One man had a dream of creating a utopia in the centre of Dartmoor, a new colony that would turn Dartmoor’s rain-swept blanket bog into a rolling prairie of wheat. MED Theatre’s 2010 Community Play ‘Hinterland’ followed the extraordinary true story of Thomas Tyrwhitt who, while he never fully realised his agricultural ambitions, certainly left his mark on Dartmoor. Not only did he build the iconic Napoleonic War Depot, now known as Dartmoor Prison, he was also responsible for the mountain community of Princetown that still surrounds the Prison today.
As Tyrwhitt went about his grand design, with the backing of the then Prince of Wales, he engineered a multicultural society via both the influx of his friends and the foreign prisoners on parole. In the process he came into conflict with an intricate network of local beliefs and land rights; local tales of shape-shifters and vampires challenged Tyrwhitt’s understanding of human suffering, while Dartmoor’s indigenous inhabitants proved resistant to change.