A collection of walks, discoveries, insights and pictures of exploring Dartmoor National Park
October 28, 2022
The Enigmatic Folly – Scobitor
The folly at Scobitor, sometimes called the ’round house’, is located on private land approx 115m south west of the farm which lies within the parish of Widecombe and overlooks the East Webburn valley. Over the years the folly has created a lot of confusion and contradiction and whose use has variously been recorded as being: a look-out (for a farmer and also the home guard), a belvedere, a beacon, an ash house, a shooting hide, an artist’s gallery and a fire tower. The date of its construction is also shrouded in mystery with it variously having been recorded as being in the 19th century (around 1868) by a gentleman farmer to early 20th century.
Scobitor was first mentioned in the domesday book in 1086 as Scabatora. However, the name appears to have had several name changes since then. It was recorded as ‘Scobetorre’ in 1200, ‘Scobbetorre’ in 1219 and ‘Skobbetorre’ in 1452. Gover, Mawer and Stenton in 1931 (The Place-Names of Devon)suggested that the name probably means ‘sceobba’s torr’. Scobitor originally belonged to the monks of Torre abbey until the dissolution having been given to them by the de Bokeland family of Buckland. Scobitor was owned by the Dunning family from 1769 and by 1844 was in possession of Margaret Baring. It was sold again in 1867. Did Margaret Baring or the new owners from 1867 build the folly ?
This post explores the various stories behind the possible uses of the folly over the years and its possible origins of construction. The information obtained for this post has been obtained from the Dartmoor Historic Environment Record (HER) and from ‘Dartmoor Follies’ by Philip Knowling. The folly is best viewed from Pudsham Down and this post also records some features of interest across the Down en-route from Cold East Cross where there is ample parking.