HeritageGateway - Home
Site Map
Text size: A A A
You are here: Home > > > > Devon & Dartmoor HER Result
Devon & Dartmoor HERPrintable version | About Devon & Dartmoor HER | Visit Devon & Dartmoor HER online...

See important guidance on the use of this record.

If you have any comments or new information about this record, please email us.

HER Number:MDV14617
Name:Ditsworthy Warren House, Sheepstor


Ditsworthy Warren House; Grade II listed farmhouse, dating to at least the late 18th century, although may be older. Associated with several ruined out-buildings and set within Ditsworthy Warren, which was used to farm rabbits between 1676 and 1947. At its heyday it was the largest warren in Britain.


Grid Reference:SX 584 662
Map Sheet:SX56NE
Admin AreaDartmoor National Park
Civil ParishSheepstor
DistrictWest Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishSHEEPSTOR

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • National Monuments Record: SX56NE202
  • National Record of the Historic Environment: 619142
  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX56NE/7
  • Old Listed Building Ref (II): 92837

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • RECREATION CENTRE (Unknown to Late 20th Century (Pre))
  • FARMHOUSE (XV to XVI - 1500 AD? to 1599 AD (Between))

Full description

Haynes, R. G., 1970, Vermin Traps and Rabbit Warrens on Dartmoor, 160 (Article in Serial). SDV166302.

Ditsworthy Warren House. Appears to be mid-16th century with later enlargements; in a bad state of repair. It has a large kennel field, with walls in reasonable repair. Three dog houses built into thickness of the walls. House supplied with water by leat from Drizzlecombe Brook.

Price, D. G., 1980, The Moorland Plym, 81, 92 (Article in Serial). SDV254604.

Ditsworthy Warren House, now in use as an outdoor leisure centre, has six well-preserved but ruined out-buildings. It is first mentioned in 1474 but is very probably earlier. Occupied within living memory. Perhaps survived longer than some sites due to income from warrening. Other details: Figure 2a.

Hemery, E., 1983, High Dartmoor, 217-220 (Monograph). SDV249702.

Ditsworthy Warren appears to have already been long established when, in 1780, John Nichol(l)s was warrener. Nicholas Ware succeeded John Nichols in 1829 and must have been a man of great resourcefulness. He came from Gosport and knew little of the business of warrening and also had a wooden leg as a handicap to contend with. He made a success of Ditsworthy Warren, and Hentor and Willings Walls Warrens and was succeeded by his son William some time between 1851-1860. He was followed by his son, another Nicholas Ware and at the close of the 19th century the lands of the warren stretched from Spanish Lake and Legistor Warren to Eylesburrow, Plym Head and the crest of the Plym ridge to Langcombe Head and Great Gnats Head, apparently capable of netting over 300 rabbits in a night. The rabbits, once cleaned were taken by packhorse (and later horse and cart) to Plymouth and Devonport; a 28 mile, six-hour return journey. When the Yelverton train station opened in 1885, rabbits were taken onwards from there by train.
The nets used for trapping the rabbits were in Nicholas’s time, maintained by his wife, known as ‘Granny Ware’, who became a legend on Dartmoor. She was widowed in her late 30s, leaving her with two teenaged daughters and a son, Percy, and the largest warren n Britain. She apparently ruled the establishment with a rod of iron and supervised 8-9 men working under her at the height of the trading season. Her son Percy married Elizabeth Coaker of Lower Swincombe and became warrener in name only; Granny Ware remained in total control. Percy and Elizabeth moved out to Ditsworthy Bungalow, which they built nearby and later took to stock farming. When Granny Ware died in 1945 warrening at Ditsworthy came to an end. (Further detail and photographs of 'Granny Ware' and Elizabeth Ware included). Other details: Plates 140, 141.

Department of Environment, 1987, Sheepstor, 51 (List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest). SDV227819.

House, originally built for keeper of rabbit warren. Circa late 18th or early-mid 19th century with later 19th century addition. Granite rubble walls, partly rendered. Gable ended roof of felt sheeting. Three stacks, one of rendered brick at right gable end, rendered rubble axial stack and at left gable end.
Plan: originally 2-room plan with central entrance passage which had stairs in a projection at the rear. 1-room plan late 19th century addition built at right-hand end.
Exterior: 2 storeys. Asymmetrical 4-window front, original section to left has symmetrical arrangement of 3 windows and central open fronted porch which has 20th century plank door behind. All windows are shuttered. Straight joint between the two builds. At the right-hand end the fragmentary remains of a shippon stand. The rear elevation has shallow lean to stair projection at centre of original section.
Interior: inaccessible at time of survey.

Robertson, J. G., 1991, The Archaeology of the Upper Plym, 232 (Post-Graduate Thesis). SDV166324.

