Castle Drogo Devon The Last Castle To Be Built In England.
Castle Drogo is a country house and castle near Drewsteignton, Devon, England. Constructed between 1911 and 1930, it was the last castle to be built in England. The client was Julius Drewe, the hugely successful founder of the Home and Colonial Stores. Drewe chose the site in the belief that it formed part of the lands of his supposed medieval ancestor, Drogo de Teigne. The architect he chose to realise his dream was Edwin Lutyens, then at the height of his career. Lutyens lamented Drewe’s determination to have a castle but nevertheless produced one of his finest buildings. The architectural critic, Christopher Hussey, described the result: “The ultimate justification of Drogo is that it does not pretend to be a castle. It is a castle, as a castle is built, of granite, on a mountain, in the twentieth century”.
The castle was given to the National Trust in 1974, the first building constructed in the twentieth century that the Trust acquired. Currently undergoing conservation (2013–2018), the castle is a Grade I listed building. The gardens are Grade II listed on the National Register of Historic Parks and Gardens.
In 1910 Julius Drewe bought about 450 acres (1.8km2) south and west of the village of Drewsteignton in the belief that he was descended from the Drewe family that once lived here. Born Drew, the son of George Smith Drew and his wife Mary, née Peek, both from substantial families of grocers, Drewe added the “e” to his surname later in life. By the time of his death in 1931 he had bought up an estate of 1,500 acres. Around 1910 he asked Edwin Lutyens to build him a castle. According to his son Basil, he did so on the advice of Edward Hudson, proprietor of Country Life magazine, who was both a patron and a champion of Lutyens. Drewe was now 54 years old, but he still had time, energy and money to create his new family seat. The budget was £50,000 for the castle, and a further £10,000 for the garden. Lutyens wrote privately of his concern over Drewe’s ambitions; “I do wish he didn’t want a castle but just a delicious loveable house with plenty of good large rooms in it”. On 4 April 1911, Drewe’s 55th birthday, the first foundation stone was laid.
After Julius’s death, his wife Frances and her son Basil continued to live at the castle. During 1939–45, Frances and her daughter Mary ran the house as a home for babies made homeless during the bombings of London. Frances Drewe died in 1954 and Basil was then joined at Drogo by his son Anthony and his wife. In 1974, Anthony and his son, Dr Christopher Drewe, gave Castle Drogo and 600 acres (2.4km2) of the surrounding land to the National Trust. It was the first 20th-century property the charity acquired. The writer and National Trust administrator James Lees-Milne recorded his impressions of the house and its owners in a diary entry dated 9 September 1976; “Reached Castle Drogo … at eleven. Very satisfactory house of clean-cut granite. A new family aspiring to, rather arriving at, landed gentry-hood and now the representative living upstairs in a tiny flat, all within my lifetime”.
The castle has been undergoing an extensive, five-year, restoration. A new visitor centre with shop and café opened in the summer of 2009, after English Heritage required that industrial kitchen equipment such as that used by the previous café within the house, be removed from Grade I listed buildings. In February 2011, the National Trust launched a public appeal for money to fund necessary restoration work.
The castle has a formal garden, designed by Lutyens with planting by George Dillistone, which contrasts with its setting on the edge of Dartmoor. In 1915, Lutyens brought in Gertrude Jekyll to assist with the planning. Jekyll’s involvement appears to have been limited to designing the planting for the approach to the castle along the drive. The garden is noted for its rhododendrons and magnolias, herbaceous borders, rose garden, shrub garden and circular grass tennis court now used for croquet. The gardens are Grade II listed.
Cinematic (Sting) by Twin Musicom is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)
Brandenburg Concerto No4-1 BWV1049 – Classical Whimsical by Kevin MacLeod is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)