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Okehampton Camp: Building 99 (formerly Officers' Stables No.2)

A Grade II Listed Building in Okehampton Hamlets, Devon

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Latitude: 50.7194 / 50°43'9"N

Longitude: -4.0036 / 4°0'13"W

OS Eastings: 258657

OS Northings: 92995

OS Grid: SX586929

Mapcode National: GBR Q2.J3D7

Mapcode Global: FRA 27H5.Q30

Plus Code: 9C2QPX9W+PH

Entry Name: Okehampton Camp: Building 99 (formerly Officers' Stables No.2)

Listing Date: 5 February 2015

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1422345

Location: Okehampton Hamlets, West Devon, Devon, EX20

County: Devon

Civil Parish: Okehampton Hamlets

Traditional County: Devon

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Devon

Church of England Parish: Okehampton All Saints

Church of England Diocese: Exeter

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One of two former officers’ stables, built between 1892-1893, designed by T H Gibson.


One of two former officers’ stables, built between 1892-1893, designed by T H Gibson.

MATERIALS: an exposed red brick front with blue brick dressings. The modern windows in the front brick elevation have chamfered granite cills that may have been reused from the original openings while the rear and side elevations are cement rendered. The roofs are slate covered with a rendered stack and have uPVC fascias.

PLAN: a single-depth building, rectangular on plan on an east to west alignment, built into a north facing slope

EXTERIOR: a single-storey building. The front elevation has ten red brick bays which are divided by blue brick pilasters with chamfer detailing. The former central entrance has been in-filled with red brick and the east and west entrances have been replaced with modern doors. There is a further rendered bay at either end (former harness rooms). The former stable windows, under the eaves, can still be identified as blocked openings. Each bay contains an offset two-light uPVC window and a steel upright. The two rendered end bays each contain a single-light window with concrete cill. There are further modern uPVC openings to the side and rear elevations. It has a slate roof with a rendered ridge stack over the west end.
INTERIOR: the original internal fittings have been removed. The corridor has been moved to the rear and the building has been subdivided by masonry walls into ten bedrooms and a washroom, with two further rooms in the end, rendered bays*. The curved rear wall remains.
* Pursuant to s.1 (5A) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 (‘the Act’) it is declared that all of the internal walls, and modern fixtures and fittings are not of special architectural or historic interest.
SUBSIDIARY FEATURES: it has a set of stone drains around the exterior.


Dartmoor has been used as a defensive location since at least the Bronze Age. There is evidence of Iron Age, Roman, Medieval and Civil War military use in the Okehampton area, indicating the strategic significance of the area as the elevated gateway to the south west of England. Okehampton Training Camp is on the edge of Dartmoor within the C13 Okehampton Deer Park. Medieval settlements were scattered through the park and the remains of one extends across the north-west corner of the camp, and others lie close by.

The modern military use of the moor dates back to the late C18 when it was used to train the Okehampton Militia. By the early C19, soldiers guarding Dartmoor Prison used the moor for training, and troops garrisoned in the Palmerston Forts in South Devon used Dartmoor by the mid-C19. The Militia also continued training, often on Hay Tor, and in large numbers. Later in the C19, due to improvements in the range and power of artillery weapons, the Royal Artillery School of Gunnery at Shoeburyness (est. 1859) became unsuitable for training, and Dartmoor was identified as a suitably barren and uninhabited area to become its summer headquarters. Training became formalised into regular summer manoeuvres for the Royal Artillery from 1873, with the permission of the landowner the Duchy of Cornwall. In 1876, the first annual training event took place using the north moor, with a tented camp located at Okehampton.