Documentary research by Robertson suggests that settlement remains similar to the medieval settlements nearby at Gutter Tor and Whittenknowles Rocks (PRN3391 and 4009) may exist beneath the buildings of Ditsworthy Warren and although the first records of the farm date to 1473, it may convincingly be earlier in date; similar to that of Gutter Tor, whose fields Ditsworthy appear to have used after the abandonment of Gutter Tor.

Fletcher, M. + Newman, P. + Probert, S., 1999, Drizzlecombe, Eylesbarrow, Ditsworthy and Hartor areas in the Plym Valley, West Devon (Report - Survey). SDV346268.

(02/08/1999) As it stands the warren house is of probably late 16th or early 17th century construction on earlier foundations. The structure is in good condition and in frequent use.

Whitbourn, A., 2001, An Archaeological Investigation into features comprising, and associated with, Ditsworthy Warren, 19-37, 80, Photographs 9 + 38, Appendix 5 (Report - Assessment). SDV360381.

Ditsworthy Warren House of two storeys and built of granite with later alterations. The land is owned by Maristow Estates and the house is presently used as a military training base. Exterior features are described but the interior was not accessible. Originally a two room dwelling and passage with later enlargements.
An article by Len Jones entitled 'An Insight into Military Training on South Dartmoor' in the Dartmoor Society Newsletter No 6 of October 1999 is included in Appendix 5. It relates that Ditsworhty Warren House is an old rabbit warrener's house built in the 16th century. It is used by the military as a base camp giving basic accommodation for 23 personnel with a further 100 personnel able to camp in the kennel field to the rear of the house. The article includes a sketch of the house and also states that 'recently young officers from Dartmouth have carried out drainage work to the track that leads to Ditsworthy Warren House'.

Newell, B., 2004, Elizabeth Beer Transcription (Report - non-specific). SDV348069.

Transcription of conversation with Elizabeth Beer, daughter of Percy Ware and discussion of Ditsworthy Warren. Other details: Also available to listen to at DNPA visitor centres.

National Monuments Record, 2011, 619142 (National Monuments Record Database). SDV227818.

Ordnance Survey, 2011, MasterMap (Cartographic). SDV346129.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV166302Article in Serial: Haynes, R. G.. 1970. Vermin Traps and Rabbit Warrens on Dartmoor. Post-Medieval Archaeology. 4. A4 Bound + digital. 160.
SDV166324Post-Graduate Thesis: Robertson, J. G.. 1991. The Archaeology of the Upper Plym. 232.
SDV227818National Monuments Record Database: National Monuments Record. 2011. 619142. National Monuments Record Database. Website.
SDV227819List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest: Department of Environment. 1987. Sheepstor. Historic Houses Register. A4 Comb Bound. 51.
SDV249702Monograph: Hemery, E.. 1983. High Dartmoor. High Dartmoor. Hardback Volume. 217-220.
SDV254604Article in Serial: Price, D. G.. 1980. The Moorland Plym. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 112. 81, 92.
SDV346129Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 2011. MasterMap. Ordnance Survey. Map (Digital). [Mapped feature: #81300 ]
SDV346268Report - Survey: Fletcher, M. + Newman, P. + Probert, S.. 1999. Drizzlecombe, Eylesbarrow, Ditsworthy and Hartor areas in the Plym Valley, West Devon. Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England Report. A4 Comb Bound.
SDV348069Report - non-specific: Newell, B.. 2004. Elizabeth Beer Transcription. 'Moor Memories' Oral History Project (DNPA). Digital.
SDV360381Report - Assessment: Whitbourn, A.. 2001. An Archaeological Investigation into features comprising, and associated with, Ditsworthy Warren. A4 Comb Bound. 19-37, 80, Photographs 9 + 38, Appendix 5.

Associated Monuments

MDV122705Parent of: Annexe south-east of Ditsworthy Warren House, Sheepstor (Building)
MDV14142Part of: Ditsworthy Warren, Sheepstor (Monument)
MDV25284Related to: Field system west of Ditsworthy Warren House (Monument)
MDV14618Related to: Fragments of vermin traps, Ditsworthy Warren House (Monument)
MDV122182Related to: Kennels at Ditsworthy Warren Farmstead, Sheepstor (Monument)
MDV3985Related to: Quern, Ditsworthy Warren (Find Spot)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV4966 - Survey of Drizzlecombe, Eylesbarrow, Ditsworthy and Hartor. The Eylesbarrow archaeological landscape
  • EDV7443 - Condition survey of archaeological sites in Ringmoor Training Area
  • EDV7551 - Ditsworthy Warren: An archaeological investigation
  • EDV7569 - Condition survey of Ringmoor Down training area
  • EDV8155 - Plym Valley Survey: EH Project (Feb 2001 - Dec 2002)
  • EDV8227 - Ringmoor Training Area: Monument Baseline Condition Survey

Date Last Edited:Aug 27 2021 2:07PM