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Okehampton Camp: Building 69 (formerly Warrant Officers' and Staff Sergeants' Quarters)

A Grade II Listed Building in Okehampton Hamlets, Devon

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Latitude: 50.72 / 50°43'11"N

Longitude: -4.0001 / 4°0'0"W

OS Eastings: 258906

OS Northings: 93058

OS Grid: SX589930

Mapcode National: GBR Q2.HY17

Mapcode Global: FRA 27H5.RFP

Plus Code: 9C2QPX9X+XW

Entry Name: Okehampton Camp: Building 69 (formerly Warrant Officers' and Staff Sergeants' Quarters)

Listing Date: 5 February 2015

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1422355

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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A former Warrant Officers’ and Staff Sergeants’ Quarters of 1894. Part of Okehampton Training Camp.


Former Warrant Officers’ and Staff Sergeants’ Quarters, built in 1894 to the designs of James Julian, War Office contractor.

MATERIALS: constructed of snecked slatestone blocks with brick quoins and brick window and door openings. The interior of the walls is lined in fair faced brick. The window cills are granite. The timber roof structure is covered in Cornish slate tiles.

PLAN: aligned north-west to south-east the quarters building is rectangular on plan. It is laid out as eight bedrooms of near equal size. The four central rooms have a shared porch and internal lobby. The two rooms to each end have an external porch with entrances side-by-side.

EXTERIOR: the single-storey building is of five bays, with a central projecting bay to all four elevations. The north and south porches have gabled roofs, and those to the east and west are lean-to. The windows have rubbed brick flat arches, and there are a number of iron and terracotta air vents in the façade. To the side elevations the chamfered ends of the purlins are exposed. The north, west and east elevations are concrete rendered and painted. The window frames, doors, fascias and rainwater goods are modern replacements. Both brick chimney stacks have been removed.

INTERIOR: the building was not inspected internally, but is thought to retain its original layout. There are replacement fire doors and uPVC window cills. The roof consists of timber rafters with collars supported longitudinally by a central dividing wall.

SUBSIDIARY FEATURES: a concrete path lines the outside of the building, with granite curbs and gullies that curve at the building’s corners. An adjacent shower block and boiler room (Building 68) of c.1940 is attached to the east end via a water pipe, and is not of special interest.


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 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 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 Warrant Officers’ and Staff Sergeants’ Quarters (Building 69) was designed by James Julian, War Office contractor, in 1892 and built in 1894. The building appears to be unaltered in plan. Both chimneystacks have been removed, the window frames and doors, and rainwater goods, are replacements, and the granite cills have been rendered. There are a small number of later terracotta air vents in the façade.

Reasons for Listing

Building 69, the former Warrant Officers’ and Staff Sergeants’ Quarters of 1894 at Okehampton Camp, 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 played an important role in the advancement of new military techniques and tactics from the late C19, including preparations for the major artillery conflicts of the modern era;
* 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 Building 69 is one;
* Architectural interest: a handsomely designed building, given its military use, the quarters is built using quality materials such as rubbed brick and local slate stone and granite to present one of the more successful architectural statements of this Victorian military generation;
* Intactness: despite some adaptation, to be expected for the maintenance of structures in this relatively inhospitable location on the edge of Dartmoor, the original use and function of the building is legible and the building survives well;
* 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.

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