Dartmoor Explorations

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


Inspired by two Dartmoor Magazine articles (Autumn 1988, school in the middle of nowhere by Barbara Stevens and Spring 1989, memories of life at Foggintor school house by Ivan Stoyle), I realised that in spite having parked here on dozens and dozens of occasions I didn’t really know much history about the school or its exact and precise location. With a bit of further research from “old schools remembered” by Mary Stanbrook and an old map from side-by-side I ventured out in the rain to confirm my findings.

My thanks to Kate Tobin, Caroline Easton, Martyn Smith and Nigel Machin for supplying many of the photographs in this post and to Dennis Martin for providing the link to the Tavistock Times Gazette below:


FW 1
This is the wonderful Ivan Stoyle sketch of the school taken from the Dartmoor Magazine. Ivan’s father was the headmaster at the school when it opened in 1915. The school was on land donated by Sir Henry Lopes. What caught my eye about this sketch was how wonderfully drawn it was, but it didn’t look to scale (e.g The two playgrounds were very different in size).
FW 2
My next steps was to look at an old map and Google earth. This does show a more even proportions than Ivan’s sketch. The map is post 1936, as that is when the school closed. The name “Four winds” was the newly acquired private dwelling, which used to be the school house. The name has stuck to this day as the car park is known as Four Winds Car Park
FW 3
The beauty of going out on a very rainy day was no cars in the car park. This is the Girls playground, with centre at SX56066 74888
FW 4
……and the boys playground. Again no cars due to the rain. SX56049 74883
FW 5
There is very little evidence of where the school actually was located but at the west end of the plot just north of the boys playground there is evidence of a wall.
FW 6
Using photographs from the old schools remembered book, the old map and Ivan’s sketch, this is my interpretation of the site.
FW 7
The side entrance to the old school house where Ivan would have lived with his school master father.
FW 8
Front of the old school, which looks very symmetrical. This view is more or less taken from the modern B3357 road. The school opened on 19th April 1915 and there were 55 children.
FW 9
Leaving the back of the boys playground into the grounds of the school house
FW 10
On a west wall, close to where the old school house was is what looks like a sheep creep. SX56052 74873
FW 11
Location of where the old school house / four winds was. No foundations now evident unfortunately. You can see the steps coming down from the boys playground.
FW 12
Exit point onto the open Moor from the garden of the old school house / four winds

FW 13
The fir tree in the garden of the old school house / four winds. Ivan Stoyle planted this tree in 1924 after it had served its purpose as the schools christmas tree.

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The tree serving its original purpose Christmas 1924. There are suggestions that the tree was either a present from Dartmoor Prison or a present from the quarry workers.
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The tree at SX56053 74863
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This is the back of the old school house, probably taken from approx location of the fir tree. The school can be seen on the right. The caption is ‘The headmaster, Mr Stoyle, his wife and their son Ivan pose for the photographer at the rear of the Headmaster’s House’
FW 17
The school play field. No exit onto the open Moor today. SX56070 74867
FW 18
View of the back of the school, most likely taken from near the top of the play field.
FW 19
Steps from the play field back into the girls playground.
FW 20
The school was demolished in 1964 and the house in 1965. Some of the stone was used for the road straightening at Devils Bridge. This picture from a local newspaper is of the house being demolished. Apparently the demolition was carried out by using the labour of ten boys from an approved school.
FW 21
The wireless lesson in 1932
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Gramophone lesson
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Lovely photograph from 1925
FW 24
Foggintor school 1936. Photograph from Caroline Easton showing her dad, Gerald Green is front right and my uncle, Eric Green is middle row left.
FW 25
Students from 1923-4
FW 26
This and other photographs kindly supplied by Caroline Easton, via Facebook
FW 27
Some of the school children playing in the leat just outside the southern boundary of the school circa 1934
FW 28
Foggintor school sports, circa 1926
FW 29
Sewing lessons about 1931
FW 30
Gardening – date unknown
FW 31
Lots of vegetables were grown in spite of the location and conditions.

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  1. Stephen Fryer September 4, 2020

    Fantastic bit of research! Well done. Learnt more about the school than I knew before and so good to see some photos.

  2. Bernard F Carter December 15, 2021

    What a wonderful piece of visual nostalgia! I am in the process of producing a collection of highly detailed pen and ink drawings mainly of ancient and/or famous trees in the UK for a forthcoming book. I am familiar with the fir tree at the school and although it is of no great age, at least in the world of trees I feel it would be the ideal subject on which to finish the book as it has such a poignant and unusual tale attached to it. Very much enjoyed your photographs.

    • Kate Tobin April 2, 2022

      Hi Bernard, great to read your comment and that you would like to use my Grandad’s tree in your book. By coincidence, I have always worked with trees and nature and I ran the “Great Trees of East Devon” project 15 years ago which highlighted stories of ancient and heritage trees. So if it’s not too late, I’d love to talk to you about your book and this story – and can give you access to one or two original photos. If you would like that, perhaps you can ask Steve to put us in touch offline so emails aren’t shared publicly?

  3. Tavistock Taxis March 24, 2022

    This is fascinating Steve. I am currently sat in this carpark! tavistocktaxis.co.uk

  4. Kate Tobin April 2, 2022

    Hi Steve, lovely to see all this brought together. Glad the photos and stories have been useful. I have the originals of many of these photos. I think your uncle and my Grandad would have been pleased that Foggintor School hasn’t been forgotten and the stories continue to be told.

    • Trevor Church April 3, 2023

      Hi Kate and Steve, I’ve been looking into Foggintor school as, from Ancestry, I found out that Fred Stoyle’s wife, Fanny (ne Ellacombe), is my great grand aunt (my Mum’s great aunt).
      My Mum is in her mid eighties now. We are planning a visit to this site in the summer as she is excited to learn more about this and to see the site. So you guys must be relatives of ours too! Any further info would be fab to hear about…

  5. Malcolm Ross July 12, 2022

    What memories revived! In the mid 1960s I was a reporter on the Tavistock Times. My family lived in Buckfastleigh and I regularly passed the school. It must have been in its last days but I always thought it had a surprisingly modern look.

    Not far away across the road was a former chapel giving way gracefully to the woodworm. I wrote a piece on the lady (Mrs Jean Hext?) living in the associated cottage. No doubt this is another building that has fallen foul of time and the Dartmoor weather.

    • SteveGrigg1961 July 12, 2022 — Post author

      Dear Malcolm,

      Thank you for your comments. You may wish to also view the “Then and Now” section of this website, which contains a post on the Dartmoor Mission Hall and the Foggintor Quarry School (Wesleyan Chapel).

      Kind Regards,

      Dartmoor Explorations

  6. Caroline Easton March 4, 2023

    Great article and photos. Thanks Steve.

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