Whitchurch Down is located to the West of the town of Tavistock and in total covers over 460 Acres.
The Town Council is the holder of 'Manorial Rights' (essentially freehold and mineral rights, subject to old leases and commoners rights) over the 460 Acres of Whitchurch Down both within and without the Dartmoor National Park boundary. These rights were purchased from the Bedford Estate in 1964 for the sum of £750 (£10,503 at today’s values). 250 acres of this land is directly maintained by the Tavistock Town Council while the rest is leased to The Trustees of Tavistock Golf Club and the Trustees of Tavistock Cricket Club.
Whitchurch Down is popular with both local and visiting public and a number of rights of way and car parks are managed and maintained by the Town Council.
Whitchurch Down is registered Common Land and livestock grazing is overseen by the Whitchurch Commoners Association. On the north side of Whitchurch Down is an area designated a SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest).
Tavistock Town Council plays a lead role in protecting and shaping the future of Whitchurch Down and recognises the importance of the area for the local community, the many varied recreational uses, the rights of the commoners and the intrinsic value of the natural habitat that it provides.
In partnership with the following groups the Council seeks to manage the downland area for the enjoyment of all by restricting the use of the land to purposes compatible with the environment and grazing rights whilst maximising the recreational, leisure and tourist potential.
• Tavistock Golf Club - In occupation since 1890, in May 1957 two thirds of the Down was formally leased to Tavistock Golf Club for 99 years at a peppercorn rental of £10 a year.
• Tavistock Cricket Club - Since 1849 the Tavistock Cricket Club has had use of the cricket pitch on the Down known as ‘the Ring’, last confirmed in writing in 1920, for 25p a year.
• Commoners - The Town Council works in close co-operation with the Whitchurch Down Commoners’ Association to ensure that the area is managed sensitively and to the overall benefit of all users.
• The owners of the ‘Pimple’ - In 2000 an anonymous benefactor purchased the “Pimple” from South West Water and has agreed to maintain it for the benefit of the general public.
For more information please download the Draft Whitchurch Down Management Plan 2016-2020.