HOC.Place.Art.5 Ian Hudson

Country: England

Region (County/State / Province): Devon

Website: www.hoaroakcottage.org

Contact: Bette Baldwin

Photo Credit: With permission of Ian Hudson. Painting of Hoar Oak Cottage in its original state.

Study Description 

In 1999, it was proposed to demolish Hoar Oak Cottage – a remote shepherds cottage high in the Exmoor hills which is now owned and cared for by the Exmoor National Park Authority. It had been used as a shepherd’s cott since medieval times and a full time home to shepherd families since the 1800s. Two descendants of one of those families worked with the Exmoor National Park Authority who eventually agreed to preserve it as a heritage ruin. The two descendants set up the Friends of Hoar Oak Cottage heritage organisation to find, preserve and share the history and heritage of the place, the people and the life. A successful HLF grant kicked off this work and the Friends of Hoar Oak Cottage have continued since then to do its work to understand this ‘one place’ on Exmoor and share it with others. 

Hoar Oak Cottage is located in a remote if beautiful part of Exmoor. There is no road or track to it and there has never been electricity, gas, telephone, plumbing or any other ‘convenience’. The last inhabitants were removed in the 1960s by the Park Authority and the way they lived mirrored very closely how the first inhabitants lived. 

The Friends aim is to understand and share what real life was like at Hoar Oak Cottage. The theme they have taken for their work is understanding and sharing ‘the reality of remoteness’ to counterbalance the notion of the cottage as a ‘rural idyll’. The management committee of the Friends are all descendants of the shepherd families and they continue to do research, put on exhibitions, give talks, undertake ‘walks and talks’. Their current ambitions are around finding the funding and resources to begin making ‘Virtual Visits’ using drones and audio visual equipment to enable anyone to see Hoar Oak Cottage and the landscape it sits in. Currently, the cottage can only be reached by several miles walk across open and often difficult moorland terrain and The Friends wish to make the cottage accessible to all through virtual visits.

Timeframe

Medieval to present day.

Population

None specified

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