The twenty-eighth event in a series of monthly events taking place in different squares of the Dartmoor 365; the square the event is chosen at random by raffle at each event. The square pulled out for this month is G3 Lyrdford Village. The event will start at around midday at the given co-ordinates for geo-chat, TB exchanging etc. People are free to come and go as they please. Lala and I will be there until around 11am, but depending on the weather/attendees it may go on for longer.
Lydford Village is a lovely location but we didn't want to pass up the opportunity to hold the event at Lydford Castle, a medieval castle, within the village. The first castle was a small ringwork built in the corner of the Anglo-Saxon fortified burh, sometimes referred to as the Norman Fort. It was intended to help control Devon following the widespread revolt against Norman rule in 1068. The fort had been abandoned by the middle of the 12th century. The second castle was constructed in 1195 following a wave of law and order problems across England. It included a stone tower with a surrounding bailey and soon became used as a prison and court to administer the laws in the Forest of Dartmoor and the Devon stannaries. The tower was rebuilt during the 13th century, probably in the 1260s by Richard, the Earl of Cornwall. It was redeisgned to resemble a motte and bailey castle.In 1342 the castle, which was still being used a prison and courtroom, was passed to the Duchy of Cornwall who owned it until the 20th century.
The castle has been renovated and then left to deteriorate repeatedly over time. Nonetheless the castle played an important part in stannary and forest administration until the 19th century (other than a period during the English Civil War and the Restoration in the 17th century). The castle acquired a bad reputation for injustice in the 14th century, and complaints about "Lydford Law" persisted for centuries. In the early 19th century, however, Dartmoor Prison was constructed and Lyrdford ceased to be the centre for legal administration and by the middle of the century the castle had fallen into ruin.
In 1932 the castle passed into the hands of the state and is currently run by English Heritage as a tourist attraction. It is architecurally significant as being one of the earliest examples of a "purpose-built gaol" in England. The earthworks of the Norman fort are owned by the National Trust and are also open to the public.