Fore Street, Okehampton
Okehampton shown within Devon
|OS grid reference|
|– London||201 miles (323 km)|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|Police||Devon and Cornwall|
|Fire||Devon and Somerset|
|EU Parliament||South West England|
|UK Parliament||Torridge and West Devon|
Okehampton is a town and civil parish in West Devon in the English county of Devon. It is situated at the northern edge of Dartmoor, and has an estimated population of 5,700. This increased to 7,160 at the 2011 census. Two electoral wards are based in the town (east and west). Their joint population at the same census is 7,500.
Okehampton was founded by the Saxons. The earliest written record of the settlement is from 980 AD as "Ocmundtune", meaning settlement by the Ockment, a river which runs through the town. It was recorded as a place for slaves to be freed at cross roads.
Like many towns in the West Country, Okehampton grew on the medieval wool trade. Notable buildings in the town include the 15th century chapel of St. James and Okehampton Castle, which was established by the Norman Sheriff of Devon, Baldwin FitzGilbert(d.1090).
Okehampton was the caput of a large feudal barony, which at the time of the Domesday Book was held by Baldwin FitzGilbert. After his death in 1090 the tenure of the barony is obscure for the next twenty years after which it was held by the heiress Maud d'Avranches until her death in 1173, which passed to her daughter, Hawise de Curci (died 1219), who married Reginald de Courtenay. His French possessions were confiscated by the French King Louis VII, but were given, together with the marriage of his daughter Elizabeth de Courtenay, to his youngest brother Peter I of Courtenay. The Courtenay family rebuilt Okehampton Castle, until King Henry VIII seized the lands and had Henry Courtenay, 1st Marquess of Exeter executed for treason in 1539. Presently, the castle is owned by English Heritage and is open to the public during the summer season. The town is also home to the Museum of Dartmoor Life, which has received notable visitors such as Prince Charles.
There is a substantial army training camp on Dartmoor which can be reached via Okehampton, and is commonly referred to as "Okehampton Camp". It is managed by the Defence Training Estate, and used by a variety of military units, including the Commando Training Centre Royal Marines (CTCRM), Lympstone, Devon, and many cadet training units. The Ten Tors event is run by the Army each year in early May from Okehampton Camp.
Schools in the town include Okehampton Primary School and Okehampton College. There are also a number of smaller primary schools in the surrounding areas for children within the catchment area of Okehampton that include South Tawton, Hatherleigh, Chagford, North Tawton and Bridestowe.
The town's football team, Okehampton Argyle, is a non-league club which was established in 1926 after the original side, Okehampton Town, disbanded. The club competes in the South West Peninsula League which sits at Steps 6 and 7 of the National League System; four leagues below the top division of non-league football, the Football Conference. The town also has a rugby club, Okehampton RFC, which is believed to have been founded in 1884.
Okehampton's location at the edge of the moor means that it has always been a route centre. After years of uncertainty, the A30 trunk road was finally re-routed in 1988 to bypass the town, which had previously acted as a holiday traffic bottleneck at summer weekends. Okehampton railway station is on the former northerly rail route from Exeter to Plymouth via Tavistock. The line from Exeter remains open for freight traffic to and from Meldon Quarry, two miles (3 km) west of Okehampton. In summer, and at weekends throughout the year, the Dartmoor Railway operates a heritage railway service between Okehampton and Meldon Quarry.
In 1997, Devon County Council revived a passenger rail service from Exeter, on summer weekends only, in an attempt to reduce motor traffic to the national park. In March 2010, the freight operator Devon & Cornwall Railways announced plans to reinstate a daily passenger service terminating in Exeter, but this has yet to happen.
In the wake of widespread disruption caused by damage to the mainline track at Dawlish by coastal storms in February 2014, leaving Plymouth and Cornwall with no rail connection to the rest of the country, Network Rail are considering reopening the Exeter-to-Plymouth route via Okehampton and Tavistock.
Okehampton is served by various bus services from Exeter, Bude, Newquay and Tavistock. Stagecoach service 6 links from Exeter Bus station via Exeter St Davids to Okehampton and then to Bude. Other services from Exeter Bus station include the 6A service via Exeter St Davids, which continues to Launceston.
Okehampton is surrounded by many smaller villages and towns. Notable examples are the villages of South Zeal with its ancient burgage plots, granite thatched cottages and Dartmoor Folk Festival; Belstone, noted for its location on the very outskirts of Dartmoor and links to Agatha Christie's The Sittaford Mystery; and Sticklepath which has an annual fire show on Bonfire Night, 5 November. Other nearby villages and settlements include Folly Gate, Northlew, Jacobstowe, Bridestowe and Sourton.
- WDBC : West Devon Facts and Figures. Westdevon.gov.uk. Retrieved on 15 July 2012.
- "Okehampton West ward 2011". Retrieved 17 February 2015.
- "Okehampton East ward 2011". Retrieved 17 February 2015.
- Okehampton Town Council. Okehampton.gov.uk. Retrieved on 5 March 2011.
- The medieval wool trade. World Timelines. Retrieved on 5 March 2011.
- Some Descendants of the BRIONNE Family Related to George Washington 1st US President. Washington.ancestryregister.com. Retrieved on 5 March 2011.
- Sanders, I.J., English Baronies, Oxford, 1960, pp.69-70, Okehampton
- OKEHAMPTON CASTLE profile at Pastscape.english-heritage.org.uk; retrieved on 5 March 2011.
- Ten Tors 2011. Events.exeter.ac.uk. Retrieved on 5 March 2011.
- Okehampton Argyle Okehampton Argyle
- Okehampton RFC Google
- "DNP fact sheet on the Okehampton Bypass". Dartmoor National Park Authority. Retrieved 29 September 2015.
- Joint, Laura. (29 March 2010) http://news.bbc.co.uk/local/devon/hi/people_and_places/newsid_8587000/8587489.stm BBC – Okehampton to Exeter railway line back on track]. BBC News. Retrieved on 2011-03-05.
- "Network Rail chooses Dawlish alternative route". BBC News. 10 February 2014. Retrieved 10 February 2014.
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