Yesterday James Paxman, our Chief Executive, and I were privileged to visit Huccaby House, Hexworthy which holds an important place in the DPA’s history. For many years it was the home of Robert Burnard, one of the founding fathers of the DPA.
His father, Charles Burnard, took on the lease from the original occupier and in his turn Robert took it over from his father. Huccaby House was originally built as a fishing lodge overlooking the East Dart and was then extended over the years by Robert Burnard and later occupants.
Based up on the high moor and in quite a central position it must have been ideal for Robert Burnard. He was an indefatigable walker and explorer of the moor. Tales of the distances that he and his great friend Sabine Baring-Gould walked are legendary and all the more impressive thinking of the heavy, bulky photographic equipment he often took with him. The results of many of these photographic trips can be seen today in the Dartmoor Archive’s Burnard collection.They form an important early record of Dartmoor’s archaeology, not least because some of the sites he photographed are no longer in existence having gone under reservoirs. We undoubtedly owe the appreciation of Dartmoor’s archaeological heritage that we take for granted today in some part to Robert Burnard’s painstaking work.
The current owners kindly invited us to have a look around and showed us the collection of memorabilia connected with the house. For many years after they moved in they would be visited by Sylvia Sayer, Burnard’s grand-daughter and previous Patron and leading light of the DPA, and she would regale them with tales of holidays she spent there as a child.
It was fascinating to learn more about the part this house, now hidden from view behind the trees, has played in the history of both Dartmoor and the DPA.