This article originally appeared in Strangehaven issue issue #13, June 2001.
Just on the northwest edge of the national park of Dartmoor in Devonshire, England lies the charming, picturesque village of Dunsford. Unlike many of Dartmoor’s famous villages like Chagford and Widdecombe, the main thoroughfare bypasses Dunsford, making this hidden delight surprisingly quiet.
But readers of Strangehaven may find certain aspects of the village rather familiar, particularly views of the church as you enter on one of the three single-track roads leading to the main street. This is not surprising as Dunsford was one of the initial inspirations for Strangehaven. Much of the layout of the fictional village is based on the real one, although many buildings have been substituted or added.
During my many return trips to Dunsford for research purposes, I have taken many photographs, but not nearly as many as the residents of Dunsford themselves did in 1999. As part of a millennium project, the people of the village took over 1000 photographs in the year leading up to the year 2000 of every aspect of village life including bell-ringing, sheep dipping and the annual pancake race.
A special exhibition was held over the August bank holiday weekend of 2000 at Dunsford Village Hall with 70 framed prints and 1100 other photos presented in albums all taken during 1999. An appeal for historic photographs of the village was answered with many old photographs supplied by local residents also on display.
One of the men behind the project and member of Dunsford’s Millennium committee, Roger Hodge said, “We are privileged to live in the Teign Valley and it has been a tremendous achievement to leave a permanent record for future generations. We only wish someone had done this at the end of the last century.”
It’s hoped that eventually the majority of photographs will be scanned and captioned for a CD-ROM record of the project.
Roger Hodge also took the original photograph on which the cover of Strangehaven: Brotherhood is based, which I sadly neglected to credit him for on the first printing of the trade paperback. Roger and his wife Shirley also run one of the few Bed and Breakfast houses in Dunsford, the charming Oak Lodge. Having stayed there myself, I can heartily recommend it to all, if only for Shirley’s award-winning breakfasts! For those of you who are planning on visiting Devon and Dartmoor and are brave enough to spend the night in the “real” Strangehaven, then you can contact them via their website [redacted] or write for a brochure to; [redacted]
But be warned; once you visit Dunsford, you may never be able to leave.
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