Dartmoor Explorations

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

Princep’s Folly

This Dartmoor ‘folly’ was built for a Mr Thomas Levett Princep in 1848 and is located on and adjacent to Gidleigh Tor. Today, all that remains is a roofless octagonal ‘look-out’ tower with a pointed-arch doorway and a small window but once the folly comprised a house and possibly two towers. The house was incorporated with the rocks of the tor with today’s remaining ‘look-out’ tower located a few ten’s of metres away to the west.

William Crossing in ‘Gems in a granite setting’ (page 57) recorded that Prinsep’s (sic) Folly was once occupied by a caretaker although never by Thomas Princep himself as he died suddenly on his boat at Teignmouth before he could occupy it. Crossing learnt the history relating to the buildings from a Mr Whipham as it was his father (Rev. Arthur Whipham, rector of Gidleigh and owner of the estate), who granted a lease for 99 years for two and a half acres of land immediately adjoining the land at Gidleigh Tor to his friend Thomas Princep. Princep’s widow surrendered the lease in 1851, but prior to this the house was pulled down and the fittings and materials sold by auction.

0. Map
Princep’s (‘look-out’) Tower and Gidleigh Tor lie on private (but accessible land) and can be found to the west of the footpath which connects Gidleigh and Teigncombe through the North Teign River wooded valley (the woods are called ‘North Park’ and ‘South Park’).
1. PF
It is not clear why Princep decided to build a house and the (possible) two towers in this location and this will forever remain a mystery. Crossing stated: “But though Mr Prinsep’s choice of a site for his house may not be commend itself on us , we can scarcely regard its local name of Prinsep’s Folly as a fitting one”. Photograph courtesy of Frank Collinson from October 2013. The tower is located at SX 67101 87778
2. GT1
Gidleigh Tor was being cleared when this photograph was being taken (October 2013)
3. GT2
Gidleigh Tor close up

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