By the early 1890s the War Office and Royal Artillery resolved to build a permanent camp at Okehampton to provide better protection against the harsh weather conditions. On 31st December 1892, the War Office secured a 999 year lease for the site of the camp: 94 acres of land on the Okehampton Park Estate. The first phase of construction included buildings of a number of different types, functions and specifications. The highest standards of design and materials were reserved for the officers’ accommodation and stabling for their horses, the hospital, the dining rooms, a barrack room, sergeants’ mess and quarters, harness rooms and the guard room. The architect was James Julian, a War Office contractor, who used specifications outlined in paragraph 1151 of the Royal Engineers Regulations of 1892. The architectural detailing appears to be Julian’s own design. Construction was completed on 14 June 1894 at a cost of £11,604. Other ancillary buildings, such as troop stables, canteens, stores, magazines and offices were constructed of inferior materials to lower specifications. Temporary buildings were also built and the troops continued to sleep on straw mattresses in tents, laid out on terraces cut into the hillside. Other artillery training camps were set up at Lydd (1882), Golden Hill, Isle of Wight (1888) and Salisbury Plain (1899).

From May to September each year, batteries from across England travelled by rail to Okehampton for two or three weeks training. In 1901 a battery consisted of 5 officers, 166 men, 6 guns and at least 89 horses. The camp could accommodate two brigades each containing four batteries. The initial layout of the camp is shown on a War Office plan of 30 May 1896 (WO 78_3547), surveyed and drawn by F.W. Stanlake. To the north were the ordnance stores, magazines and a gun park (now the parade ground). In the centre of the camp were 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.

Between 1904 and 1913 further buildings were added including four barrack blocks, improved drying rooms, and a bread and meat store. The North Gate to the camp was in place by 1906. During the interwar period, artillery operations became increasingly mechanised and tractors or jeeps replaced horses as the principal means of deploying field guns. new buildings with better facilities replaced some of the earlier structures. However, horses were still used in some capacity until the Second World War. The outbreak of war saw the increased use of the camp and 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, who took part in the Normandy invasion. Subsequently, training took place at Okehampton for the campaigns in Korea (1950-53) and Suez (1956), and it remained the most important field artillery practice camp in the country throughout the C20.

Since the late C20 the Camp has been used extensively by the Territorial Army, Commando Brigades and the Royal Marines, with some buildings having been replaced or converted to other uses. Due to the harsh moorland conditions, most buildings have uPVC window frames, protective render to the sides and rear. Many of the granite window sills 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 C20, and a number of infill buildings have been introduced. The road plan of the camp is largely intact.

In 2014 the camp still provides accommodation for up to 720 armed forces personnel.

The former officers’ stables (Building 99 and 100) were the first permanent structures to be built on the site. Permission was given for their construction on 27 July 1892 and they were completed on 13 May 1893, designed by T H Gibson. The officers’ stable blocks were larger than those built for the troops’ due to the officers having larger horses (circa 16 hands). Originally constructed to be open fronted, the front elevation was in-filled with brick a couple of years later. The stables were originally divided into 24 timber loose boxes with an access corridor running along the front of the building, with entrances at either end of the north elevation, and a further opening in the centre. There are two further bays at either end of the blocks which were saddle stores. Officers could have up to three horses (one was War Department issued). The rear wall is curved where it meets the floor to help with hosing down horses. A slight fall from the rear to the front of the building helped to direct draining towards a gully which would have run the length of the block. By 1976 the stable block (formerly Stables No.2) was converted into accommodation.

Reasons for Listing

Building 99, one of two former officer’s stables built between 1892-93, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

* Historic interest: it has strong cultural and historical significance, within both a local and national context. The Royal Artillery Training Camp at Okehampton in played an important role in the advancement of new military techniques and tactics from the late C19;

* Rarity: of the three artillery training camps to have been established in the late-C19, Okehampton is the only one to survive with a legible group of contemporary buildings of note, of which Buildings 99 and 100 are the first permanent structures to be built at the camp;

* Architectural interest: it demonstrate an notable level of architectural attention, given its military use, with contrasting coloured brick, and despite later alterations, particularly internally, the original function of the building is still legible;

* Group Value: it forms an historic group with other late-C19 camp buildings, with which it has a related use and design concept. Together they form a compact pre-mechanised transport artillery training camp;

* Setting: additional and significant interest is provided by the relationship of the camp to Okehampton Range on the Dartmoor Training Area, which in part overlooks the camp and instigated the creation of the camp. It contains evidence of its late-C19 and later use by the occupants of the camp. The range is of high historic significance in itself, and the two sites should not be seen in isolation of each other.

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