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10 things to see inside Castle Drogo

The wooden telephone exchange in the Butler's Pantry at Castle Drogo
The telephone exchange in the Butler's Pantry at Castle Drogo | © National Trust Images/John Hammond

Step inside the last castle to be built in England, overlooking the Teign Gorge on Dartmoor. Inside, you can discover its precious treasures, fascinating stories and unique history.

November opening

The Castle is open weekends only in November. Not all of the rooms will be open at this time due to conservation work being undertaken.

Download a copy of the house guide here we also have a BSL guide availble on request from the Entrance Hall.

1. Designing a modern castle

Castle Drogo was built between 1911 and 1930 as an ancestral home for Julius Drewe, a millionaire store owner, and his family. He employed Sir Edwin Lutyens, one of the most important and influential architects of the 20th century, to design the castle. It was a very ambitious project, and is the last castle to be built in England.

2. Library and Billiard Room

This impressive Library contains a collection of unique decorated ceramic dishes in addition to its many bookshelves. It also has a short, informative video on the history of the castle that we’d recommend to any first time visitor. Whilst you’re here, why not check out the Char de Triomphe tapestry, dating back to the court of King Louis XIV of France, just outside?

3. The Drawing Room

The Drawing Room contains two Venetian chandeliers hanging from the ceiling, purchased by Julius and Frances Drewe during their honeymoon in 1891. It also includes an old 1840’s writing desk that belonged to Frances Drewe, and before her, King Louis Phillipe I of France! We can tell this because of the royal Fleur De Lis stamp on it, meaning it was part of his royal household.

Drawing room with floral chairs and table set around a large fire place. The walls are green and there are two chandeliers hanging from the ceiling
The Drawing room | © James Dobson

4. Family Portraits

Individual portraits were painted of Julius and Frances Drewe in 1902 by the Scottish artist Charles Martin Hardie. They are hung opposite each other in the grand hallway before the dining room and the paintings seem to depict each of their interests.

Julius is seen dressed in fishing gear, a favourite pastime of his, at the River Tummel in Scotland. He often fished the River Teign, which runs just through the valley below the castle, and the 39lb salmon at his feet can be seen preserved in the house today! Frances is shown in a white dress holding some pink roses in an elaborate garden in what was most likely the rose garden in their former home, Wadhurst Hall. Roses were Frances’ favourite flower and Julius insisted on making a rose garden for her here at Castle Drogo.

5. The Dining Room

Come and see what would have been an actual menu given to the Drewe’s dinner guests on display, written in French as was the fashion at the time. The table is lit up by electric candlesticks, a product of Julius Drewe’s love for modern gadgets, and adorned with Venetian glasses bought during his and Frances’ honeymoon.

Just beyond the Dining Room lies the Service Corridor, signalling a change into the domain of the servants, though not one that had been neglected by Lutyens. The craftsmanship displayed in the architecture here is just as high quality as anywhere else in the castle, with domed ceilings adding quality to the space.

door opening onto a long dining table with the table laid and candles lighting the room. The room is a dark wood panelling
The Dining Room at Castle Drogo | © James Dobson

6. The Kitchen

The Drewe family owned a staggering 374 copper jelly moulds that were all kept in their state of the art Kitchen (and still are now). It was designed by Lutyens and its modern design was the envy of many other manor houses at the time. A dumb waiter was included for the servants to send food directly up to the Drewe’s rooms.

7. Frances Drewe’s Boudoir

Frances Drewe’s Boudoir was her own private sitting room to relax in, and currently holds some possessions related to her two daughters, Mary and Frances. One of which is Mary Drewe’s teddy bear from when she was a child, which is currently over 120 years old!

8. The Memorial Room

The Memorial Room was originally set up by Frances Drewe when her oldest son, Adrian Drewe, was killed fighting in the First World War in 1917. She displayed many of his personal possessions, school photos and college trophies alongside a large portrait showing him in military uniform.

9. The Chapel

The Chapel was the last part of the castle to be built, with construction finishing in 1930, and is a good place to stop and reflect during a visit. The ceiling is quite low and rounded, and it holds a model replica of the Thiepval Memorial designed by Lutyens to commemorate British and South African soldiers lost in the Battle of the Somme in 1916.

10. The Nursery

The Nursery was where the young grandchildren would be kept while the adults were all busy, and currently hosts a display of old toys from some of the Drewe’s childhoods. One such toy is a doll house made for Mary Drewe, the oldest daughter, when she was six. It was designed by a professional architect and had many unusually realistic features, such as electric lights, water that could be turned on, and a fully functioning lift. (Please note the Nursery is not open everyday).

A wood panelled room with a large wooden dolls house in the centre there are rugs on the floor and a green sofa behind the dolls house
Mary Drew's doll house | © James Dobson
The North Tower and bathroom wing from the outside at Castle Drogo, Devon

Discover more at Castle Drogo

Find out when Castle Drogo is open, how to get here, the things to see and do and more.

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