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Okehampton Camp: Building 94 (formerly Officers' Quarters)

A Grade II Listed Building in Okehampton Hamlets, Devon

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Coordinates

Latitude: 50.718 / 50°43'4"N

Longitude: -4.0029 / 4°0'10"W

OS Eastings: 258705

OS Northings: 92841

OS Grid: SX587928

Mapcode National: GBR Q2.J3L6

Mapcode Global: FRA 27H5.Y2X

Entry Name: Okehampton Camp: Building 94 (formerly Officers' Quarters)

Listing Date: 5 February 2015

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1421718

Location: Okehampton Hamlets, West Devon, Devon, EX20

County: Devon

District: West 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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Summary

A terrace of four pairs of officers' quarters built in 1894, situated in the south part of Okehampton Camp, close to the boundary fence, with the tented campsite immediately to its north.

Description

A terrace of four pairs of officers' quarters built in 1894 to a design by James Julian, a War Office contractor working to specifications outlined in the Royal Engineers Regulations of 1892, situated in the south part of Okehampton Camp, close to the boundary fence, with the tented campsite immediately to its north.

MATERIALS: slate stone block work with brick quoins to the corners and window openings, the latter with granite window cills and entrance threshold. Gable ends and rear of the building has now been rendered and painted. Main roof, including that to the porches, is pitched and covered in slate with plain timber barge boards to the gable ends (both recently replaced). Former chimney stacks to each pair now no longer there.

PLAN: each pair with identical layout; a central corridor with an officer's bedroom on either side and servant's cleaning room to the rear. Later infill of 1971 to house a toilet block and a flat roofed extension at its east end to house a boiler (*these are not of special interest).

EXTERIOR: each pair has a front porch, with a small window and entrance to the side, flanked to the right by two windows. Similar window arrangement to the rendered rear elevation. All windows are recent (2014) uPVC replacements and the front doors are GRP. The building stands on a slightly raised, stone paved platform with curved corners and granite curbs, following the footprint of the building. This forms a continuous path around the building with cut outs for small grassed rectangular areas to the front of each pair. Next to each entrance is a cast-iron boot scraper (two are missing their horizontals), fixed into the paving.

INTERIOR: plain interior with modest architectural detailing surviving in the hall. Timber panelled glazed door, with four pane light above gives access to the former servant's room to the rear.

* Pursuant to s.1 (5A) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 (‘the Act’) it is declared that these aforementioned features are not of special architectural or historic interest.

History

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 and 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 former Officers' Quarters, now known as Building 94, was built in 1894, south of the tented campsite, to a scaled, hand-drawn plan with elevations dating from 1892 by the War Office contractor James Julian, to specifications outlined in paragraph 1151 of the Royal Engineers Regulations of 1892. The plan shows a terrace of four identical pairs of accommodation for two officers, each with a servants' kitchen to the rear, thus housing eight officers in total. According to the plan, the central corridor to each pair was to be paved in tesselated tiles, with each of the officer's rooms having its own fireplace and built-in cupboard and wardrobe. The L-shaped servant's kitchen to the rear housed a range with large built in cupboard.

Reasons for Listing

Building 94, the former Officers’ Quarters of 1894 at Okehampton Artillery Camp, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

* Historic interest: it is one of the key buildings of the earliest phase within the Royal Artillery Training Camp at Okehampton, which played an important role in the advancement of new military techniques and tactics from the late C19, it has strong cultural and historical significance, within both a local and national context;
* 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 94 is one;
* Architectural interest: it is an interesting example of late C19 domestic military quarters designed and built to standard specifications that are well executed, use good quality, strong materials, express confidence and are competent for their purpose;
* 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 overall the building survives well;
* Group value: it forms an important 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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