Dartmoor Explorations

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

Twist (Twyste or Twyst) Farm

The farmstead of ‘Twist’ (also known as ‘Twyste’ or ‘Twyst’) is one of two farms mentioned in the Domesday Book for the manor of Cudlipptown (the other being Manor farm) as recorded in the “Book of Peter Tavy with Cudlipptown – Two coats colder than Tavistock. Furthermore, the inhabitants of the farm had venville rights which (for a small annual payment, which was 5d. per year in 1532), allowed them to pasture sheep and cattle on the moor after sunset. They were also allowed to take what they needed for their own use from the moor such as turf and peat for fires and stone for hedging and building. They were not allowed to take green oak or venison.

The farm was deserted in the 20th century and now derelict. There is a sale catalogue for the farm dated 1934 in The Box (Plymouth), ref. 1096/434. From ‘The Place-names of Devon’ published by the English Place-name Society, p232: Twist is called Twyst c1502. It is suggested that the farm name may be originate from the ordinary word ‘Twist’ as there is a sharp bend in the lane here.

Twist Map
Map showing the location of Twist Farm, which can be visited by taking the footpath through the gate to the east of Boulters Tor. This post contains a pictorial record of the features shown.
Twist 1
Next to the gate to Twist Farm is a row of stones together the pile of stones. It is believed these stones were collected by a couple hoping to build a free holding on the moor. At that time, if you could build a cottage in a day and light a fire within it you could live there permanently. The couple were discovered and prevented from finishing.
Twist 2
Just a few metres inside the gate on the left (west) are Twist Rocks. They are located at SX52624 78132.
Twist 3
Approaching the farm through the triangular enclosure.
Twist 4
First glimpse of the inside of the farmhouse seen through the front porch
Twist 5
This room looks like it was the main living area complete with fireplace. In the 1841 census the Geake family are recorded as living at the farm. The family comprised George (30), Grace (41), Jane (9), Walter (7), Mary (5) and George (2). George (senior) is recorded as being an Ag Lab (presumably meaning Agricultural Labourer).
Twist 6
Close up of the main fireplace.
Twist 7
Between the main living space and the front porch is a room which looks like it was the kitchen which still has a small range. In the 1851 census the Geake family still lived at the farm. The family were George (40), Grace (52), George (12) John (9). In this census it states that George senior was born at Wapsworthy, Grace at Peter Tavy and the two children at Tavistock. There is no mention of Jane, Walter, Mary who would have been 19, 17 and 15 respectively (given their ages from the 1841 census).
Twist 8
Across from the kitchen (adjacent to the kitchen) is a third room, with what looks like an old appliance. By the 1871 census the occupants of the farm were the Maddock family being Grace (58), son Thomas (12) and grandson James (8). Surprising to find only 4 years between son and grandson. Grace was recorded as being born in Peter Tavy, and the two youngsters as having been born in Tavistock. Intriguingly, the census has states in comments alongside Grace that “Husband works as Farm Labourer at Sampford Spiney and returns home monthly”. This last fact about the husband makes fascinating reading when looking at the 1891 census, details of which are contained later in this post.
Twist 9
Chimney (left) and a 4th room (right)
Twist 10
4th room at the farm. There were also what appears to have been at least two rooms upstairs.
Twist 11
Inside barn or cattle shed
Twist 12
The (probable) barn / cattle shed has a corrugated sloping roof construction and is attached to the end of the main building and can be found at SX52758 78206
Twist 13
Barn / cattle shed and main farmhouse as viewed end on.
Twist 14
The Barn / cattle shed and main farmhouse as viewed end on from nearby gate. By the 1891 census, the occupiers were still the (or at least another) Maddock family being William (22) and Bessie (22). William is recorded as being an Ag Lab born at Sampford Spiney with Bessie being born in Cullompton. William would have been around 2 at the 1871 census at the same time Grace Maddock’s husband was working at Sampford Spiney (returning home once per month). This begs the question, was William the son of Grace’s husband ? It seems too coincidental that William did not have some kind of connection with Grace’s husband.
Twist 15
The wall on the left of this picture can be found at SX52764 78219. It is just a few metres from the main farmhouse and looks like it may have been part of a Linhay/
Twist 16
The “Linhay” wall is approx 2.5m high.
Twist 17
At the eastern end of the “Linhay” wall is what looks like a rectangular opening – was this for loading ?
Twist 18
The “Linhay” wall with rectangular opening
Twist 19
A probable outside W.C can be located at SX52754 78196
Twist 20
Location of W.C in relation to the barn / cattle shed and the main building. Note the height of the window openings in the main building which suggests there were at least two rooms upstairs (assuming one window per room). By the 1911 census it states the occupants of the farm were the Harvie family. William (31) was stated as farmer, born in Peter Tavy and Emma (42) being born in Tavistock.
Twist 21
Another view of the “Linhay” walls with support posts looking towards White Tor in the distance.
Twist 22
Abandoned engine (from a tractor?) just a few metres from the farmhouse front porch and the “Linhay” wall.
Twist 23
Abandoned bath near the old engine
Twist 24
Old axle at SX52745 78225. The old bath can just be seen on the left in this picture.
Twist 25
Close up of the old axle.
Twist 26
Lovely view of Brent Tor from Twist Farm
Twist 27
More old farm machinery can be found to the west of the farmhouse, which can be also seen in this picture.
Twist 28
Old spoked wheel looks like late 19th or early 20th century.
Twist 29
More farm detritus
Twist 30
This old piece of farm machinery can be found at SX52726 78220. This piece is probably mid/to late 19th century.
Twist 31
On closer inspection there is a name plate showing Adriance, Platt & Co, Poughkeepsie, New York. Using the name plate and the overall shape of the machinery with a bit of research suggests that this is a “Buckeye” mower and dates it from between 1858 and the early 20th century.
Twist 32
This old advertising picture is from 19th century and shows a Buckeye mower on the road with the cutter bar folded. The drawing is a mower speeding down a dirt road behind two spirited horses and was a popular catalogue illustration of the era. However, if one cast iron mower wheel hit a rock in the road, it was “goodbye wheel” and the end of mowing until the wheel was repaired or replaced.
Twist 33
Close up of the “Buckeye” mower.
Twist 34
Adriance (of Adriance and Platt) bought patent rights for the mower (initially called the Aultman mower) and began to build the new mower, which he said was called the “Buckeye” due to its Ohio origins.

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1 Comment

  1. OHG March 21, 2022

    Thank you, this is very interesting! I’m a great, great, great grandson of Walter Geake.

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