Lettaford, North Bovey, Devon


Sanders is a rare survival of a near perfect long-house of about 1500 in Lettaford, an ancient settlement on the fringes of Dartmoor, with walks from the door.

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  • Dogs AllowedDogs Allowed
  • CotCot
  • Fire or StoveFire or Stove
  • Open SpaceOpen Space
  • Parking AvailableParking Available
  • Bath with ShowerBath with Shower

Beds 1 Single, 1 Twin, 1 Double

4 nights from
£360 equivalent to £18.00 per person, per night

An ancient hamlet sheltering in a hollow on Dartmoor since the Middle Ages

Absorbing the atmosphere of a past way of life in this ancient farmstead is a rare and special experience; an antidote to the noise and bustle of the modern world. Lettaford is an old settlement and families were living here before 1300. It is like many hamlets, but few remain so secret or complete. Its buildings grouped around a green, some still in active farming use. The public road that takes you there breaks up into tracks up onto the moor. For centuries farmers have grazed their cattle on the rough upland pasture and cultivated crops in the tiny fields lower down. The land yielded a surprisingly good living over the centuries, and their way of life and careful economy was expressed in the longhouses they built to live in at one end, and shelter their cattle at the other.

One of the quiet gems of Landmark’s portfolio

Sanders is a near perfect Dartmoor long-house of about 1500, arranged on the usual plan of inner room and hall on one side of a cross-passage, and shippon (or byre) on the other, all under one roof. A sturdy, shouldered porch originally served as the entrance for both cows and people. The walls are made of blocks of granite ashlar, some of them enormous. This was a house of high quality, but it declined into a labourer’s cottage long enough ago to avoid damaging improvements – its last makeover was probably in the 17th century when a ceiling and chimney were inserted into the open hall. Its ancient spaces are there for everyone to enjoy: for the expert to decode or the novice to wonder at. Dartmoor is outstanding for walkers and explorers; and Lydford Castle, Castle Drogo and Buckfast Abbey are all worth a visit.


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Sanders looks out across the green of the tiny hamlet of Lettaford.

A trip to Dartmoor Prison Museum is an eye-opening experience as you learn about "life inside" through 200 years of history, up until the present day. 

The ancient Buckland Abbey, one hour away in the car, is now part house, part museum, where you can explore its treasures and follow the way-marked trails through the surrounding orchards, meadows and woodlands. Buckfast Abbey, around 30 minutes' drive, is open two days a week. If your stay coincides, find time to visit this peaceful monastery. 

Visit Castle Drogo, "The last castle to be built in England", in the nearby pretty village of Drewsteignton  to see the ongoing conservation projects. Wander through the beautiful, Lutyens-designed garden and along the winding paths leading down into the ancient Teign Gorge.

Climb aboard the steam trains with heritage rolling stock at South Devon Railway in Buckfastleigh and explore in style.

Experience the rainforest atmosphere with beautiful, tropical butterflies and see the playful otters at Buckfast Butterfly Farm

For more information on things to see and do during your stay at Sanders, take a look at our Pinterest page. Discover local walks for dogs with our friends at, the dog walks community.

Please Note: The Landmark Trust does not take any responsibility and makes no warranties, representations or undertakings about the content of any website accessed by hypertext link. Links should not be taken as an endorsement of any kind. The Landmark Trust has no control over the availability of the linked pages.

See all our Landmarks at Lettaford

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What you need to know about this building
  • Yes. You are welcome to bring up to two dogs. A charge of £20 per stay is made for each dog.

    Please contact booking enquiries if you have an assistance dog, for which there is no charge.
  • From a narrow lane / track.
  • Newton Abbot – 15 miles.
  • Yes – there is parking on the green about 10m from the property.
  • There are radiators fed by an air source heat pump and an open fire.
  • Unfortunately, there is no arrangement for the purchase and delivery of logs, however details of local sources will be provided with your order confirmation.
  • Vanessa, our head of communications, reported in April 2021 that mobile signal is very weak in and around Sanders, with no 3G or 4G signal on O2. To check up-to-date mobile network coverage in the area, visit Due to the location and structure of many of our buildings, signal strength may differ to those indicated.
  • The kitchen is fully equipped with all plates, cutlery, fridge etc.
    There is also an electric cooker.

