Dartmoor Explorations

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

Lettaford Hamlet

The small hamlet of Lettaford lies within the parish of North Bovey with the Mariner’s Way bisecting it. This old trackway ran from Bideford to Dartmouth and it is said the route was used by sailors who would be changing ships between the two ports, a journey of some 70 miles. In the Assize Rolls of 1244 the name Lottreford appears. The Dartmoor HER records the origins of the hamlet circa 1450-1550 with three longhouses, each with its own yard(s) and ranges of farm buildings. The three farmsteads are: Higher Lettaford in the south, Southmeads to the north and Sanders to the north-east. Over the centuries the name Lottreford has mutated into LitterfordLiddaford until arriving at today’s Lettaford. As well as the three farmsteads the hamlet also has a Bible Christians Chapel (former school).

The 1873-1888 map shows the hamlet being named as Liddaford. The three longhouses around which the farmsteads of Higher Lettaford, Southmeads and Sanders are annotated above as is the school (Bible Christian Chapel) and the Mariner’s Way.
The (approx.) borders of the three farmsteads of Higher Lettaford, Southmeads and Sanders are annotated above as is the chapel school
Lettaford 1
Lettaford is a beautiful, one might say ‘picture perfect’ hamlet. The above picture shows Sanders Farmstead Longhouse (now owned by Landmark Trust and rented out as a holiday let). Also in the picture on the left, partially obscured by the tree is Southmeads Farmstead Longhouse and the Pig Houses.
Lettaford 2
Another view of the Sanders Farmstead Longhouse. Also in the picture, the gable end of the old Linhay can just be seen. The Longhouse is recorded as being early 16th century with mid 16th and 17th century modifications. The walls partly granite ashlar, partly granite rubble. The Landmark Trust renovated the Longhouse in 1977. The Linhay is recorded as having been built in the late 18th or early 19th century.
Lettaford 3
The picture is of the old School / Bible Christian Chapel. Mary Stanbrook in her book “Old Dartmoor Schools Remembered” (page55) states the school was run for the benefit of farmers and miners children. There were two ladies called Miss Splatt, one owned the building, the other was the teacher (one can only assume they were related). In 1860, when the ladies retired, it was donated to the Bible Christians as a Chapel. This building is also owned by the Landmark Trust and rented out as a holiday let.
Lettaford 4
Gable end of the School / Bible Christians Chapel. To the left of the picture is a tiny stream. Schooling continued there until 1872, under the guidance of a Mrs Susan Walling, when the pupils were transferred to North Bovey school. It later became a Methodist Chapel when they amalgamated with the Bible Christians in 1907. The author SX70203 84015.
Lettaford 5
The Shippon of Higher Lettaford is recorded by Dartmoor HER as being constructed of granite moorstone with larger blocks for the quoins and openings. The corrugated roof would have originally been thatched. It is believed that the Shippon dates from the second half of the 19th century.
Lettaford 6
This picture was taken from between the old School and the Shippon and shows the end of the Longhouse and the stable at Southmeads as well as the Longhouse at Sanders Farmstead. The Southmeads Longhouse is of 16th century origin with later alterations and additions and was divided into two dwellings in the 20th century. The Stable (and attached cart shed) were built in the late 18th or early 19th century.
Lettaford 7
Another view of the two Longhouses at Sanders and Southmeads. Also in the picture is the Barn at Sanders which was built in the 16th century then rebuilt in the 18th century. The pig houses at Southmeads comprise four separate houses in the row each with separate access. They are said to be early 19th century.
Lettaford 8
In recent times the Mariner’s Way footpath route has changed. The new route offers the explorer a better view of Higher Lettaford Farmstead from the west. The Farmhouse / Longhouse include the remains of the hall and inner chamber of a medieval longhouse dating from circa 1450-1550; The Dartmoor HER records the eastern end of the longhouse, the cross passage and service end/cattle byre were demolished in the second half of the 19th century and replaced by a typical Victorian two storey villa with a verandah along the front. The Threshing Barn and Shippon Stock Building are late 18th / early 19th century.
Lettaford 9
The Mariner’s Way footpath extending around Higher Lettaford has been well manicured and as such is an easy to follow route for any walker.
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