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HER Number:MDV114504
Name:Dartmoor Prison: C and D Wing cell blocks


Two attached cell blocks, set on a linear north-west/south-east axis. D Wing, to the south-east, designed by Sir Edmund du Cane, was built between 1879 and 1883; C Wing, to the north, dates from shortly after 1914-15. There are late-20th century internal alterations to D Wing.


Grid Reference:SX 587 740
Map Sheet:SX57SE
Admin AreaDartmoor National Park
Civil ParishDartmoor Forest
DistrictWest Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishLYDFORD

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses: none recorded

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • CELL BLOCK (XIX to World War I - 1879 AD to 1915 AD (Between))

Full description

Brodie, A., 2015, Devon, Lydford, Princetown, HMP Dartmoor (Report - Assessment). SDV359840.

Historic England, 2016, H M Prison Dartmoor: C and D Wings (Cartographic). SDV359436.

Area of listing depicted on map.

Historic England, 2016, National Heritage List for England (National Heritage List for England). SDV359353.

Two attached cell blocks, comprising D Wing, built between 1879 and 1883 to designs by Sir Edmund du Cane, with late C20 internal alterations, and C Wing, dating from shortly after 1914-15.
C and D wings are in the south-west section of the prison. Until circa 1908, the site contained one of the prison’s original cell blocks, known as No. IV Prison in the late C19. Between 1879 and 1883, D Wing was built adjoining and in line with the southern end of No. IV Prison, and was originally known as New No. IV Prison. It was built with 161 cells. The architect of this block was Sir Edmund du Cane; the other of du Cane’s cell blocks to survive is B Wing, the design of which is very similar to D Wing externally. In circa 1908, No. IV Prison was demolished; the new C Wing was designed circa 1911-12, and built soon after 1914-15; some window panes are inscribed with the date 1916. The block closed in circa 2002, and currently (2015) remains in a mothballed state as an unmodernised early-C20 prison block. D Wing was refurbished in the 1990s.
Two attached cell blocks, set on a linear north-west/south-east axis. D Wing, to the south-east, designed by Sir Edmund du Cane, was built between 1879 and 1883; C Wing, to the north, dates from shortly after 1914-15. There are late-C20 internal alterations to D Wing.
MATERIALS: D Wing is of granite rubble, with rock-faced granite quoins and granite ashlar dressings. C Wing is of granite ashlar. The roofs of both wings have been replaced with metal sheeting, and the windows of D Wing have been replaced. C Wing retains its original 21-pane windows, with individual sliding panes.
PLAN: together, the blocks form a long rectangular footprint, with projecting ablution wings to south-west and north-east. The wings meet at an angle, so that D Wing is slightly longer on the north-west side, and C Wing is slightly longer on the north-east side. There are entrances to the south and north of D Wing, and there is one to the north of C Wing, and at its north-west end; this entrance is served by a late-C20 covered walkway.
EXTERIOR: D Wing is eighteen bays long to the south-west, and sixteen to the north-east. The building is set on ground which slopes downwards towards the south-east; as a consequence, it is essentially four storeys high, with an additional lower floor or basement at the south-east end where the ground slopes downwards. The change in levels is marked by the rusticated plinth, which steps down beneath the basement at the south-east end. In the centre of the south-west elevation is a projecting ablution wing with heavy quoins. The building’s small horizontal windows have plain ashlar surrounds. Above the upper windows runs a corbel-course supporting a rounded cornice, above which a clerestory is set back. The clerestory windows are blocked; instead there are inserted lights in the metal roof. There is a tall plenum tower rising against the centre of the clerestory at the centre of each elevation; these towers are slightly battered towards the base, and have projecting cornices on corbels. The narrow south-eastern elevation has a central line of four tall windows, which appear mainly to retain original iron multi-pane window frames, with reinforced glass.
C Wing is four storeys, with its eaves and stone plinth continuing those of D Wing, and its windows in line with those of D Wing. It is seventeen bays long to the south-west, and nineteen to the north-east. The style of the building is plain by comparison with D Wing: it has a rounded cornice, but little other embellishment. The ablution wings have moulded cornices, above which are ventilation shafts. The north-west gable end of the block has large shaped corbels to the eaves, and windows arranged centrally in threes: the central light of the upper trio is tall. There are metal grilles set against the outer faces of the windows.
INTERIOR: the interior of D Wing has been completely refurbished, with modern fittings throughout, though the original cell layout remains.

An enclosed corridor has been created on the ground floor of C Wing, linking D Wing with the main covered walkway system. Apart from that, the interior of C Wing has not been changed since the wing closed circa 2002, and retains its original layout and fittings. At the north-west end the block is lit by the triple windows; at the south-east end are openings to the adjoining wing. The roof is supported by metal trusses. The galleried walkways have their metal stairs and railings, which are lower than such railings would now be; the walkways are supported by chamfered stone brackets. The cells retain their panelled and studded metal doors, with heavy bolts, and peep-holes. Beside each door is a numbered flag, forming part of a system used by inmates for attracting attention, by operating a push-button mechanism which caused the numbered flag to drop. The ablution wings have slopping-out facilities, with wide ceramic troughs.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV359353National Heritage List for England: Historic England. 2016. National Heritage List for England. Historic Houses Register. Digital.
SDV359436Cartographic: Historic England. 2016. H M Prison Dartmoor: C and D Wings. Listing Amendment Map. Digital. [Mapped feature: #73846 ]
SDV359840Report - Assessment: Brodie, A.. 2015. Devon, Lydford, Princetown, HMP Dartmoor. Historic England. A4 Comb Bound + Digital.

Associated Monuments

MDV15309Part of: Dartmoor Prison, Princetown (Building)
MDV114503Related to: Dartmoor Prison: A and B Wing cell blocks (Building)
MDV114508Related to: Dartmoor Prison: E Wing cell block (Building)
MDV114512Related to: Dartmoor Prison: Former Chapel and Service Building Complex (Building)
MDV114499Related to: Dartmoor Prison: section of wall enclosing the former marketplace (Monument)
MDV114510Related to: Dartmoor Prison: the Old Kitchen (Building)
MDV114502Related to: Dartmoor Prison; Former Petty Officers' Block (Building)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV7115 - Assessment of the buildings at Princetown Prison, Dartmoor

Date Last Edited:Nov 1 2016 10:25AM