  • There is one bathroom with a shower over the bath.
  • The stairs are steep and narrow.
  • There are open grounds. There are footpaths which run through the hamlet. Please note the unfenced watercourses.
Booking and Payment
  • If the weather is bad, please contact our booking office who will be able to tell you whether the Landmark is accessible. If the housekeeper can safely get to the building to prepare it then we consider that it is open and available for guests. However if we cannot undertake a changeover then we will do our utmost to transfer your stay to another Landmark, depending on what we have available. It may not be of a similar size or in the same part of the country as your original booking. If the building is accessible but the customer cannot travel due to poor weather in his/her local area then please be aware that Landmark will not provide a refund. However the customer may be able to claim on his/her own travel insurance. We recommend that all guests take out travel insurance when they first secure a booking.
  • We accept Maestro (if issued in the UK), Visa, MasterCard, direct transfer and sterling cheques drawn on a UK bank. Cheques should be made payable to the Landmark Trust except for Lundy stays and boat/helicopter tickets which should be payable to The Lundy Company Ltd. All payments must be in sterling.
  • The key arrangements will be included in the Further Infomation document which will be sent to you prior to your stay.
  • If your stay starts more than two months from the date you make the booking, you are required to pay a deposit of one third of the cost of your stay (or £100 per booking, if greater) at the time of booking. Camping on Lundy and The Bunk House at Llwyn Celyn must be paid for in full at the time of booking.
  • If you wish to cancel or change your booking, please contact our Booking Office on 01628 825925
  • At the moment we only accept payment in sterling.
  • Our housekeeper will leave the key in a suitable place, the details of which will be sent to you prior to your stay.
  • It depends. Some of our most popular Landmarks are booked up a long time in advance, but many can be booked at short notice. We will always have Landmarks free for the coming weekend so it’s always worth checking our availability list.
  • No, Landmarks are available to be booked for anyone.
  • No, all the information you need can be found on our website, although we’d like you to buy one anyway as it will be a pleasure to own!
Staying at a Landmark
  • Some of our Landmarks are suitable for people with disabilities or limited mobility. However, many Landmarks have steep or narrow staircases, uneven floors and thresholds, changes of level, low ceilings or beams, as well as indistinct colours on steps and in corridors. We recommend that you call Booking Enquiries on 01628 825925 if you would like to find out the suitability of a particular Landmark for anyone with a specific disability.  Further information on access when visiting Lundy can also be found here.
  • Yes, Landmarks are only available as self-catering accommodation. We do not offer bed and breakfast.
  • Landmark does not provide catering, but we can recommend Greycoat Lumleys who can arrange for expert and well-trained staff to cater for one evening or for your entire holiday. Their cooks and chefs are able to work with you to meet your specific requirements
  • You may bring up to two dogs to properties where dogs are allowed (please see specific property details for exemptions however dogs are not permitted on Lundy except assistance dogs). They must be kept off the furniture and under proper control. A charge of £20 per stay is made for each dog. Please contact booking enquiries if a registered assistance dog is supporting one of the guests, for which there is no charge.
  • Apart from two dogs (see above) no other pets are permitted.
  • Arrival is from 4pm and departure is by 10am.
  • We do not carry insurance for breakages. However we appreciate that accidents do sometimes happen. If you have a breakage during your stay, please let the housekeeper know and if appropriate we reserve the right to invoice you accordingly.
  • Yes, most of our Landmarks are perfect for children, with gardens to play in and secret places to discover. Our furniture is surprisingly robust and we positively encourage families to stay. However, some of our buildings may not be suitable for small children; for example, some of them have steep or uneven spiral staircases. We recommend that you call the Booking Enquiries team if you would like to find out the suitability of any of our Landmarks for young children.
  • Unfortunately, most of our Landmarks are not licensed for weddings. However, you may get married on Lundy.
  • All our larger Landmarks are perfect for gatherings of family or friends. You may invite an additional two guests to visit you during your stay, however they must not stay overnight. This is very important because our fire regulations specifically note the maximum number of people in any one building. In addition our properties are prepared, furnished and equipped for the number of people specified and greater numbers cause damage and excessive wear and tear to vulnerable buildings. Should this condition be ignored we shall make a retrospective charge per person per day (whether or not they stay overnight) for each guest over the permitted limit, the charge being pro-rated on the total cost of your booking.
  • We deliberately do not provide televisions and find that most people appreciate this.
  • One of the challenges of restoring unloved buildings is gaining access to them. We frequently have to negotiate rights with our neighbours and share tracks with them. In many cases tracks do not belong to us and we have no right to maintain them. Wherever possible we work with our neighbours to provide you with a good quality surface, but where this is a problem then you will be warned at the time of booking.
  • Yes, we have standard electricity sockets for UK appliances. If you are coming from outside the UK, you will need to bring your own adaptor plug(s). If you are visiting one of our European properties we have standard European electricity sockets. If you are visiting from the UK, you will need to bring your own adapter plug (s).
  • Landmark’s electrical systems have not been designed to provide continuous power from one socket over several hours.  If an ordinary socket is used to charge an electric vehicle, there is significant risk of an electrical fire and consequent danger to life.  Therefore, we are unable to allow electric vehicle charging from most of our Landmarks at present.

