October building update

What are the builders doing in October?

Recent tours up onto the roof have highlighted how much has changed on site and produced some very interesting photos.

IMG_4979                     IMG_5021

  • Reconstruction of the south wing continues to progress with the parapet walls now starting to be rebuilt.
  • The repointing of the south wing is all well advanced. (see picture below).IMG_4965
  • At ground level the west forecourt door has been reconstructed (see picture below).IMG_5048
  • The Bauder membrane is continuing to be laid. (see picture below).
  • IMG_4983
  • A crane was here on the 1 October to lift the granite lintels back onto the lantern light on the south wing of the building.

What’s next?

  • The contractor is still on schdule to complete the south wing at the end of the year.
  • Next March our interpretation within the castle will completely change so make sure that you visit us soon.

Notes from the archive

Newspaper articles relating to Adrian, Basil and Cedric
During our research about the First World War at Castle Drogo we came across a treasure trove of Newspaper Articles, mostly from the Western Times, now no longer available. We thought that you might like to see some of them that relate to the Drewe boys.



Basil Drewe

Cedric Drewe

Western times 5th June 1917

Western times

Coming of age

Coming of age 2

This next piece was from the London Gazette
2nd Lt. Basil Drewe, R.G.A., Spec. Res. For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. His battery came under intense shell fire and a cartridge dump was set on fire. Five minutes later he received orders to open fire, which he did, and throughout he continued to extinguish fires, restore communications, organise gun detachments and stretcher parties, and with utter contempt of danger kept all his available guns in action until ordered to cease fire. He showed the greatest courage and leadership.

last page

The Devon and Exeter Gazette July 20th 1917

The latest news from the scaffold….

Building work has been progressing well and if you climb up the vieiwng tower and look down on the site you can really appreciate how much the builders have been up to;

The new Bauder roof membrane
The laying of the Bauder membrane is continuing and a large part of the vertical sections of the south wing have now been covered. The occasional whiff of hot bitumen is created by the hot torching method used to lay the system.

Rebuilding of masonry has started – mainly out of sight on the east side of the castle to date, sections of walling are being rebuilt following the completion of sections of the Bauder membrane.

Pointing is almost complete on the east side of the south wing and also on the south elevation. It is also well advanced on the west side.
• The lantern light over the staircase is now well advanced  the windows mullions and transoms are being reassembled and a crane will be on site to return the large lintels.

If you would like to find out more come and visit us on Wednesday 29 October for Meet the Builders day, there will be demonstrations and activities as well as behind the scenes tours (restrictions apply, £2 per person).


First World War Centenary

Monday 4 August 2014 marks the 100th anniversary of the start of World War 1. In 1914, before hostilities commenced, government propaganda of all combatant nations ensured their citizens were convinced of the justness of their respective causes. The patriotic enthusiasm for the conflict thus engendered on all sides ensured hundreds of thousands of volunteers joined up immediately. The euphoria was soon subdued by exposure to shelling and machine guns and a German soldier perfectly articulated the realities of war in a diary entry of 28 September 1914.
“We are so benumbed that we march off to war without tears and without terror and yet we all know we are on our way into the jaws of Hell. But clad in a stiff uniform, a heart does not beat as it wants to. We aren’t ourselves. We’re hardly human any longer, at most we are well drilled automatons who perform every action without any great reflection. O Lord God, if only we could become human again”.
Over the next four years the author and 16.5 million others, including Adrian Drewe and several of the pre-war Drogo workforce, perished and would never ‘become human again’.
We should remember them.

Adrian Drewe
With the centenary of the First World War approaching on Monday it seems only fitting for us to retell our own story. Adrian Drewe was studying for medical research work at St Barts when war broke out, in October 1914 he received a commission in the R.G.A (Royal Garrison Artillery) and went off to the front with his battery in the spring of 1915 and saw much active service. The RGA looked after the heavier guns normally positioned some way behind the front lines.
On 22 May 1916 Adrian Drewe and Jane Facey married in Southborne. His brother Cedric is thought to have been the best man.

Between March and July 1917 Adrian was promoted to major.
Adrian Drewe was killed on 12 July 1917, in the days leading up to 12 July at Vlamertinghe the WAR DIARY of 262 Siege Battery RGA records;
From 8-11 July over 923 rounds were fired by the Allies onto the enemy lines. Sadly the war diary records on 12 July “6 shells fell in centre section. One hit B.C post killing Major A Drewe.”
Vlamertinghe was during the greater part of the war just outside the normal range of enemy shell fire, and was used both by Artillery units and by field ambulances.
6 months after Adrian’s death Jane married again to Mr Edmund Dawson, a great friend of Adrian’s and had 4 children.

Project update

It is quite amazing to think that over half the year has gone already, and work at Drogo is progressing well. The view from the top of the viewing tower has changed dramatically over the last few months and you can really appreciate what the builders have been up to.

Recently the builders have been;
– Repointing of the south and east wings is well advanced.


-Bauder membrane is being laid on the roof starting with vertical sections.

 IMG_4599( view of the roof)

-The East window (the tallest window in the castle) has all the glass back in, we are however waiting for the builders to complete the sealing of these windows.

What’s next?

-Stonework reinstatement will increase during July. This has already started on the east wing.

- More scaffolding is being erected so that the builders can remove the remainder of the parapet.

-The work is continuing to the programme we expect with the south wing being finished for Christmas.

If you would like to know more our project manager leads Hard Hat tours on the building site. Please look at the Castle Drogo website for more details.


