The chapel

A sculpture in the chapel at Castle Drogo.

The chapel has been closed to visitors for 5 years due to the restoration project but it is now reopen.

The chapel

The chapel was the last part of the castle to be built. Initially, it was intended to be a large undercroft for the Great Hall to rest upon but when the plan for a Great Hall was abandoned, it was decided that this spare space could be turned into a chapel.

The bell tower was then added onto the flat roof. This was the last part of the castle to be built and was completed in 1931 - a few years after the family had taken up residence in the rest of the castle.

The chapel was never consecrated and was used only for private family services. Today it is home to two exhibitions about Sir Edwin Lutyens and the First World War.

Sir Edwin Lutyens

In all of his work for the Imperial War Graves Commission, Sir Edwin Lutyens is perhaps best remembered for his majestic Memorial to the Missing of the Somme at Thiepval. This is said to be one of the finest pieces of monumental architecture to arise from the terrible conflicts of the 20th century. You can find an architectural model of this memorial at the rear of the chapel. It featured at the Lutyens exhibition in London in 1981 and was donated to the National Trust by The Arts Council.

The First World War

The chapel tells the story of how the castle was affected by the First World War. You’ll find “the men walking through the wall” a tribute to all of the stonemasons who went off to the war. One of the masons William George Arscott who lived in the village of Drewsteignton sadly died in 1918 in Greece.

When war was declared in 1914 work on the castle began to slow down and the single men were encouraged to volunteer and some were paid a bounty for volunteering by Julius Drewe. This money covered the cost of their kit, which at that time they had to pay for themselves.  There are several letters in the Castle Drogo archive to this effect;

Pt. W. G. Arscott (sic)
Dear Sir
Thank you for your letter re kit money.
I have now pleasure in enclosing you £3.  0.  6. also receipt for same, kindly sign this across the stamp and return to me.
This is two weeks wages plus 10/- for expenses incurred.
I hope you will have a good time, do your duty to the King and Country, and come back at the end of the War, unless you find that you like the Army & finish your 21 years, coming out as Colour Sergeant with various medals.
I am
Yours faithfully
J C Walker

The eldest son Adrian Drewe also went off to war and sadly died at Ypres in 1917. His wooden cross which was also the original marker of his grave at Vlamenthinge New Military Cemetery, near Ypres in Belgium can be found in the chapel.

This woodem cross in the chapel marked Adrian Drewe's grave in Ypres.
A wooden cross in the chapel marked Adrian's grave in Ypres.
This woodem cross in the chapel marked Adrian Drewe's grave in Ypres.

The chapel is open every day until 23 December.