    We are working to provide Type 2 Electric Vehicle charge points at our properties where there is private parking.  Where this is available, please request this facility when booking the property to ensure the outlet is enabled on your arrival.  There is a small charge to cover the cost of electricity provided.  Please book this facility in advance.
  • No, we do not allow smoking in any Landmark.
  • Sometimes our kitchens and bathrooms have to be imaginatively fitted into the available space in buildings where before there were none, but they are all planned and equipped to a high and modern standard.
  • Yes, Landmarks are fully equipped with sheets and towels. All the beds are fully made up for your arrival. Except for the Llwyn Celyn Bunkhouse.
  • Yes, our kitchens are well equipped with cookers and fridges. There are freezers and dishwashers (in larger buildings) and, where space allows, microwaves as well as a wide and standard range of utensils. A full equipment list is available at time of booking.
  • Logs are provided at many of our Landmarks for an additional cost.
  • Mobile coverage varies. Some Landmarks have an excellent signal, but others have none at all. If you are concerned, you can check with the housekeeper before your arrival.
  • No. At the moment, we have decided not to implement Wi-Fi in our buildings following a consultation with our customers. Many said that they would find it useful, but many also felt that it would somehow damage the experience of staying in a Landmark. As the responses were so split, and as we have so many other initiatives requiring funding, we have decided to put this on hold for the time being.
    Except at Llwyn Celyn Bunk House where a password is available in the property when you arrive.
  • A welcome tray with tea and sugar awaits your arrival and you will find a pint of milk in the fridge. We also provide toilet rolls and a bar of soap per basin, but no other toiletries. Hairdryers are provided.

Do you have other questions?

Our Booking Enquiries team can help with information about each building.

Booking Enquiries
01628 825925
[email protected]

Opening hours
Monday to Friday 9am – 5pm


Built in about 1500

When it was built in about 1500, Sanders contained, firstly, a hall open to the roof. At the lower end of the hall, beyond a timber screen, was a cross-passage with a door at either end; and beyond that again a shippon, or cow-byre, partly floored in to provide a hay loft. At roof level, the building formed a single space from one gable to the other.

The fine granite ashlar of the front and east gable demonstrates the relatively high social status of its builders. It was thought at first that when built it had the further refinement of an inner room at the upper end of the hall, with a chamber above it. Doubt was cast on this theory in 1977, when during restoration it was revealed that the roof truss into which the chamber partition fits had smoke blackening on both sides. The partition, and there- fore the chamber, were shown to be a later insertion. It followed that the stone wall, which supports the chamber, was also likely to be an insertion. Michael Laithwaite, investigating, concluded that "the massive boulders at its base are not bedrock but a structural peculiarity, and it appears not to be bonded into the front wall of the house".

