Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Saving Castle Drogo

Way back in April when we were driving back up from our Cornwall holiday (I am only a few months behind!!!) we stopped off at Castle Drogo.  We have been there before and it is a really interesting place to visit if you ever get the chance.  The main attractions as we had been driving for some time were the cafe and a visit to the other little room - you know the one!  Castle Drogo was the last castle to be built in England.  It was designed by the famous architect Sir Edwin Lutyens.  Although for some reason I always want to call him Edward.  Poor man!

Castle Drogo was built from 1911 to 1930 for Julius Drewe.  However, almost immediately after it was built it started to leak - I know how it feels to live in a leaky house! - ever since then repairs and patching have been going on.  The Castle was given to the National Trust in 1974 when it became the trusts first 20th Century House.

In 2017 all of the current repairs to the Castle will be complete, after a project of over 10 years.  The roof has been taken off, many stones from the walls removed and windows painstakingly repaired too.  The Castle is still some way off being completed and back to its "usual" self, but it is very interesting too.

There are some art installations in place in some of the rooms and I will show you these in another post.  If you click on the pictures that are to come up they will enlarge and then you can read all about the work and see the timeline of the Castle and all that has happened here and some of the main events in the Drewe family.

You can see the Castle in the distance behind the stoneyard.  It all seemed like a giant jigsaw puzzle that someone was in the process of working out.  I was surprised at how large the stones actually are.

You can see that most of the building is shrouded in scaffolding.  The green on the side is a staircase that you can go up and you can see work happening on the roof.  We didn't go up because we didn't have time and I was wearing a very long skirt, so not good for climbing!

If you are interested in seeing the roof works and other things though you can look on the NT website here.

Although you cannot see the Castle you can tell from this door how amazing it looks.  We have been to see the Castle before work started a couple of times and it really is a fascinating building and well worth a visit.  Just imagine an Arts and Crafts Castle and how amazing that might be and you are some way there to imagining it.

These information boards tell you a bit more about the work happening and what the causes of the leaks are!

Here you can see the fascinating history of the family and the Castle.

As I mentioned there are various art installations in the Castle, but before you enter the Castle you can visit The Site Hut of Parallel Time.  Also called by me the Site Hut of a Parallel Universe!

I cannot confess to understand all that was going on here.  However, the gist - I think! - is that this is the site hut and the artworks - mostly all interactive - demonstrate communications between the site office and other people such as Julius Drewe.

Then we headed off to the Castle for our walk around, which I will share with you in another post.

Just to give you a taster, this is some of the damage which the building has suffered internally.  So sad, but it is being repaired so that is good!

More to come another day!  I can recommend it as well worth a visit though if you are in the area, either now, or especially when it is all fixed up again!



  1. I've said it before, you are so lucky to have something like the National Trust... They make so much efforts to preserve national heritage, like this castle...
    If that castle would have been situated here, it would probably be in ruins right now... (Many buildings here have suffered that fate - families not having necessary funds to restore/maintain big properties, but government not having funds to buy the properties & rescuing them..)
    Anyway, this castle will definitely be worth a visit when finished ! I love arts & crafts !!

  2. I've always thought about visiting Castle Drogo - mainly because I thought it had something to do with The Hobbit! However, perhaps I should wait until 2017? I'm hoping to head off to an NT place today on my last day of freedom this summer! Judy.

  3. You should have climbed the stairway Amy - I did last year, the views from the top are wonderful. It was a bit of an adventure, I thought it would be difficult, but it was easy.

  4. I have been to Castle Drogo many years ago. I thought it was an interesting place. What I found most astonishing is that it was only built in the 20th century! Bizarre, isn't it? To build a castle when clearly they were not in fashion anymore. We were thinking of going back sometime soon but may leave it until works are completed. x

  5. I've never been to Castle Drogo but it looks like an amazing place. I'll wait until they've finished the repairs before I think about a visit though.

  6. We had our picnic in the garden going down to Cornwall in May. I sat staring at the beautifully trained wisteria. Another highlight at this time was the new young foliage from the Japanese maples and of course the views over Dartmoor are breathtaking. We've been in the castle many times with the children, they used to have a very good children's trail which on completion meant you could choose a present. Mine always used to choose the parachute men which they would release from the high stone walls and then we would have to climb down to retrieve them. Once we walked to Castle Drogo along the river from a Landmark Trust house on Dartmoor. That was a long walk with young children. I think that may have been one of the few times my husband walked back on his own to collect the car while I tried to teach the children croquet. I'm surprised we've never bumped into you at NT places Amy. I was given Life Membership for my 21st birthday and we've certainly had full value from it over the last 35 years! We're off to Coleton Fishacre now on our way home from Cornwall!

    1. Did you enjoy Coleton Fishacre Sarah? It's one of my favourite places. I'd happily live there! Sam x

  7. Hello Amy! Castle Drogo looks so interesting. What an epic restoration project it is, but I'm very glad not to have to be supervising that job! It will be amazing when its finished, won't it? xx

  8. What a mammoth undertaking!! What a headache for the original owners and now the NT when you think of the damage that water causes to the interiors. Looks like the castle will be keeping employment up for another couple of years ;) You have me curious now to see the arty bits!

  9. Really interesting, so important to preserve our heritage xx

  10. It is wonderful that the NT look after so many of our wonderful buildings/estates. It is nice to know that our heritage is being preserved for the next generation.

  11. A huge project. Do they use the castle for events or is it just like a museum for viewing?

  12. I love Drogo and wrote about it for Devon Life many years ago. It is high up above the Teign Gorge - Drewe wanted it thus as a castle would be built on a high spot from where adversaries could be seen. But I've not yet seen the work being carried out there - maybe I get can to it before the end of the NT open season.
    Margaret P

  13. We've been near there, but never stopped, definitely worth saving.

  14. Goodness you wouldn't know it was a castle under all that, would you! I'm sure it will be excellent when it's done. x

  15. I really want to visit Castle Drogo!!! But now I don't know whether to wait until it's finished or go to see it while it's still all wrapped up!

  16. So good that this work is going on, what a major task though.

    All the best Jan

  17. Fascinating. That's some work they're undertaking.

  18. looks like a fun trip!! i love castle ... wonder what one today would cost? 1 million or tons more?!!! ( ;

  19. What a fascinating post. The National Trust really do things properly don't they. It's good to have them looking after our national treasures. I'm so impressed with the scale of the work and with how painstakingly it's being done. And it's an interesting fact that Castle Drogo was the last castle to be built in this country. I'm sure that information will be useful in a quiz one day! CJ xx

  20. I did not know anything about this castle - and now i am enchanted altogether . . THEN the parallel universe place almost exploded my brain, so i am grateful you explained it a bit - and took me back for one more look see . . . so cool.

  21. We visited Castle Drogo about 10 years ago and really loved it. It's not one of Lutyens' finest, though, especially as it wasn't really fit for purpose! Imagine being saddled with the maintenance costs afterwards... Good old NT to be sorting it out.

  22. I think it's wonderful the efforts people and organizations make to save treasures and part of history. So interesting. Thanks for sharing Amy! xoxo

  23. Fascinating Amy and an easy trip for me! Well worth the visit I'm sure.


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