You may have heard of Castle Drogo – it’s the rather imposing medieval fortress that looks out over the stunning Dartmoor landscape, offering some truly stunning views of the local countryside as well as a glimpse into the past.
Located in Drewsteignton, not far from Exeter, Castle Drogo is home to a Norman-themed library, a Georgian drawing room complete with Venetian chandeliers and a Jacobean-style dining room – which boasts an electric tablecloth! – so a visit really is a lesson in history. You’ll also get a taste of what life was like in the 1920s, if you visit between April and September, with Living History volunteers acting as servants from 1928 all ready to meet you and chat about their employers.
Although it looks like it was built in medieval times, appearances can be deceptive, since Castle Drogo was built only a century ago by Julius Drewe, founder of the Home and Colonial Stores, who fancied living in a castle when he retired – at the ripe old age of 34! He chose the granite crop overlooking the Teign Gorge because he believed that Drewsteignton was the home of Baron Drogo de Teign, his Norman ancestor.
You’ll notice when you visit that it’s clearly not all been plain sailing for Castle Drogo, however, and the fortress has been plagued with structural problems since its construction. Almost half a million pounds is needed to help save the site from water damage – the walls need to be repointed, the windows replaced and the roof restored and, unless this work is completed soon, the castle will have to be abandoned.
Luckily, the National Trust’s bid to secure Heritage Lottery funding to save the castle has been successful. Now work can begin on removing 2,355 granite blocks so the new roof system can be installed, with local people to be involved every step of the way. There will be opportunities to learn new skills like masonry and joinery, with plans also to include the construction of new learning and exhibition spaces.
What’s on at Castle Drogo
August 31st – September 2nd
Spick and Span Weekend
Drop in on this free event and find out how housekeeping has changed in the last century, with the conservation team revealing historic cleaning recipes.
September 29th – 30th
World War II Weekend
Re-enactments, vehicles and displays from the Military Vehicle Trust will all be included to help recreate the atmosphere of wartime Britain and reveal what it must have been like to be an evacuee.
Follow Castle Drogo on Twitter to find out more about its conservation efforts.
Image: dumbledad, from Flickr