Castle Drogo – National Trust

Star Travel Rating

5/5

Review type

Things to do

Location

Castle Drogo - National Trust

Date of travel

2013

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Reasons for trip

With scaffolding, costing one million pounds alone, the castle stands encased for a five year repair project, especially for its windows and the roof that has leaked ever since its completion in 1931. The expensive and fragile soft-furnishings, fabrics and linens have been expertly folded and rolled in white protective sheets, all neatly labelled by the conservationists. Most of the precious furniture and paintings have been crated up to look like stamped tea-chests, which reflects the origins of the castle.

But there is still much to see of the rooms and its contents of the last castle to built in Britain. Julius Drewe established the company of Home and Colonial Stores and after just six years and at the age of 33 had made more than enough money to enable him to retire. His dream of a fabulous family home, for himself and his wife, Frances, and eventually five children, three boys and two girls, was about to be put into place and he appointed the well-known architect Sir Edwin Lutyens to be the man to create and build it on the edge of Dartmoor and calling the castle "Drogo" after misleadingly being led to understand an ancestor of his was a druid!

Each of the rooms open for viewing have been given alternative titles while the work continues. The castle was built on the foundations of his fortune so we have "The Room of Good Fortune" for instance. The "Room of Granite and Steel" shows the key construction methods and materials: granite, concrete, steel. The "Room of Mr. Drewe" indicates his passion for all things: as a globetrotter, an entrepreneur and a technophile – well ahead of histime, but then he did have the finances to encourage this. Started in 1911 the work was interrupted, of course, in 1914. After WW1 it wasn't until 1931 that the Drewe's were eventually able to call it "home".

Lutyens also designed the formal garden where visitors can walk and admire and also play croquette on an immaculate lawn………not many historic houses would allow that!

To see it all properly and take in all around you, time is needed to enjoy it, even in its present state!

However, with the advent of the centenary of WW1 very shortly upon us you should not miss or avoid the "below stairs" quarters, the "Corridor of No Return". Julius and Frances lost their eldest son in this conflict. It is the most emotive and evocative sight. A wall with with images of men going through it – you know never to return. Your heart will stop.

Please go there.

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