its vernacular.  Many of these materials are locally sourced and have a unique colour and texture which cannot easily be imitated.  The value of traditional skills and building practices also forms part of Dartmoor’s cultural heritage.’ Dartmoor Local Plan 2018-2036 Final Draft September 2019.

Dartmoor Trust - old A30 in Sticklepath in 1934 - they are still thatched
Above – Thatched cottages line the old A30 in Sticklepath in 1934. They’re still thatched today!

How you can help 

Do get in touch with their team of trustees if you feel you would like to contribute financially, or with your time.  More images of thatch and thatching on Dartmoor would also be appreciated.

Moving forward 

We are pleased to promote the great work which the Dartmoor Trust does and are happy to engage with their great social media posts with thatch

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