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HER Number:MDV64026
Name:Okehampton Royal Artillery Training Camp

Summary

Okehampton Training Camp is an important site with evidence of more than a century of military use. A permament training camp was first built here in 1894, although the site had been used for a tented camp for annual training exercises for some years prior to this. The initial layout of the camp is shown on a plan dated 1896. To the north were the ordnance stores, magazines and gun park (now the parade ground). In the centre were the troop stables, dining rooms and terraced camping grounds. To the south, on the higher slopes, were the officers' mess and their quarters and the hospital. Further buildings were added between 1904 and 1913. The outbreak of the Second World War saw increaced use of the camp. Nearly 30 Nissen huts were built for accommodation and troop stables were converted to quarter blocks. Subsequently training took place at Okehampton for the campains in Korea (1950-53) and Suez (1956). Since the late 20th century the camp has been used extensively by the Territorial Army, Commando Brigades and Royal Marines with some buildings replaced or converted to other uses. The camp still provides accommodation for up to 720 armed forces personnel.

Location

Grid Reference:SX 587 930
Map Sheet:SX59SE
Admin AreaDartmoor National Park
Civil ParishOkehampton Hamlets
DistrictWest Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishOKEHAMPTON

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • National Monuments Record: 1352346
  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX59SE/209
  • SHINE Candidate (Yes)

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • MILITARY TRAINING SITE (Built, XIX - 1894 AD to 1894 AD)

Full description

English Heritage, 05/02/2015, Okehampton Camp. Various Buildings - Batch 1. EX20 1QP (Correspondence). SDV357838.

Following an initial assessment of buildings at Okehampton Camp for listing, it has been decided not to take Buildings 59, 62, 137, 70, 78, 87, 119, 120, 129 and 141 forward to full assessment. As a result they will not be added to the List at this time.


English Heritage, 05/02/2015, Okehampton Camp: Various Buildings. Batch 2 (Correspondence). SDV358077.

Research carried out in 2002 identified a number of buildings considered to be of particular importantce. An inspection of the buildings was carried out by English Heritage in 2014 and as a result 13 buildings have been carried forward to full assessment. This report considers the other pre 1940 buildings on site that were inspected. Despite the historic interest granted by their location at Okehampton Camp the pre 1940 buildings have no special architectural interest and do not meet the designation criteria for the following reasons: historical, architectural, rarity and intactness. [The individual buildings assessed are not identified].


English Heritage, 05/09/2014, Okehampton Camp. Building No. 94 (formerly Officers' Quarters) (Report - non-specific). SDV357078.

Modern military use of Dartmoor dates back to the late 18th century when it was used to train the Okehampton Militia. By the early 19th century it was being used for training by soldiers guarding Dartmoor Prison and by troops garrisoned in the Palmerston Forts in South Devon in the mid 19th century. When the Royal Artillery School of Gunnery at Shoeburyness became unsuitable for training purposes due to improvements in the range and power of artillery weapons Dartmoor was identified as a suitable barren and uninhabited area for its summer headquarters. Training became formalised into regular summer manoeuvres and in 1876 the first annual training event took place on the north moor with a tented camp at Okehampton. In 1892 the War Office secured a 999 year lease for the site of a permanent camp on 94 acres of land on the Okehampton Park Estate. The first phase of construction included buildings of a number of different types with the highest standards of design and materials reserved for the officer's accommodation and stabling for their horses, the hospital, dining rooms, barrack room, sergeants' mess and quarters, harness rooms and the guard room. The architect was James Julian who used the specifications outlined in the Royal Engineers Regulations of 1892, although the architectural detailing appears to be his own design. Other buildings such as troop stables, canteens, stores, magazines and offices were constructed of inferior materials to lower specifications. Temporary buildings were also constructed but the troops continued to sleep on straw mattresses in tents laid out on terraces cut into the hillside. Construction was completed in 1894.
The initial layout of the camp is shown on a War Office plan dated 1896. To the north were the ordnance stores, magazines and gun park (now the parade ground). In the centre were the troop stables, dining rooms and terraced camping grounds. To the south, on the higher slopes, were the officers' mess and their quarters and the hospital. Further buildings were added between 1904 and 1913 including four barrack blocks, improved drying rooms and a bread and meat store. The North Gate was in place by 1906. During the interwar period some of the earlier structures were replaced by new buildings with better facilities. Artillery became increasinging mechanised and jeeps or tractors tended to be used for deploying field guns rather than horses, although horses were still used in some capacity until the Second World War. The outbreak of the war saw increaced use of the camp. Nearly 30 Nissen huts were built for accommodation and troop stables were converted to quarter blocks.
The D-Day preparations of 1943-4 led to the replacement of British troops with the American 4th and 29th Divisions were took part in te Normandy invasion. Subsequently training took place at Okehampton for the campains in Korea (1950-53) and Suez (1956). Since the late 20th century the camp has been used extensively by the Territorial Army, Commando Brigades and Royal Marines with some buildings replaced or converted to other uses. The camp still provides accommodation for up to 720 armed forces personnel. Due to the harsh moorland conditions most of the buildings had uPVC windows and protective render on the sides and rear. Many of the granite window cills on the earliest buildings have also been cement rendered. Most of the roofs have been recovered and the chimneystacks removed. Other early camp buildings have been removed or otherwise altered in the 20th century and a number of infill buildings have been introduced. The road plan of the camp is largely intact.
See related monuments for details of individual buildings.


