Meet Rare Whiteface Dartmoor Sheep At First Ever Torre Abbey Summer Fair


The Rare Breeds Survival Trust (RBST) and the Foundation For Common Land (FCL) will bring Devon’s rare Whiteface Dartmoor sheep to their stand at the first ever Summer Fair at Torre Abbey, Torquay, on Saturday 19th August.


RBST is the national charity working for the future of the UK’s rare and native livestock and equine breeds. RBST Chief Executive Christopher Price said: “We’re really looking forward to introducing visitors to these iconic Whiteface Dartmoor sheep at the Torre Abbey Summer Fair. As they have been bred for this landscape over centuries, Whiteface Dartmoor sheep are really well suited to Dartmoor’s upland commons and they are able to thrive while also supporting the delicate ecosystem of this beautiful and important landscape.”


The distinctive Whiteface Dartmoor sheep, with its lustrous, tightly curled fleece and magnificent spiralled horns, is an irreplaceable part of the south-west region’s heritage. A descendant of the Dartmoor heath sheep of the 17th and 18th Centuries, the majority of the breed is still concentrated on Dartmoor. The breed’s meat has been called angel meat because of its fantastic taste, and Whiteface Dartmoors produce very good wool: its sheepskin rugs with a distinctive curl are particularly popular.


The Torre Abbey Summer Fair will take place on Saturday 19th August between 10am and 4.30pm, and will be free to enter. The event is inspired by an 1849 print depicting a celebration on the front lawn of Torre Abbey. Visitors can also access the Abbey on the day, for its normal admission prices. As well as celebrating Dartmoor’s rare farm breeds, the Summer Fair will offer an array of children's activities such as carnival games, donkey rides and children’s storytelling; local craft stalls; live music performances; and a range of food and drink available onsite too. 


Alongside other native upland breeds such as Dartmoor ponies, Whiteface Dartmoor sheep have helped shape the Dartmoor landscapes for centuries. The breed’s exceptional hardiness and ability to thrive on poor quality grazing are characteristics that remain as important for upland farming of today and tomorrow, as it was in times past. The sheep continue to play an important role in the ancient shared land management practice of Commoning on Dartmoor.


RBST Chief Executive Christopher Price adds: “Many native breed sheep, cattle and ponies have long grazed parts Dartmoor through commoning, an ancient practice which is still crucial today as we look to address challenges such as biodiversity loss, economic sustainability, food quality and security, flood management and climate change.”


RBST’s stall at the Torre Abbey Summer Fair is in partnership with the Foundation for Common Land, and it is part of a yearlong series made possible thanks to a grant from The National Lottery Heritage Fund, Take the Common to Town.


Sam Caraway, Project Manager at The Foundation for Common Land, said: “Commoning is a unique part of our heritage, a way of managing the land that’s older than the Magna Carta and is still at the heart of some of our most cherished landscapes. Take the Common to Town is a great opportunity to learn more about it and to meet some of the special breeds of animals that make it possible.”


For more information about the Torre Abbey Summer Fair, visit