Why Castle Drogo is special
Julius Drewe started building Castle Drogo, his ideal family home, in 1911. He asked Edwin Lutyens, one of the most important and influential architects of the 20th- century, to design it. In Drewe’s eyes it had to be a medieval-style castle, emphasising his newly discovered ancestry.
Edwin Lutyens, arguably best known for his First World War memorials, including the Cenotaph and the Thiepval Memorial on the Somme, was equally successful in domestic architecture. Lutyens was not sure about Drewe’s request to build him a castle, but he came round to the idea and used his earlier work, most notably at Lindisfarne, to inspire him.
Although Lutyens’s design for Castle Drogo includes typical features associated with historic castles, it was to become a thoroughly modern home. The important collection of architectural drawings held at Castle Drogo show us how the design evolved and that it was an ambitious and costly project.
Although Lutyens’s extensive ideas were not all realised, Castle Drogo is recognised as one of the most important and complete 20th- century architectural masterpieces in Britain. Everything at Castle Drogo is thoughtfully designed and created: from its bold, sculptural exterior and formal gardens to its distinct interiors with bespoke furniture, fixtures and fittings.
The Dartmoor landscape
Built entirely in granite, Castle Drogo seems to rise out of the high granite spur on which it was built. This creates a most dramatic setting, with the steep-sided wooded gorge of the River Teign below, and the rugged Dartmoor landscape that embraces it.
The wider estate includes land bought by Julius Drewe specifically to create the perfect setting for Castle Drogo and to preserve the views from his home. Key features of this landscape include Whiddon deer park with important archaeological features, along with Fingle Woods with its logan stone on the banks of the Teign.
The National Trust
Castle Drogo was handed to the National Trust in 1973, by descendants of its first owner, Julius Drewe. According to the estate manager at the time, the family were concerned ‘that such a modern and hideous house (as many of their neighbours thought) could not be accepted by the Trust’. They could not have been more wrong of course. The architectural significance of Castle Drogo was recognised as early as 1952, just over 30 years after its completion, when it was first listed at Grade I.
The National Trust continues to look after Castle Drogo, working with the Drewe family, to share this architectural masterpiece with everyone. Now that the extensive roof repair project is nearly coming to an end, we will soon be able to show Castle Drogo in its fullest glory.