Ordnance Survey, 1904 - 1906, Second Edition Ordnance Survey 25 inch Map (Cartographic). SDV325644.

Okehampton Camp marked. The main buildings constructed in the late 19th century are shown together with the terraces for tents. Only the Hospital is named.


Ordnance Survey, 1930, 4th Edition (Cartographic). SDV339601.

Partial map coverage available for the camp on the 1930s mapping. Most of the camp and buildings shown.


Ordnance Survey, 1963, Ordnance Survey 1963 6 inch map (Cartographic). SDV60736.

'Okehampton Camp' marked on Ordnance Survey map. Complex of tracks and buildings. Individual named buildings include a hospital, swimming bath and gunnery lodge.


Wasley, G., 1994, Devon at War 1939-1945, 51,128,133 (Monograph). SDV165766.

Okehampton Royal Artillery Training Camp.


Wessex Archaeology, 2001, Okehampton Camp Devon. Archaeological Desk Based Assessment and Earthwork Survey (Report - Survey). SDV360511.

Archaeological building recording project and earthwork survey undertaken in order to define the nature and extent of the buildings and the archaeological remains in an around the camp to inform future management and development of the camp.
Okehampton Camp has been used for military training since about 1875. A series of leases exist dating from 1885-1925 including a 999 year lease from 1892, expiring 2891. Eight boundary marker stones were placed to define the leased area. The camp originally comprised a temporary tented area but by circa 1892 the foundations had been laid for the first permament buildings and the main camp was completed two years later. It thus represents an important period of the later history of land use on Dartmoor. The camp has been operational for over 107 years and is still in use for its original purpose. The historic military buildings range in date from the late 19th to the 21st century and together have both historic and group value.
The camp was established within the former Okehampton Deer Park. The creation of the Deer Pakr was believed to have resulted in the desertion of a number of farmsteads or hamlets. However, an earthwork survey undertaken in 2001 together with analogy with other parts of Dartmoor suggests that these in fact continued in use. During the 19th century the area of the former park was re-enclosed with the substantial drystone wall that forms the southern camp boundary today. At the same time a new regular field pattern was established and it was onto this landscape that the military camp was superimposed.
The earthwork survey showed the remnants of a relatively short-lived medieval agrarian landscape, predating circa AD1300, preserved as earthworks within the inner perimeter of the camp. A small complex of medieval structure immediately outside the southern perimeter was also surveyed which shoed that the buildngs represented are unlikely to be two longhouses but possibly barns or sheds. The visible 19th century elements are remnant field banks which can be seen between some of the camp buildings. In addition, a prehistoric sepulcharal monument was recorded and also the sites of modern military features including a weapons pit, the possible site of an anti aircraft gun, several target butts and numerous slit trenches.
The building survey, which was undertaken by P. Francis, also forms the subject of a separate report (SDV276160).


Fletcher, M. J., 2001, Untitled Source (Report - Survey). SDV348117.

Centred at SX58839302. An active military training camp occupies 23 hectares of a moorland hillside. The camp was established 1893-4 within an area previously delimited by military boundary stones. An outer buffer zone located on the south, east and north sides which comprises 24 hectares of moorland grass, was added to the military leasehold. Much of this zone was never developed and it was used for picketing horses. The camp has been subject to limited development over the decades as some buildings were demolished and others were added. The English Heritage Field Survey (Exeter) team undertook a field survey of the archaeological earthworks which lie within the camp as part of a management study for the ongoing development - including tree planting - of the site. The camp lies within the boundary of the 13th century Okehampton Park (PRN 14219). Apart from a damaged prehistoric barrow (PRN 67976) much of the earthwork evidence comprises various types of fragmentary ridge and furrow set within a medieval field system (PRN 20315). The footings and earthworks of abandoned military structures were noted in the outer zone. These include shallow air-raid shelters, a weapons pit, a possible anti-aircraft gun, small target butts and various slit trenches. See the report compiled in 2001 for further details.


