Dartmoor Explorations

A collection of walks, discoveries, insights and pictures of exploring Dartmoor National Park

COCKS LAKE FARM – THE SCHOOL HOUSE

This post is inspired by the section in the F.H. (Harry) Starkey book “Dartmoor – Then and Now” on Dartmoor Schools. The author was intrigued to read about a largely unforgotten farm called Coxlake, Cox-Lake or Cocks Lake which is known locally as the “School House”. The ruins of the farm are now part of Sherberton Farm and was, in 1786, a newtake of just over 28 acres with a house. By 1839 the house was in ruins although the holding was still intact. Starkey reveals to the reader that the main building has been partially rebuilt, which so it is said to be the former school. Additional information for the post has been obtained from the Dartmoor HER (ref: MDV6415) and the book “Old Dartmoor Schools Remembered” by Mary Stanbrook.

Cocks Lake Farm Map
The farm is not named on any OS map, the author could find but the wall and building outlines are shown. The farm is located to the North West of Huccaby Tor and there are a few paths through the heather and gorse which take the explorer to the east walling of the farmstead, beyond which access is not possible as access is prevented by barbed wire. The author is planning to make a return visit to see if there is access via the south as according to the modern OS Map, the ruins are on public access land.
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The ruins are centred at approx. SX6539 7422. The picture shows the general location of the ruin and was taken from the north. Hexworthy and Down Ridge can be seen in the background.
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From the Dartmoor HER, R.G.Haynes visited the site in November 1966 and described the ruins as “A longhouse with five rooms and a small modern house added. Windows, doors visible on north and south. Unusual fireplace of dry stone construction and overgrown by vegetation”. Unfortunately, access to the site wasn’t possible by the author and only a few fleeting glimpses of walling could be seen through the wall of fir trees.
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The Dartmoor HER describes : “The modern ‘house’ or lean-to has been added to the south side and the walling is circa 1.4 metres high”. This seems to describe the picture taken by Starkey (above)
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A fleeting glimpse of low ruinous walls at the farmstead from April 2021, taken over the barbed wire fence.
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In the Mary Stanbrook publication, ‘The School House’ or ‘The School Teachers House’, it is unclear when it was used. It is suggested, however, that it may have been one of the dame schools supported by the Widecombe and Dartmoor Charity. It is thought that Cocks Lake served as a school for the local community until it was replace as such by St Raphael’s, Huccaby. There were around 30 children in the Dunnabridge area at the time.
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More fleeting glimpses of low ruinous walls at the farmstead from April 2021, taken this time low down and through the barbed wire fence.
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