Okehampton is an agricultural market town on Dartmoor. It is rural – but it is certainly not isolated from the rest of the world.

In the 1990s, a ‘cist’ (a prehistoric burial box) was discovered at White Horse Hill, a North Dartmoor site in the vicinity of the town. A later archaeological dig revealed the cremated remains of a young adult female. Amongst the grave goods in the cist were Baltic amber beads. This was an important discovery, which suggests that Dartmoor has always been connected to the wider world – even 4000 years ago.

Explore the timeline below to learn more about the town’s multicultural heritage.

The beginnings of Okehampton

1st January 0980

Okehampton began as an Anglo Saxon settlement.

Norman invaders and All Saints Church

1st January 1440

Early evidence suggests that Normans and Irish were living and working in the town.

Napoleonic Prisoners of War arrived in the town 

1st May 1809

During the Napoleonic Wars, Okehampton was a parole town, housing Prisoners of War.

Okehampton’s connections with the slave trade

1st January 1820

No records have been found to suggest that Black people lived in Okehampton. However, evidence of reparations reveal that Okehampton citizens invested in, and profited from, the transatlantic slave trade.

Okehampton in the First World War

28th July 1914

Both Prisoners of War and refugees found a place to stay in Okehampton during the First World War. 

Meldon Glassworks employs skilled European workers

1st January 1921

In 1921, Granulite Works Glass Company opened a quarry at Meldon. To produce the best glass possible, they recruited German and Dutch workers.

World War II in Belstone

1st January 1940

American soldiers were stationed around Belstone, a small village South East of Okehampton,

German Prisoners of War arrive in Bridestowe

6th June 1944

German Prisoners Of War arrived in the Okehampton area shortly after D-day, in June 1944. 

Okehampton hosts the Polish Navy in exile

1st December 1944

December 1944 – March 1947 During World War II the Polish Navy in exile was based in Britain. In 1944, the Naval Warrant Officer School moved to Okehampton, from Devonport […]

Polish Naval Camp transitions into a centre for the Polish Resettlement Corps 

1st February 1947

After the war, the Polish Naval Camp continued to operate, this time serving as a resettlement centre for Polish men and women seeking to build new lives in the UK.

Commonwealth cadet training tragedy

1st November 1967

In the midst of a terrible storm on 1st of November 1967, Cadet Christopher Pyemont arrived at the door of Okehampton solicitor Frank Woodward.

Diversity increases with workers and visitors from all over the globe

1st January 1976

In the 1970s, workers, business owners and visitors came to Okehampton from Spain, Italy, the Middle East and Russia.

Vietnemese and Cambodian refugees come to Okehampton

1st January 1981

In 1981, 16 people, from several families, were offered refuge in Okehampton after fleeing the Communist takeover of Vietnam.