Castle Drogo – National Trust

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This is a long low granite mock castle built on a platform high above the Teign Gorge. it is a stern, impressive structure set in a magnificent setting.

It was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens as a family home for the retail tycoon Julius Drewe who founded the Home and Colonial Stores. Lutyens was commissioned to design an ancestral home to be proud of but with all the mod cons of the 20thC. Building began in 1911 and it was eventually finished in 1930, a year before Drew’s death. The oldest son was killed during the war and the castle is only a third of its original intended size. Even so it is massive.

The castle is built on a slope. Entry through the main doorway takes you into the ‘great hall’. To the left is a large library with billiard room off. To the right and up a few steps is a large and elegant drawing room . This had originally been intended as the minstrels’ gallery for the dining room on the floor below. This has green painted paneling which gives it a Regency look and has beautiful crystal chandeliers.

A massive stone staircase leads to the lower floor with the dining room beneath the drawing room. This has dark wooden paneling giving it a cosy feel.

There is a long passageway through a stone archway to the servants quarters. These were also designed by Lutyens and no expense was spared. The Butler’s Pantry was lined with beautifully made wooden cupboards and had two large wooden sinks for washing fragile china and glass. It also contained the telephone exchange and house bells.

The kitchen was big and impressive and lined with wooden shelves with copper pots and pans. There were 2 coal fired ranges for cooking, big pestle and mortar and massive log chopping board. Next was the manservant’s room. He was on duty 24 hours a day and had to answer the bells. He had a small bed and hanging cupboard.

Upstairs is the main bedroom with dressing room attached. There is a big mirror in a false door which reflects back the bedroom making it seem much bigger. There is the parlour and the room of the eldest son which contains mementos of his war service and death. There is a bathroom with large bath with vicious looking shower and a separate toilet.

The house had central heating, lifts and electricity was supplied by a small hydro electric plant in the valley below and the National Trust has plans to restore this.

Below the castle, reached by walking round the outside is the small chapel.

Unfortunately flaws in the original construction have resulted in water penetration through the roof, windows and pointing and evidence of this can be seen throughout the castle. One room was currently shut because of damp. The National Trust have a massive fund raising appeal to raise money to allow remedial work to be carried out.

The castle is set in a large area of woodland with many footpaths and is popular with local walkers.

It is a good 10minutes walk from the car park through the trees to the castle. The formal flower gardens have been laid out with rose and herbaceous beds and formal hedging to divide up the garden. They are on a slope and a central path climbs up with steps to give a good views down the length of the gardens.

There is a shop, tea room and small visitor centre by the car park.

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