Bearslake Inn - A Short History

The oldest part of the Inn, the bar and the first room to the left when you enter through the front door, are thought to date back to the 13th Century.

The original building is a Devon Longhouse. The longhouse is a dual purpose building providing human and animal shelter under a common roof. What is now the bar would have once been the Shippen or animal accommodation. The cows would have been tethered with their heads to the outside walls; a central drain ran down the middle of the room to a hole in the outer wall. The entrance hall is part of the original Cross Passage comprising a front and back door, separating the human accommodation which would have been to the left of the main door and is now the first of the family rooms.

The first longhouse would not have had chimneys or any first floor accommodation. The fire would have been in the main room with the smoke going straight up into the thatch.

The original building was extended in the 16th and 17th centuries. At which time the chimneys, the parlour wing and first floor accommodation were added.

The Stable Restaurant is the newest part of the building having been added in the 1980's. For most of its life Bearslake has been a working farm or small holding. By the 1930's it had been divided into three cottages. It was not until 1959 that Bearslake was converted from cottages to firstly a tea room and then a public house.

The conversion was managed by the first Licensee Mr Joe Sweet who purchased what was then a dilapidated farm building. Joe and his family set about the task of knocking the three cottages into one building and introducing for the first time mains water, gas and electricity.

Bearslake Inn initially opened as a tea room to serve the growing number of tourists enchanted by this quaint thatched building with roses round the door.

The building itself is very picturesque and many tourists still stop to take a picture. Bearslake is a Grade 2 listed building and as such we are striving to protect the authenticity of the original features. It is our intention to complete a programme of works in consultation with the Dartmoor National Park Authority to protect and enhance the beauty of Bearslake Inn.

Many people ask us where the name comes from; this is as much of the story as we have been able to piece together so far. Bear or be-re comes from the old Devon word meaning wooded place. Lake is the hamlet where the farm is located; so the original name may have meant the wooded place in Lake. Why Lake? One theory dates back to the Civil war. The two nearby villages of Sourton and Bridestowe were divided one supporting the Royalists and the other the Parliamentarians. The story goes that there was a big battle between then two villages resulting in so many deaths that the area was a lake of blood. There is certainly no evidence of any other form of lake ever having been here.

Role of Licensees:

  • 1956 - 1974 Joe Sweet
  • 1974 - 1980 ish Morag Haine
  • 1980 - 1988 Mike Power
  • 1988 - 1995 Ray Taylor
  • 1995 - 2000 John and Yvonne Streeter
  • 2000 - 2004 Phil and Sue Acton
  • 2004 - Simon and Christine Cross

Accommodation in Dartmoor B and B Dartmoor