Francis, P., 2002, Okehampton Artillery Camp Historical Appraisal, 1-12 (Report - Assessment). SDV276160.

In 1875 Okehampton was assessed for its suitability for training field artillery. The first annual event began in the summer of 1876 when the Royal Artillery pitched a camp above Okehampton at Halstock Down for a three-week period. By 1895 the War Department had acquired all the necessary leases for land required for a permanent camp (as the Field Artillery Practice Camp). Also the northern quarter of Okehampton Forest amounting to 15 square miles was now licenced with firing taking place between May and September. Construction began of the officers’ stables in July 1892 and the rest of the camp nine months later with completion of the first phase on 14 June 1894. The camp occupies a 90 acre site within Okehampton Park at the foot of Black Down Hill.
Okehampton became the HQ of the School of Gunnery (normally at Shoeburyness) in the summer months, and as such was the UK’s most important practice camp. Batteries from all over England arrived by rail complete with their own horses and guns. Leading up to the outbreak of Word War One, agricultural tractors were being trailed as gun tows, later, and especially during the 1930s, purpose-built wheeled and tracked vehicles were introduced. Until WW2 these developments ran in parallel with the retention of the horse for hauling guns and their ammunition. The complexity of guns and the corresponding increase in mechanisation, required new facilities to replace the stable blocks and harness rooms.
The War Department’s purchase of Willsworthy’s freehold between 1908 and 1912, and the use of this area as an infantry field firing range, led to an increase in the number of infantry soldiers using the camp. Mobilisation at the start of WW2 brought many soldiers to Dartmoor, to use the extensive facilities. The threat of invasion resulted in the formation of the 13th Moorland Battalion of the Home Guard. Virtually the whole moor north of the Tavistock-Moretonhampstead road was requisitioned for military training of every description though artillery firing predominated. In order to cope with the increased demand for barrack accommodation on the camp, nearly thirty Nissen huts were erected and the redundant troop stables were hastily converted into quarter blocks.
With the preparations for D-Day, the British moved out to be replaced by Americans of the 4th and 29th Divisions, destined to assault the beaches of Normandy’s right flank. Fixed wing aircraft used a landing strip on Halstock Down, 2,000m south-east of the camp, providing rapid communications during WW2. This was abandoned with the introduction of helicopters enabling rotary-wing aircraft to land within the camp.
In the 1950s, Okehampton Camp was the base for Eaton Hall Officer Cadet Training Unit’s battle camp. Training also took place for the campaigns in Korea (1950-1953) and Suez (1956). Throughout the latter half of the last Century (and beyond) the Territorial Army has made extensive use of the facilities on camp during their fortnight long annual camps. Today, almost 110 years after the camp was built, it provides spartan accommodation for up to 720 personnel of the Royal Navy, Army and Royal Air Force.
Report comprises a historical building survey including a comprehensive gazetteer of surviving buildings and a photographic archive of all buildings.


Wessex Archaeology, 2002, Okehampton Camp. Archaeological Building Recording Survey and Final Earthwork Survey Report (Report - Survey). SDV348121.

Archaeological building recording project and earthwork survey undertaken in order to define the nature and extent of the buildings and the archaeological remains in an around the camp to inform future management and development of the camp.
Okehampton Camp has been used for military training since about 1875. A series of leases exist dating from 1885-1925 including a 999 year lease from 1892, expiring 2891. Eight boundary marker stones were placed to define the leased area. The camp originally comprised a temporary tented area but by circa 1892 the foundations had been laid for the first permament buildings and the main camp was completed two years later. It thus represents an important period of the later history of land use on Dartmoor. The camp has been operational for over 107 years and is still in use for its original purpose. The historic military buildings range in date from the late 19th to the 21st century and together have both historic and group value.
The camp was established within the former Okehampton Deer Park. The creation of the Deer Pakr was believed to have resulted in the desertion of a number of farmsteads or hamlets. However, an earthwork survey undertaken in 2001 together with analogy with other parts of Dartmoor suggests that these in fact continued in use. During the 19th century the area of the former park was re-enclosed with the substantial drystone wall that forms the southern camp boundary today. At the same time a new regular field pattern was established and it was onto this landscape that the military camp was superimposed.
The earthwork survey showed the remnants of a relatively short-lived medieval agrarian landscape, predating circa AD1300, preserved as earthworks within the inner perimeter of the camp. A small complex of medieval structure immediately outside the southern perimeter was also surveyed which shoed that the buildngs represented are unlikely to be two longhouses but possibly barns or sheds. The visible 19th century elements are remnant field banks which can be seen between some of the camp buildings. In addition, a prehistoric sepulcharal monument was recorded and also the sites of modern military features including a weapons pit, the possible site of an anti aircraft gun, several target butts and numerous slit trenches.
The building survey, which was undertaken by P. Francis, also forms the subject of a separate report (SDV276160).