Just possibly the wall was built on the line of an earlier low partition or screen, similar to that between hall and cross-passage. Peter Beacham has found enough evidence of inner rooms divided from the main body of the hall in this way to identify the arrangement as a regular first phase in the development of the rural house in Devon, as he describes it in a chapter on Local Building Traditions in Archaeology of the Devon Landscape (1980).

Such an inner room could have been a dairy. Alternatively, it could have been a parlour, as indeed it became later. W.G. Hoskins, for one, would favour the latter, it being his fond belief, as stated in Old Devon, that:

"the fundamental improvement in the dwelling house, its development into two rooms from the original one, was due to the need for some privacy for the women of the household. Left to themselves the majority of men would go on living in one room until doomsday."

As first built, there was no chimney in the hall. The fire was lit on a central hearth, the smoke from which gathered among the rafters, and seeped out between the thatch with which the building was then roofed.

Three roof trusses survive, two of them visible in the central bedroom: one, with straight principals, perhaps always marked a division between hall and inner room. The second is a raised cruck truss. Crucks are cut from the trunk and projecting branch of a tree, so that they are curved in the middle. A full cruck reaches from the apex of the roof to the ground, but in a stone building there is no need for that, and the curved end is buried in the wall.

The third truss, another raised cruck complete with smoke blackening, can be seen over the lower side of the cross-passage, just beyond the partition enclosing the end bedroom. The shippon has been reroofed, but it too probably once had raised crucks, and there is evidence of a half-hipped end gable. The beams of the hayloft survive, as does the loading door, together with the ventilation slits, the drain down the middle, with the drain-hole at the lower end, and even the sockets for the stall-posts to which the cows were tethered.

The division between hall and shippon was very rudimentary, just a post- and-panel screen between the main area of the hall and the passage, of which one section survives. There does not seem to have been any screen at all on the lower side of the passage, there being no mortice slots in the underside of the beam in that position. The present partition is of much later date.

All the above is straightforward, and in line with other buildings of similar date and type. There are two areas of less certainty. The first is the date of the porch. This is not bonded in with the walls of the house, but is of similar granite ashlar, and has the same shouldered arch as the door between cross-passage and hall, of which one jamb is original. Alcock, Child and Laithwaite decided that the porch, too, was original, and Peter Beacham, in various articles and in The Buildings of England: Devon, agrees with them, as do the authors of the DoE Lists. W.O. Collier, however, Senior Investigator for the Historic Buildings Council, thought it a later addition, because it bonded in with the masonry of the projection containing the present staircase.

The second debated question is whether the separate shippon door is original or, as in most cases, a later insertion made as men began to wish for some further separation between themselves and their cows. Alcock et al. could find no evidence of it being inserted, but left the question open. The DoE Listing officer thought it original. Mr Collier tended to favour it as an insertion, of the same date as the porch - late 16th century. Peter Beacham, too, has come down in favour of insertion.

The next stage in the development of Sanders came later in the 16th century (the lists say mid-, others say late-), when some major alterations and improvements were made. Most important was the insertion of upper chambers at either end of the still open hall, providing more private sleeping space. On the evidence found in 1977, a stone wall was now built between hall and inner room, and on this rested the floor and partition of the chamber, which projected into the hall as an internal jetty: the joists, with their rounded ends, are clearly visible. Old wattle and daub survives in the partition which rests on them. Access to the chamber would have been by a ladder from the hall. There was no staircase at that date.

The second upper chamber was inserted above the cross-passage and like the first one, was jettied out into the hall. On the upper side of the passage, the floor joists rested on the earlier screen. Access, again, was probably by a ladder-stair from the hall, presumably against the north wall.

Evidence for another addition of this date lies in the projection on the south face, next to the porch. This is generally accepted as the chimney for a lateral hall fireplace added at the same time as the upper chambers. All traces of such a fireplace have disappeared, however, and the Lists suggest that it may have been a stair from the beginning. If so, it would then belong to the next phase of alteration, which followed in the 17th century.

