A small moorland outpost dominated by its Napoleonic Prison
Princetown is a village located in the heart of Dartmoor, and its history is closely tied to the development of the nearby Dartmoor Prison, which played a significant role in shaping the village.
In the late 18th century, the prison was established to house French prisoners of war during the Napoleonic Wars. The prison’s construction brought labour and economic activity to the area, leading to the gradual growth of Princetown as a settlement to support the prison staff and their families.
Over the years, the prison’s purpose evolved. It housed criminal convicts in the 19th century, and during World War II, it was used to hold conscientious objectors and later, American and Canadian troops preparing for the D-Day landings.
The prison’s history has had a profound impact on Princetown’s development, as the village grew to accommodate the needs of the prison staff and their families.
Princetown’s growth as a village was closely intertwined with the establishment of the Dartmoor Prison, but it has developed its own unique identity over the years. Today, it serves as a hub for visitors exploring the natural wonders of Dartmoor National Park.
The village features charming stone buildings that reflect its historical roots, and its picturesque setting amid the moorland offers a quiet and serene atmosphere.
Princetown Visitor Centre serves as an excellent starting point for anyone exploring Dartmoor National Park. The centre provides information about local trails, guided tours, and points of interest. It’s a valuable resource for hikers, cyclists, and those interested in learning about the flora, fauna, and geological features of Dartmoor.
The surrounding landscape offers diverse outdoor activities, from gentle walks to more challenging hikes across the moorland, making Princetown and its visitor centre a gateway to experiencing the natural beauty and rich history of Dartmoor.