Royals, Saudi businessmen and the other people who own Dartmoor

Despite its familiarity, many of us still don’t know who’s land we are walking across when we visit the site.

Lili Stebbings www.devonlive.com

Dartmoor is one of the most famous national parks in the UK with its vast moor land making it perfect for long country walks.

Many of us have visited, some have even camped and of course the well-known annual Ten Tors takes place on its famous hills.

But despite its familiarity, many of us still don’t know who’s land we are walking across when we visit the site.

In actual fact 47 per cent of Dartmoor has 14 owners divided into a collection of families, businesses, royals and farmers. That’s 110,619 acres of its total 235,986.

So here’s who owns it:

Duchy of Cornwall

Starting with the largest owner of land is Duchy of Cornwall covering 67.274 acres spanning from part of Brent Moor in the south to Princetown leading west past Peter Tavy and up to Okehampton.

It first came about in 1337 after being founded by Edward III who honoured it as a private estate for his son, later becoming the first Duke of Cornwall.

Despite owning other areas of land around the country, this plot is the Duchy’s largest land possession.

The name of the estate is derived from the Earldom of Cornwall. Edward elevated the Estate to a Duchy and endowed it with lands, many of which remain in the estate’s possession today.

Lord Roborough’s Maristow Estate

The second biggest landowner of Dartmoor is the Maristow Estate to the west, owned by the Barons Roborough, the Lopes family who own 6,118 acres within the NP boundary and at least 11,500 acres in total.

The Maristow Estate was first constructed in the early 19th century by Sir Manasseh Masseh Lopes, 1st baronet.

Included in the ownership of this land are the commons of Roborough Down, Walkhampton and Ditsworthy Warren, as well as woodlands near Bickleigh and parkland surrounding Maristow House.

National Trust

Canonteign Falls in the Teign Valley

The National Trust own the third biggest lot of 5,891 acres including various properties, with the largest being Hentor Warren, south Dartmoor, also woods at Holne and Teign Valley.

It also owns Dartmoor’s most beautiful river valleys and intriguing buildings, including Castle Drogo, which was the last castle to be built in England – a granite fortress come family home on a granite spur above Teign Valley.

South West Water

Land was acquired from Lord Roborough in the late 19th century by Plymouth Corporation – later becoming South West Water.

This came about after the growth of Plymouth during the 19th century which meant there was an increasing need for larger supplies of water.

During the search for a new water supply, negotiations between Plymouth Corporation, which was the municipal utility, and Lord Roborough, who owned the land were in full swing.

An agreement was eventually made and the reservoir and its surrounding catchment from Lord Roborough’s land now belongs to privatised water company South West Water.

Spitchwick Estate

Spitchwick Common (Image: Plymouth Herald)

This historic estate situated within the parish of Widecombe-in-the-Moor is owned by the Simpson family who purchased the land in 1934.

The family own 3,891 acres including the Spitchwick Commons and various woods and fields surrounding Spitchwick Manor House.

Later the family also acquired the 1,200-odd acres of Holne Chase and Holne House.

Dartmoor National Park Authority

After Dartmoor was developed into uses for those such as utilities, foresters and the military during the 20th century, two preservation charities the National Trust and, previous to it being named National Park in 1951, Dartmoor National Park Authority took over large parts of the land.

Dartmoor National Park Authority currently own 3,512 acres.

Ministry of Defence

A Royal Marines Commando during an exercise to rescue a stranded pilot during HMS Queen Elizabeth’s deployment in which F-35B Lightning jets landed on the aircraft carrier for the first time. This images was part of a winning selection for the Commandant General Royal Marines Prize won by HMS Queen Elizabeth. Picture by Leading Photographer Dan Shepherd

The Ministry of Defence own 3,343 acres of Dartmoor on freehold with their main possession being Willsworthy Range in which there is one of their two training camps.

The rest of the training area for the Royal Navy, Royal Marines, British Army, and Royal Air Force belongs to other landowners, including the Duchy of Cornwall, Maristow Estates and Southwest Water.

Forestry Commission

Bellever/Riddon Ridge on Dartmoor

Bellever/Riddon Ridge on Dartmoor

The forests are managed as part of the public forest estate which covers 3,278 acres. This stretches from Fernworthy in the north, three miles west of Chagford, through Soussons and Bellever, close to the village of Bellever, to Brimpts in the south and the Canonteign plantations.

The public forest is predominantly conifer having been planted after the First World War to address the national timber shortage by the Duchy of Cornwall.

Alexander Darwall

Stall Moor is owned by fund manager Alexander Darwall. He owns 2,784 acres of the land.

Stall Moor lies between the Yealm and Erme rivers of south Dartmoor.

Stonewood Ltd

Brent Moor is currently up for sale with Knight Frank – going at a price of £750,000. However despite being put up for sale, the 2,750 acre land is currently listed as being owned by Stonewood Ltd.

There has been said to be rumours that the moor is owned by Saudi businessman Sheikh Khalid bin Ibrahim Al Ibrahim, since the late 1980s.

But despite that, this part of the moor has been listed for sale twice before – once in 2002 for £300,000 and a second time 2011 for £600,000.

Hurrell family

Dartmoor

Ugborough Moor spanning 2,294 acres is owned by the Hurrell family. HG Hurrell was a noted Devon naturalist and acquired the moor. Henry George Hurrell was a well known naturalist and a most public spirited citizen of Plymouth and passed away on 23 May 1981.

When the Dartmoor National Park was designated in 1951 he was nominated by the Minister as one of the independent members of the Park Committee on which he served until 1972, twenty years of valuable public service.

Today, this part of the moor is still owned by his descendants.

Howell family

Harford Moor contains Piles Copse – one of the three fragments of upland oakwood on Dartmoor of which the Howell family have owned since the 1930s.

In 1867 the Duchy of Cornwall sold Harford and Higher and Lower Piles, to the Rivers family, who owned Stowford estate, which is the old manor of Harford.

Howard Howell bought both Harford Moor and Higher Piles from the MacAndrew executors in 1931, along with the Lukesland portion of the Harford estates.

The Stowford estate and the moor were bought by James MacAndrew in 1878 and Lower Piles was later sold on sometime between 1867 and 1929, and has remained in separate ownership.

After that time, the Piles farms had long been abandoned and the Higher Piles boundaries were no longer stock proof.

Both Harford Moor and Higher Piles have stayed in the family since. Brian Howell was the legal owner of the 1,978 acre land from 1966 until his death in 2003, when it passed to John Howell.

Treneer family

The Treneer family own 1,138 acres across Dean moor which was excavated between 1954 and 1956.

Russell Ashford

Russell Ashford is Chairman of the Hill Farm Project Steering Group and as well as being a land owner of 848 acres of the Buckfastleigh Moor, he is also a grazier and advocate for the industry and the vital role upland farming plays on Dartmoor.

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