New Street, Chagford
One of the original stannary towns of Devon, Chagford lies in a wooded area on the eastern edge of Dartmoor National Park. The town grew up around a ford across the River Teign. The town name comes from the words for gorse and a river ford, so Chagford might translate as the ford where gorse grows.


The Chagford area has been inhabited since at least 2000 BC, but the town really grew in size and importance during the medieval period, at first due to the wool trade and later as a centre of tin mining. In 1305 its importance as a centre for mining was recognised when it was made a stannary town; a place where tin was brought to be weighed, graded, and traded.

St Michael's church dates to the 13th century, with many 15th century additions. The interior highlight is a series of painted medieval roof bosses, including one in the shape of 'three hares', the traditional symbol of Cornish tin miners.

Two Tragic Shootings

In the church is a memorial to Mary Whiddon, who was shot dead as she left the church after getting married in 1641. A tradition has evolved whereby new brides lay flowers on Whiddon's grave. Author RD Blackmore is thought to have used Whiddon's tragic tale as inspiration for his novel Lorna Doone. The ghost of Mary Whiddon is said to linger in Whiddon Park Guest House.

Another tragic shooting occurred during the Civil War, when the local MP, Sydney Godolphin, was shot and killed in the porch of the Three Crowns Inn on High Street. Godolphin was also an accomplished poet, and his ghost is said to haunt the inn where he died.

The 16th-century manor house is now a picturesque inn. Also 16th century is Endecott House, on the market square. Endecott House was a former church house and village school and is named for John Endecott, a Pilgrim Father and governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Endecott lived in Chagford for a time before voyaging to the New World.

Overlooking the town is the neo-Gothic stately home of Drogo Castle, built by Edwin Lutyens for a wealthy industrialist.