In this next phase, a new chimney was built across the end of the hall, backing onto the cross-passage. The existence of a chimney made the lofty roof-space unnecessary, and so the hall was now floored in, to create a third upper chamber. Assuming there to have been an earlier lateral fireplace (and it would be surprising for a house of this status to continue with only an open fire for so long), this was now adapted to provide a stair to the upper floor, with a bread oven beside it. At about the same period, a lean-to was added at the back of the hall, which Mrs Harvey confirms was a dairy, in use until 1942; and fireplaces were added in the parlour and the chamber above.

Inevitably a number of alterations were made later, particularly in the 18th and 19th centuries. Most noticeable has been the raising of the roofs of both shippon and dwelling, adapting them to a shallower pitch for slate. To judge from patches of inferior masonry, there has been some rebuilding of walls too. New window openings have been made, or existing ones enlarged. Two early window embrasures survive in the north wall, where they were blocked by the addition of the dairy. Doors were repaired and replaced. A new staircase, against the north wall of the hall, replaced that in the old chimney, which then became a cupboard. Fortunately, such alterations have all been minor. In its essentials Sanders remains the house it had become by 1700.

The farm-buildings that were an essential accompaniment to the house have been more extensively rebuilt and renewed. Only part of the small barn behind the house dates from the 16th century; mostly it is 18th-century. The linhey, stable and pig-houses are later still, probably all dating from the 19th century. The linhey was later adapted for milking, but according to Mrs Harvey, in the 1930s the Sanders cows were milked in the larger yard behind. This yard, with its large hay-barn, now belongs to Southmeads, but until 1942 it belonged to Sanders. It was probably added in the late 18th or early 19th century, at a time when ideas of new, more productive methods of agriculture were filtering through to hill-farms such as this.

A short history of Sanders

The full history of Lettaford

Download the children's Explorer pack for Sanders


Landmark acquired the building in 1976

Plans for the repair of Sanders had already been drawn up when the Landmark Trust acquired the building in 1976. Work began in 1977, under the supervision of Paul Pearn, of the firm of Pearn and Proctor of Plymouth. The builders were Blight and Scoble, Building Contractors and Undertakers of Buckfastleigh.

One of the first priorities was to improve the drainage of water around the site. Land drains were inserted on both sides, and another runs under the kitchen, to encourage water that previously flowed past the doors to remain under the surface. Some difficulty was experienced due to the fact that the ground was in places solid granite. At the same time, the area of granite paving in front of the porch was uncovered, separating Sanders from the green. The wall enclosing a small garden area in front of the house was repaired. Later, an electricity pole which stood in the middle of the green was taken down, and the electricity supply for the hamlet brought in by underground cables, so that the green was not marred by unsightly criss-crossing wires.

On the building itself, the roof was the most urgent job. The roof of the house had been renewed not all that long before with asbestos slates, but the shippon roof was full of holes. The covering was stripped off completely, porch and lean-to included. Battens and rafters were repaired or replaced as necessary, and then random Delabole slates were laid, in diminishing courses. The porch needed a new wall plate. The gable end between dwelling and shippon had been slate-hung, but this was now rendered, with lead flashings.

The walls were not in need of major repair. A certain amount of ivy had to be cleaned off the north, or rear, wall. Small areas of rebuilding were needed, in the south wall of the porch, for instance, which included the replacement in granite of a previous brick repair; and over the loading door of the shippon; but for the most part it was only necessary to rake out defective pointing, and repoint with lime mortar. The chimneys were also repointed, and the granite cap of the hall chimney repaired; brick tops were replaced with slate cappings.

The main door surround had been repaired with a thick layer of cement. This was hacked off, and the jambs and head rebuilt or made good as necessary. The frames of all the outside doors were repaired, and the doors themselves.

Sanders during restoration

Over the window in the shippon, a new oak lintol was inserted. The windows in the lean-to also needed new lintols, and new window frames. All the other window frames were repaired. Drip moulds were provided over those on the front, being most exposed to the weather, to shed the copious Dartmoor rain.

Inside the cross-passage, the masonry of the chimney stack was cleaned and repointed. The plank partition on its lower side was repaired. In the shippon, apart from the clearance of accumulated rubbish, nothing was done at all.

