Julius and Frances Drewe by Charles Martin Hardie (1902)

The main staircase at Castle Drogo.

When you walk down the main stairs at Castle Drogo you will meet its first owners, Julius and Frances Drewe. Their large portraits hanging on opposite walls of the stairwell leading to the Dining Room were painted by the Scottish artist Charles Martin Hardie in 1902.

Julius Drewe was the third son of the Reverend George Smith Drewe and Mary Peek. As a young man, Julius became a tea merchant in his mother’s family business, and travelled all over the world. On his return he founded the successful Home and Colonial Stores, acquiring new wealth and status. In 1890 he married Frances, the daughter of Thomas Richardson of Burbage, Derbyshire. 


What do their portraits tell us? 


I always glance up at Julius and Frances’s portraits when I walk past them. Each time I seem to discover a detail that I had not spotted before. Portraits can often give us a lot of clues about the person in the painting. 


Julius Drewe was very keen on fishing. Here he is shown in his fishing outfit at Faskally, near the river Tummel, Pertshire. He is holding a book of fishing flies. Behind him, at his feet, lies the enormous 39lb salmon he had caught in 1900. When he lived at Castle Drogo, Julius would often be seen fishing on the River Teign, which runs through the valley below the castle.  

A portrait of Julius Drewe showing his love of country pursuits.
A full length portrait of Julius Drewe
A portrait of Julius Drewe showing his love of country pursuits.

Frances is shown in a white dress with a black sash, which was the height of fashion in the Edwardian period. She is standing in the elaborate formal garden at Wadhurst Hall, Sussex, the Drewe’s former family home, and has just been picking roses. Roses were particularly popular in England at the time, and Frances loved them. It is therefore perhaps no surprise that the formal garden at Castle Drogo has an elaborate rose garden. 

A portrait of Frances Drewe which hangs on the main staircase at Castle Drogo.
A portrait of Frances Drewe in a rose garden.
A portrait of Frances Drewe which hangs on the main staircase at Castle Drogo.