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HER Number:MDV64758
Name:Parkland , Lifton


Parkland surrounding Lifton Park, with pheasantrys and woodland to the north, a fishpond to the south and a rookery to the west. The park may have been a former deer park.


Grid Reference:SX 381 846
Map Sheet:SX38SE
Admin AreaDevon
Civil ParishLifton
DistrictWest Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishLIFTON

Protected Status: none recorded

Other References/Statuses

  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX38SE/66/1

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • PARK (XIX - 1801 AD to 1900 AD (Between))
  • DEER PARK (XIX to XXI - 1807 AD to 2016 AD (Pre))

Full description

Gray, T., 1995, The Garden History of Devon: An Illustrated Guide to Sources, 140 (Monograph). SDV671.

In 1850, White noted 'a handsome seat' encompassed by c300 acres of lawns and woods at 'Lifton' or 'Castle Park' stretching to the Tamar valley and commanding 'delightful views'. Stockdale described the surrounding plantations as covering c800 acres.

Devon Gardens Trust, 1999, Devon Local Register, 91 (Un-published). SDV170167.

Clark, J. + Richardson, D., 1999, Lifton Park (Un-published). SDV357685.

Devon Gardens Trust, 2013, Devon Gazetteer of Parks and Gardens of Local Interest (Reg/Local list of Historic Parks and Gdns). SDV354335.

Clark, J. + Richardson, D., 2013, Lifton Park (Un-published). SDV357686.

The entrances to Lifton Park are marked by decorative Victorian Lodges; Home Park and South Lodge. The large Gothic mansion was built in 1805 for William Arundel; the eight bay west entrance wing has been restored and the ruins have been stabilised. The arboretum was laid out at the time and much still remains. Rockeries and formal seating areas still exist within the woodland. White (1850) noted “…a handsome seat….encompassed by about 300 acres of lawn and woods, stretching to the Tamar valley and commanding delightful views. Stockdale wrote “…very delightfully situated and commands an interesting prospect of the town of Launceston with its ancient castle, indeed no expense seems to have been spared to render the surrounding plantations containing about 8000 acres. It is shown on the 1907 OS as having parkland with a fishpond south of the house, a rookery to the west, two pheasantries and Lifton Wood containing rides/walks to the north. Lifton Park is now in several separate ownerships.

Gent, T. + Manning, P., 2016, Lifton Wood and the Development of the Surrounding Area. (Report - Assessment). SDV359657.

This desk-based assessment was carried out between August 2015 and February 2016 to assist in the interpretation of a recently rediscovered hilltop enclosure and other features in Lifton Wood, Lifton, Devon.

Lifton Park has been associated with a property called Parke, documented in a deed of 1299, which includes 'Henry Mona…to Adam Mona his brother…Quit claim of all right in the land of Windersdone Lockeslonde and in Parke…Consideration 20 silver shillings.'33 In a medieval context, the name would seem to suggest the existence of a deer park (see section 2.7). There are no properties or other features depicted in the vicinity on Donn's map of 1765, which may be expected to show any house of reasonable size and status.

It is possible that Lifton Park is on the site of a property called Parke in 1299, the name of which suggests that it lies within, or close to, a former deer park. No park is depicted in the Lifton area on Donn's 1765 map of Devon, or Speed's map of Devon in 1610, which show some other parks, suggesting that any such park was no longer recognised by these times.

As a royal estate, there is no doubt that there were one or more parks in Lifton, and indeed there is documentary evidence for such. A 1272 document refers to the poaching of deer and hares from parks and warrens in Lifton belonging to Edmund de Allemania, Earl of Cornwall, and in 1324, Edmund Earl of Kent, the king's brother, was granted the fines etc. imposed upon men 'who cut down trees in the king's parks and woods at Lifton, Co. Devon, and assaulted the king's bailiffs there'. In Lifton in 1304, 2.5 furlongs of land, part of which was called 'Mertcumbe', was granted by Richard de Asshele to 'Walter le Parkere, attebeare'; the 'parker' name suggests a deerpark, or at least the keeper of one, possibly at
Beara, to the north of Lifton village, or Little Beara/Bear closer and to the north-east. In 1840 there were fields (two) called Higher Deerpark and Lower Deerpark just north of the village and a further field, called Deerpark, at the parish boundary to the north of Tinhay.

