Dartmoor Explorations

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


Steve Grigg

This post was inspired by three articles in the Dartmoor Magazine from Autumn 1986 (written by Barbara Stevens), and Summer 1990 / Autumn 1990 (the latter two written by Mavis Price), which detailed the lives of two Dartmoor “Old ladies of the moor”, Mary Jane Williams (aka Aunt Polly or Granny Williams) and her mother Jane Easterbrook. They lived for large portions of their lives at Wheal Lucky Cottage. The cottage is now a ruin and was at one time known as West Wheal Lucky. It comprised of only two small rooms.

WLC Map 1
Location of Wheal Lucky Cottage, the home of Jane Easterbrook and Mary Jane Williams – This post also has a couple of pictures of the Adit (part of the Wheal Lucky complex)
WLC Map 2
Google Map of the location of Wheal Lucky. From the aerial view, the ground workings are quite pronounced. Wheal Lucky Mine was operational between 1797 and 1871.
WLC Map 3
Wheal Lucky Cottage has previously been known as West Wheal Lucky, it was mentioned as such in the tithe apportionment in 1844.
The first article (Autumn 1986) on Wheal Lucky Cottage was written by Barbara Stevens. The above picture, circa 1986, shows Barbara and her brother in the ruins of the cottage. East Wheal Lucky is the white building on the right. Great Mis Tor looms large in the distance. The article by Barbara Stevens was a lovely childhood recollection of “Granny Williams” (Mary Jane). Barbara lived in Princetown.
The sad 2020 picture of Wheal Lucky Cottage from the same location (more or less) as the 1986 picture with Barbara Stevens.
A superimposed picture of the cottage entrance. Picture is likely to be from the early 20th century. Note the stones on the roof, weighing it down.
The Two “Old Ladies of the Moor”. The articles written in 1990 (Summer / Autumn), were penned by Mavis Price, who was the Great Grand-Daughter of Mary Jane Williams and the Great Great Grand-Daughter of Jane Easterbrook. The dates and information in this post were provided by Mavis Price in her two articles.
Jane Easterbrook (nee Hext / Hicks) was christened in January 1822, was married in February 1844 and died in March 1915, aged 94. She lived part of her life at Red Cottages (on Yellowmead Farm track, which were built for Foggintor workers) and is believed to have lived at Wheal Lucky from at least 1871 until her death. Her parents (Thomas and Rachel) lived at Wheal Lucky (East).
“Granny Williams”, as Barbara Stevens knew her by, was also known locally as Aunt Polly. She was born in August 1846, was married in April 1866 and died in February 1915, aged 81. She is said to have lived at Wheal Lucky Cottage for 52 years.
Wheal Lucky Cottage, most likely from early 20th Century
I have tried to reconcile the previous picture with the 2020 view. Is this the same view? One thing I am struggling with is that in the previous picture the buildings appear to be at 90 degrees to each other.
Another picture from 2020
WLC 10
The cottage was rather small and is at SX57147 74849. This GR was checked on side by side as well as a site record.
WLC 11
……now onto the Adit from the Wheal Lucky area (north of B3357). Hollow Tor in the background.
WLC 12
Close up of the Adit
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