US Daughters visit Princetown for anniversary event

The service marked two hundred years since the first American soldiers were marched from Plymouth to new “digs” at Dartmoor Prison after being captured while serving in the British-American War of 1812. While incarcerated on the moor the prisoners, along with French captives from the Napoleonic War, worked on the town’s parish church between 1812 and 1814.

A visiting party of 30 members of the 'US Daughters of 1812' also joined the special service and bequeathed a gift of almost £1,000 to CCT for the window’s conservation, having flown from the States for a four-day trip to trace their ancestors’ steps.

While the majority of the 6,500 captured US servicemen eventually returned home, between 215 and 284 prisoners tragically perished in captivity and were interred in the church’s graveyard. These soldiers are honoured in the church’s beautiful East window, which was donated in 1910 by the US Daughters of 1812 and is currently the subject of a significant conservation programme under the guidance of CCT experts.

Schoolchildren from the local primary school are also taking part in the window project by designing and decorating a temporary replacement window on Perspex while the original artwork receives professional care.

Neil Rushton, Conservation Projects Manager at CCT and the lead for the window project, said:

“It was a privilege to attend the service for the French and American prisoners who left such a lasting legacy in Princetown Church.

“The church’s commemorative East window in honour of the American troops interred in the churchyard is delicately painted and stained. Unfortunately the harsh moor weather has taken its toll but we’re thrilled to have the support from the local community, the US Daughters of 1812, the Heritage Lottery Fund South West, the primary school and others to help us return it to its original grandeur.”