In the dwelling, some alterations were made, however. The first of these was the removal of the stair that had been inserted against the North wall. This allowed the repair of the oak post and panel screen, and the doorway in it. One muntin was found wedged in above the jetty beam, and so was put back in its right place, and the jetty beam repaired as well. In addition to parts of the screen itself, one door jamb was renewed, copying the existing original, and the sill beam also had to be renewed. The door itself is new.

A new timber stair was then built in the 17th-century position, in the supposed Elizabethan chimney breast, which had latterly been a cupboard. The solid treads are chestnut, and the newel posts, balusters and handrail are oak. The marks of the original, probably stone, treads could be seen in the plaster. The small window was discovered while work was in progress.

The other alteration inside the house was to take up the existing screed floor in the present kitchen, and to lay a new slate-paved floor at the same level as the hall, which meant lowering it a few inches, and underpinning the walls at this end, since they rested on the ground where the original builders followed the slope of the hill. The Bungalow Belle stove was dismantled and reassembled in the same position, but at the new level. A new floor of quarry tiles was also laid in the lean-to, where a new bathroom replaced the existing one. The lintol of the door to the lean-to also had to be renewed, and the frame and door repaired, as were those to the kitchen.

Downstairs, all that remained to be done was to remove existing plaster, to reveal the fine masonry of the walls, which were repointed and then limewashed. The back wall of the fireplace was exposed, where it had been plastered over, and the bread oven repaired. The two former window openings were discovered in the north wall, and left as niches. The purpose of the niches in the wall between hall and inner room is unknown. The little corner cupboard in the hall came with the house, and was repaired by Blight and Scoble's joiner, who also made the dresser for the kitchen.

The ceiling in the hall, which is lath and plaster, was simply made good where necessary, but in the kitchen a new plaster ceiling replaced recently inserted flaxboard, both there and in the bedroom above.

Upstairs, all the ceilings were removed, and reformed to follow the line of the roof, with insulation above. In the small bedroom, insulation was put under the floor as well, and in the partition between it and the shippon. Oak boards were laid directly on the joists of the cross-passage ceiling, then the insulation, and then new softwood boards. The floorboards in the other two rooms are the old elm ones, repaired where necessary, and with a new section where the stair used to come up into the middle room. The removal of the stair also meant that the partition with the small bedroom needed making up, where it had been cut away to provide headroom.

Plaster was removed from the main trusses, to leave them visible in the middle room, or upper hall. Here you can see both the early crucks, and the later principal rafters, inserted when slate replaced the original thatch.

In the large bedroom, the fireplace was opened up and provided with a new granite lintol. The walls were limewashed, as they had always been, the colour matching as closely as possible the former rich golden shade.

In the yard behind the house, the outbuildings were also in need of repair. The walls of the linhay, stable and pigsty were all rebuilt and repointed, and the roof of the linhay made good. The barn was in the worst condition, and had been given a corrugated iron roof. When the collapsing walls had been rebuilt, it was given a new roof of Devon wheat reed thatch. The thatcher was Mr Warren, of Lower Venton Farm, Widecombe.

The work on the main house was completed, and the dwelling furnished, in March 1978. The only hitch had come from a neighbouring farmer who had acquired ownership of the green some years before from the Lees of Higher Lettaford. In spite of the fact that previous owners of Sanders had repaired the roof, and stood their scaffolding on the green without anyone minding, he raised every objection possible to Landmark's scaffolding being erected thereon, and the builders standing any materials or equipment there, finally issuing an injunction requiring it all to be cleared away. He was very unwilling to allow access to Sanders at all, but after protracted and Dickensian legal negotiations, Landmark finally acquired the green in front of Sanders, and down to the stream, in 1987.

When they wrote their article on Sanders in 1972, Alcock, Child and Laithwaite stated in their introduction that "impending modernisation will inevitably conceal, if not destroy, some significant features". Sadly this has indeed been the case with all too many long-houses that survived in tact until after the War, only to fall victim to modernisation in the last few decades. But happily it has not, after all, been the case at Sanders.

Availability & booking

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What's a changeover day? and Why can't I select other dates?Explain MoreQuestion

A changeover day is a particular day of the week when holidays start and end at our properties. These tend to be on a Friday or a Monday but can sometimes vary. All stays run from one changeover day until another changeover day.