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Princetown

(4.3/5 based on 550+ reviews for 3 attractions)
Things to do: museums, sightseeing
Princetown is a village situated in the Dartmoor national park in the English county of Devon. It is the principal settlement of the civil parish of Dartmoor Forest.The village has its origins in 1785, when Sir Thomas Tyrwhitt, Secretary to the Prince of Wales, leased a large area of moorland from the Duchy of Cornwall estate, hoping to convert it into good farmland. He encouraged people to live in the area and suggested that a prison be built there. He called the settlement Princetown after the Prince of Wales.Princetown is the site of Dartmoor Prison. At around 435 metres (1,430 feet) above sea level, it is the highest settlement on the moor, and one of the highest in the United Kingdom. It is also the largest settlement located on the high moor. The Princetown Railway, closed in 1956, was also the highest railway line in England, its Princetown terminus being 435m above sea level.HistoryIn 1780, a farm was reclaimed on the site of an ancient tenement near the Two Bridges, and in 1785, Sir Thomas Tyrwhitt set about improving the moor at a place which he named Tor Royal (present day Tor Royal farm), about 1km south-east of Princetown. He made an estate and built a house in 1798. Later the road from Tavistock to Princetown was built, as well as the other roads that now cross the Moor.He also proposed that a prison be built on Dartmoor to house the thousands of captives of the Napoleonic Wars and the later War of 1812, who had become too numerous to lodge in the prisons and prison-ships at Plymouth. The site was given by the Prince of Wales, who held the lands of the Duchy of Cornwall to which all the Moor belonged. This is why the settlement is named Princetown. Dartmoor Prison was built in 1806 at a cost of £130,000 and at one time had a capacity between 7,000 and 9,000 prisoners.
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