There were parks in the Saxon period (about 35 'parks of woodland beasts' are mentioned in Domesday Book), but most were created following the Conquest. These latter parks were designed primarily for the raising of fallow deer, it being possible to increase the production of venison by tenfold in such an enclosed system. The possible land-uses within parks for deer, other livestock, wood and timber, are found in various proportions and around 50% of parks were divided into different compartments. A water supply was a necessity. Rabbit warrens were frequently sited within a park and fish ponds were also common, the park boundary, and its keeper, who usually had a lodge within the pale, providing protection from poaching.

Parks varied greatly in size, and an average of 200 acres has been suggested; sizes range from 4,000 acres to 14 acres, although both of these are exceptional. Parks were costly and difficult to maintain and it has been suggested that those with less than 50 acres, of which there were many, would have been mainly of status value, rather than economic. Many of the earliest parks tended to be roughly rectangular in shape, with rounded corners, whereas later medieval parks were often small or awkwardly shaped, having to take account of existing boundaries or other features Following their heyday in around 1300, parks began a long and slow decline. Labour shortages and rising wage costs following the Black Death in 1348 made it difficult to justify the luxury of such an unprofitable use of the land, and many also fell into disuse in the late 16th and 17th centuries at a time when Royalty became less preoccupied with hunting.

Some parks became woodland and others were grubbed up and the land used for agriculture. Perhaps the most characteristic physical feature of a park was the essential deer-proof perimeter boundary, often a substantial bank with an inner ditch (to keep deer in), which would have been topped by a timber palisade. Occasional 'deer-leaps' were provided to enable deer to gain access. In some cases the earlier, or later, use of park boundaries as wood banks, which have the ditch on the outside, means that the characteristic inner ditch of a park is not always identifiable. An outer strip of land between the park boundary and the property boundary, the 'freeboard', necessary access for maintenance, can be an additional identifying feature.

Despite the documentary evidence for a deer park in Lifton, and 'park' names within the study area, no firm evidence of any associated features has so far been determined, either close to the study site, or in the wider locality. A number of potential park boundary banks have been considered within the survey area, including a bank at the northern edge of Lifton Wood, and a bank close to the River Lyd with bank the northern edge probably the most convincing. A number of ‘gate’ names are present in the surrounding area, often regarded as remnants of a park, but unless the enclosed area was very large, these are almost certainly too far from Lifton to be connected.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV170167Un-published: Devon Gardens Trust. 1999. Devon Local Register. Devon Local Register of Parks and Gardens of Local Historic Interest. A4 Stapled + Digital. 91.
SDV354335Reg/Local list of Historic Parks and Gdns: Devon Gardens Trust. 2013. Devon Gazetteer of Parks and Gardens of Local Interest. Historic Parks and Gardens - Register and Local List. Digital.
SDV357685Un-published: Clark, J. + Richardson, D.. 1999. Lifton Park. Devon Register Review. A4 Stapled + Digital.
SDV357686Un-published: Clark, J. + Richardson, D.. 2013. Lifton Park. Devon Local Register of Parks and Gardens of Local Historic Interest. Digital.
SDV359657Report - Assessment: Gent, T. + Manning, P.. 2016. Lifton Wood and the Development of the Surrounding Area.. Archaedia. 1155. Digital.
SDV671Monograph: Gray, T.. 1995. The Garden History of Devon: An Illustrated Guide to Sources. The Garden History of Devon: An Illustrated Guide to Sources. Paperback Volume. 140.

Associated Monuments

MDV73253Parent of: Aviary, Lifton Park (Monument)
MDV130010Parent of: Earthwork bank within Lifton Park, Lifton (Monument)
MDV41393Parent of: Earthworks, Lifton Wood (Monument)
MDV41393Related to: Earthworks, Lifton Wood (Monument)
MDV112193Parent of: Field system, park pale and wood banks within Lifton Wood, Lifton (Monument)
MDV39375Parent of: Fishpond, Lifton Park (Monument)
MDV73254Parent of: Landscape feature, Lifton Park (Monument)
MDV73249Parent of: Pheasantrys, Lifton Park (Monument)
MDV73262Parent of: Rookery, Lifton Park (Monument)
MDV73252Parent of: Tree enclosure ring north-east of Lifton Park Farm, Lifton (Monument)
MDV73256Parent of: Tree enclosure ring south-east of Lifton Park Farm, Lifton (Monument)
MDV41393Parent of: Earthworks, Lifton Wood (Monument)
MDV41393Related to: Earthworks, Lifton Wood (Monument)
MDV64757Related to: Lifton Park Mansion (Building)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV6997 - Desk-Based Assessment of a Hilltop Enclosure in Lifton Wood and the Development of the Surrounding Area. (Ref: 1155)

Date Last Edited:Feb 18 2021 11:05AM