The History of Tor Royal
Tor Royal Farm dates from 1785 when Sir Thomas Tyrwhitt with his plan of farming Dartmoor started building his home on the Peat Cott/Whiteworks road. Many of the properties around Tor Royal including the Plume of Feathers Inn were built to accommodate his agricultural workers, grooms and miners. Sir Thomas Tyrwhitt, son of an Essex country vicar, was secretary to the Prince of Wales, later to become George IV, and appointed as auditor to the Duchy of Cornwall in 1786 and later in 1812 as Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod.
Tor Royal Farm is Grade II* listed with a walled courtyard featuring a Bell Tower. The interior boasts a domed ceiling with lantern and an unusual plaster frieze depicting the Princetown Tramway, the plans of which were reputedly drawn up in the house. There is a single storey suite of rooms with a fleur-de-lis frieze and ornately decorated doors obtained from Carlton House in London when it was demolished. The House has arched doorways to the domed reception room and many original Georgian features. A walled garden below the Devonport leat has been roofed over and now houses cattle and sheep in the winter months.
Thomas Tyrwhitt was responsible for building both Dartmoor Prison which was completed in 1808 to house the prisoners of the Napoleonic war and Princetown Tramway in 1825 which serviced the valuable granite quarries of Walkhampton, later to become the Plymouth and Dartmoor line carrying passengers as well as freight in 1883. Although his dream of cultivating areas around Princetown to grow crops other than cattle and sheep have still to be realised.
Tor Royal has remained in Duchy ownership through the years and in the early 1900’s the then Duke of Cornwall took an interest in the breeding of Dartmoor Ponies at Tor Royal Stud registering ownership of 26 Dartmoor Mares. The one notable pony Stallion to be bred at Tor Royal being ’The Leat’ whose breeding was a result of a local Moorland Mare and the Arab Stallion ’Dwarka’. The Leat proved to be a very successful stallion and many of today’s successful Dartmoor ponies have his blood running in their veins.
The Devonport leat flows through the grounds of Tor Royal. Opened in 1793, it was constructed to supply water for Plymouth Docks. It now empties into Burrator Resevoir which sits above Sheepstor Village.