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Castle Drogo

Visited May 2013

Location Drewsteignton, Devon
Entrance Fee Yes
Railway Station Nearby No
Parking Yes
Facilities Toilets, Café, Gift shop


Situated on the edge of a gorge on Dartmoor, 900 feet above sea -level, Castle Drogo looks every inch the medieval castle. However  the castle was actually only begun in 1911, leading it to be dubbed 'the last castle to be built in England'.






The owner, Julius Drewe, had made a fortune through his grocery business. He had sold up and moved to Devon, intending to build a castle for his family, as he believed he was descended from the Norman lord Drogo de Teign who had once held the very same lands. He commissioned architect Edwin Lutyens to draw up plans for the castle, Norman in style, inspired by his distant ancestor.


Unlike Victorian follies, this is actually a true castle, with a working portcullis, crenellations and arrow loops. It also had all the mod cons of the early twentieth century such as central heating, running water for the modern bathrooms and even telephones, still a luxury in Edwardian Britain. The Drewe family lived here for several generations before giving the castle over to the care of the National Trust, so it still feels very much like a family home inside.




The entrance tower is turreted, and contains the working portcullis. A lion above the door carries the motto-  'Drewe is the name and valour gave it arms'. The entrance hall was decorated in the style of a Norman great hall- unfortunately the day we went we were not able to appreciate this fully as the castle is in the middle of a major refurbishment and so not all the rooms are viewable and those that are have been re-arranged to incorporate the building work.


Ornate wood carvings in the dining room were nonetheless still visible, and the kitchen with its beautiful circular window has been left unaltered. These small details demonstrate the thought and skill that went into the building of the castle- not forgetting the huge amounts of granite used for the exterior, which had to be sourced and transported to the site. The whole project was a massive  undertaking, and the results are certainly impressive.






In terms of things to specifically interest children, the National Trust provide a trail to follow around the house, in the form of postcards sent supposedly from the Drewe children. These contain clues and have to be located in each of the rooms. There is also a trail around the grounds, this had to be paid for (£1.50 on the day we went) but at the end the children are allowed to choose a prize from a pretty impressive selection kept in a treasure chest.


In the castle itself there was a children's room containing dressing up clothes from the Edwardian times. The grounds are good for a run around, and there is a walk all the way around the  exterior of the castle. The Rhododendrons are beautiful when in flower, and considering the difficulty in growing many plants at this altitude, the gardens are a real credit. At the top of the formal gardens is the 'Bunty House', a small playhouse used by the Drewe family children.  Although it is locked, you can peek inside at the tiny pieces of furniture. Finally, there is croquet available on the circular lawn. The gift shop is available for the more materialistically-minded children (I include mine in this category)





More info:  The National Trust Castle Drogo

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