Schofield, J., 2011, Archaeology Data Service (England's Army Camps) (Website). SDV348118.

England's Army Camps Project (2006) provides a detailed and analysis of the construction and use of army camps between 1858 and 2000.
Okehampton was an artillery practice camp constructed in 1894 with 32 officers, 34 Warrant Officers and Sergeants and 646 other ranks. Permanent stone, brick and wooden buildings. During World War II it continued as an artillery practice camp but in 1940 it also became a Reinforcement Camp and 1941/2 it became a Reception Camp supplying the south-west District. 1950s and continued use as a Officer Cadet Training Unit (OCTU) Battle Camp, Territorial Army.


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

'Okehampton Camp' depicted on modern mapping.


Clark, T., 2011, The Military on Dartmoor (Website). SDV348119.

Okehampton camp was begun in 1893 with the construction of metal stables for the horses, sheds for the guns and the men were billeted in bell tents. The buildings were improved in 1930 and Nissen huts were built and the camp was used much more just prior to the Second World War. Some of the early buildings have survived including: the cook houses, hospital, a small married quarters built of galvanized iron, ammunition stores and the terraced areas for pitching tents.
(from a talk to the Widecombe History Group By Lieutenant Colonel Tony Clark Retired O.B.E.) Other details: Talk to the History Group in 2005?.


English Heritage, 25/07/2014, Okehampton Camp. Building No. 94 (Correspondence). SDV357077.

Notification that English Heritage are undertaking a project to consider a number of the military buildings on Okehampton Training Camp for addition to the National Heritage List for England. The project was initiated by the Ministry of Defence and an inspection of the camp buildings was carried out by English Heritage in April 2014. As a result of this inspection a number of the buildings have been carried forward for full assessment. (See related monuments for correspondence relating to and details of individual buildings).

Sources / Further Reading

SDV165766Monograph: Wasley, G.. 1994. Devon at War 1939-1945. Devon at War. Hardback Volume. 51,128,133.
SDV276160Report - Assessment: Francis, P.. 2002. Okehampton Artillery Camp Historical Appraisal. Wessex Archaeology Report. A4 Comb Bound + Digital. 1-12.
SDV325644Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 1904 - 1906. Second Edition Ordnance Survey 25 inch Map. Second Edition Ordnance Survey 25 inch Map. Map (Digital).
SDV339601Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 1930. 4th Edition. Ordnance Survey 25 inch Map. Map (Digital).
SDV346129Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 2011. MasterMap. Ordnance Survey. Map (Digital). [Mapped feature: #97501 ]
SDV348117Report - Survey: Fletcher, M. J.. 2001. English Heritage Archaeological Investigation Report. Unknown.
SDV348118Website: Schofield, J.. 2011. Archaeology Data Service (England's Army Camps). Website.
SDV348119Website: Clark, T.. 2011. The Military on Dartmoor. www.widecombe-in-the-moor.com. Website.
SDV348121Report - Survey: Wessex Archaeology. 2002. Okehampton Camp. Archaeological Building Recording Survey and Final Earthwork Survey Report. Wessex Archaeology Report. 50182. A4 Comb Bound + Digital.
SDV357077Correspondence: English Heritage. 25/07/2014. Okehampton Camp. Building No. 94. Notification of Project to Consider Buildings for Inclusion on List. Digital.
SDV357078Report - non-specific: English Heritage. 05/09/2014. Okehampton Camp. Building No. 94 (formerly Officers' Quarters). English Heritage Consultation Report. 1421673. Digital.
SDV357838Correspondence: English Heritage. 05/02/2015. Okehampton Camp. Various Buildings - Batch 1. EX20 1QP. Notification of Decision not to Add Building to the List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest. Digital.
SDV358077Correspondence: English Heritage. 05/02/2015. Okehampton Camp: Various Buildings. Batch 2. Notification of Decision not to Add Building to the List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest. Digital.
SDV360511Report - Survey: Wessex Archaeology. 2001. Okehampton Camp Devon. Archaeological Desk Based Assessment and Earthwork Survey. Wessex Archaeology Report. 50171. A4 Comb Bound.
SDV60736Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 1963. Ordnance Survey 1963 6 inch map. Ordnance Survey 6 inch map. Map (Paper).

