A collection of walks, discoveries, insights and pictures of exploring Dartmoor National Park
December 12, 2021
Ditsworthy was recorded as a warren dating back to 1676, when Sir Nicholas Slanning leased the holding to Edward Meade who was described as a ‘Warrener’. The land was held by Meade until 1719 when it transferred to William Nicholls (who also held Legis Tor Warren). The warren was then handed onto his son John Nicholls in 1780. There was a break between 1782 and 1800 of the Nicholls family as tenants, but they continued between 1800 until 1830, when the land passed to Nicholas Ware who leased the holding. Warrening came to an end in 1947 when the Ware family finally closed down the warren in upon the death of Percy Ware.
Ditsworthy Warren was approx 220 acres (according to the Tithe Map 1844). Its boundary is defined on the Dartmoor HER as “on the south by the Plym; on the west by a long wall from the Legis Tor Warren boundary to Sheepstor Brook at Burrcombe Gate. The eastern boundary down to the Plym is problematical but is believed Sheepstor Brook upstream for a little distance then east to the ridge of Eastern Tor then following a line of unmarked boundary stones to Drizzlecombe Brook and the Plym”. According to the Devon and Dartmoor Historic Environment Register (HER), in its heyday Ditsworthy was the largest warren in Britain.
Apart from the warren house enclosure, there are numerous features around the warren itself including over 50 buries (pillow mounds) and fourteen Vermin Traps (recorded by R.G Haynes with some being shown in this post). There is evidence everywhere that the warreners dug ditches to drain and keep dry hill slopes and bury areas. Further reading of the Warren House can be found in William Crossing’s book ‘The Dartmoor Worker’.