Associated Monuments

MDV107752Parent of: Barracks (Building 65), Okehampton Training Camp (Building)
MDV107909Parent of: Bread and Meat Store (Building 86), Okehampton Camp (Building)
MDV109516Parent of: Building 82 (formerly Harness Room 1), Okehampton Camp (Building)
MDV108669Parent of: Camp Quartermaster's Store (Building 139), Okehampton Camp (Building)
MDV107930Parent of: Camping Terraces at Okehampton Camp (Monument)
MDV108670Parent of: Cookhouse (Building 146), Okehampton Camp (Building)
MDV108571Parent of: Cookhouse and Dining Room (Building 47), Okehampton Camp (Building)
MDV108574Parent of: Dining Room (Building 147), Okehampton Camp (Building)
MDV108573Parent of: Dining Room (Building 59) Okehampton Camp (Building)
MDV107916Parent of: Drying Room (Building 98), Okehampton Camp (Building)
MDV108656Parent of: Drying Room, now Chapel and Office (Building 103), Okehampton Camp (Building)
MDV107899Parent of: Former Dining Room (Building 85), Okehampton Camp (Building)
MDV108579Parent of: Former Stables (Buildings 62 and 137), Okehampton Camp (Building)
MDV107757Parent of: Guard Room (Building 116), Okehampton Training Camp (Building)
MDV108568Parent of: Harness Store (Building 16), Okehampton Camp (Building)
MDV108528Parent of: Harness Stores (Buildings 10, 12 and 15), Okehampton Camp (Building)
MDV107894Parent of: Harness Stores (Buildings 82, 108 and 141), Okehampton Training Camp (Building)
MDV107922Parent of: Hospital and Accommodation Block (Buildings 150 and 151), Okehampton Camp (Building)
MDV108529Parent of: Latrine Blocks (Buildings 14, 49, 79 and 87), Okehampton Camp (Building)
MDV108588Parent of: Married Soldiers Quarters (Buildings 70, 114 and 115), Okehampton Camp (Building)
MDV107739Parent of: Officers Quarters (Building 94), Okehampton Training Camp (Building)
MDV107911Parent of: Officers Stables (Buildings 99 and 100), Okehampton Camp (Building)
MDV108728Parent of: Okehampton Camp Boundary Marker Stones (Nos 1-8), Okehampton Hamlets (Monument)
MDV108667Parent of: Ordnance Store No. 1 (Building 129), Okehampton Camp (Building)
MDV108569Parent of: RASC Stores and Barracks (Building 46), Okehampton Camp (Building)
MDV108727Parent of: Reservoir at Okehampton Camp (Monument)
MDV108572Parent of: Sergeants/Officers Mess (Building 57), Okehampton Camp (Building)
MDV107756Parent of: Shell Store and Magazines (Buildings 119-121), Okehampton Training Camp (Building)
MDV108591Parent of: Staff Sergeant and Sergeants Mess (Building 78), Okehampton Camp (Building)
MDV113499Parent of: Store or office at Okehampton Camp (Building)
MDV107754Parent of: Warrant Officers and Staff Sergeants Quarters (Building 69), Okehampton Training Camp (Building)
MDV67976Related to: Barrow north of Okehampton Training Camp (Monument)
MDV14212Related to: Deserted Medieval Settlement (Linehan Site 53a & b), Okehampton Park (Monument)
MDV14218Related to: Deserted Medieval Settlement (Linehan Site 54), Okehampton Park (Monument)
MDV30507Related to: Deserted Medieval Settlement (Site 112), Okehampton Park (Monument)
MDV20315Related to: Medieval Field System, Okehampton Park (Monument)
MDV14219Related to: Okehampton Deer Park. Okehampton Hamlets (Park/Garden)
MDV108833Related to: Remains of Medieval Building in Okehampton Park (Building)
MDV7650Related to: Two Medieval Longhouses in Okehampton Park, Okehampton Hamlets (Building)
MDV70200Related to: Zig-zag trench near St Michael's Bungalow, Okehampton (Monument)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV5539 - Okehampton Artillery Camp Historical Appraisal
  • EDV5544 - Building Recording and Earthwork Survey at Okehampton Camp
  • EDV6567 - Inspection of Buildings at Okehampton Camp
  • EDV3474 - Earthwork survey of Okehampton Castle and Park

Date Last Edited:Oct 16 2015 12:35PM