A missing piece in the jigsaw? The First World War and the Castle Drogo garden

In an encounter in Parliament in 1917 with the anti-war campaigning poet Siegfried Sassoon, Winston Churchill put forward the idea that “War is the normal occupation of man”. Following a scornful look from Sassoon, Churchill amended his words adding “…War and Gardening”.

The human occupations in this quote encapsulate the classic dichotomy of war and peace, but are there ever moments in time when these two extremes collide?

Throughout this year the nation is commemorating the 100th anniversary of the First World War.  After a tip off from our very own Clive Smith I have discovered  evidence that suggests  Drogo’s garden may have some very surprising connections with the ‘Great War’ that have up until now been overlooked.

The unprecedented number of casualties of the First World War produced an entirely new attitude towards the commemoration of war dead. Previously individual commemoration was often on an ad hoc basis and was almost exclusively limited to commissioned officers. The scale of the 1914-18 war required mobilization of a significant percentage of the population, either as volunteers or through conscription. Due to the horror of trench warfare and the scale and cost of human sacrifice, an expectation had arisen that individual soldiers would be commemorated, whatever their rank. The war office in London was also aware that dignified treatment of the bodies of the fallen would contribute to the morale of those still fighting. 

On May 21st 1917 the Imperial War Graves Commission was created to care for the graves of all those that had died in active service, from all dominions of the British Empire. Lutyens was keen to be involved right from the start although the effect of seeing the battlefields first hand and the scale of the makeshift cemeteries had a considerable effect on him. Some extracts of what he wrote in his letters show this: “What humanity can endure and suffer is beyond belief… a ribbon of isolated graves like a milky way across miles of country where men were tucked in where they fell…. For miles these graves occur from single pairs to close packed areas of thousands on every sort of site and in every sort of position, the bodies laid to face the enemy… tomorrow we go again to the battlefields-to a scene of obliterated villages, scared soil and destroyed tanks etc.”

A committee under Frederic Kenyon, Director of the British Museum, presented a report to the Commission in November 1918 detailing how it envisioned the development of the cemeteries. Two key elements were that bodies should not be repatriated and that uniform memorials should be used to avoid class distinctions. Beyond the logistical nightmare of returning home so many corpses, it was felt that repatriation would conflict with the feeling of brotherhood that had developed between serving ranks.

The scale of the war cemetery construction was immense and this ‘architecture of death’ came to form a major part of Lutyens’ work. Gavin Stamp in the foreword of the book ‘Lutyens and the great War’ hints at the irony surrounding Lutyens successful career… “The terrible war that brought an end to the complacent civilisation which sustained Lutyens’ practice also gave him the opportunity to rise to the highest levels of creativity”. In the aftermath of the war Lutyens was to spend more than a decade designing civic war memorials, war cemeteries, village memorials, institutional memorials and individual tombs.

Lutyens received his knighthood not on the back of the myriad of domestic commissions but in recognition for his work in New Delhi and the war cemeteries.

After his death the full realisation of the debt of gratitude owed by The Imperial War Graves Commission to Lutyens and the small group of architects became apparent. It was recognised that they were fortunate to find a man in Lutyens who could rise to the height of the task that faced them in 1918; that of dedicating the genius of British architecture to the memory of a million men who died in the supreme struggle for liberty.

Stamp suggests that Lutyens’ genius lay in his fertile three dimensional imagination and the ability to continually transform classical forms into something modern whilst retaining a depth of sensitivity to the site and landscape.

 By the time Julius Drewe turned his attention to creating a garden at Castle Drogo in the mid 1920’s, his architect Edwin Lutyens carried not only the confidence of a successful man at the top of his career but also the maturity and depth of understanding available only to those who live through extraordinary and difficult  times.

In both their eyes you see the kind of maturity that is only bought at a price. I was surprised to hear that Julius Drewe’s grave in Drewsteignton church yard was also designed by Lutyens and perhaps this reflects the depth of the personal relationship and mutual respect the two must have built up.  

Thanks to Jonathan Lovie’s research we knew that Lutyens had adopted a classical and modern approach to the garden here at Drogo but I have been bowled over to discover strong similarities between Drogo’s garden and many of his war cemetery designs. Up until now this has been a missing piece in the jigsaw. It seems that Stamps suggestion that Lutyens was the master of composing endless variations on a theme is also true for Drogo. 

La Targette British cemetery. The two shelter houses and general layout are remarkably similar to the lower formal garden. The graves are planted with floribunda roses and perennials as suggested by Gertrude Jekyll to recreate a small part of England.



Villers-Brettoneax cemetery, again the same basic layout as Drogo’s garden. I have often thought the garden here at Drogo had the layout of a castle. Many of these war cemeteries also have the look of a military camp about them. 

La Neuville British Cemetery Somme (below). The raised entrance terrace is very reminiscent of the terrace surrounding Drogo’s Rose Garden.

 la neuville

Serreroad Cemetery; again a strikingly similar plan to Drogo’s formal garden complete with corner shelters, hedges and shelter belts. 

The many shelter buildings reminiscent of the Pavilion rooms at Drogo were designed to give visitors a place for quiet contemplation and prayer. Because of the cost involved they were restricted to the larger cemeteries.



To conclude this short piece, I have found it fascinating to discover that at Drogo the influences of a world war are so clearly visible in the design of the garden. Perhaps it is fitting that Lutyens should create a garden here that carries with it the memories of the fallen, thinking of Adrian, Julius’ eldest son and the castle builders who never returned from the trenches. With our focus on the anniversary of the outbreak of war, the echoes of a bygone age can still have a powerful impact in the present; I have been moved just from looking briefly at images of the war cemeteries. The challenges of war and peace are still just as fundamental to our existence as they were to that generation. In the garden here at Drogo we discover clues to suggest that our current peace and prosperity were bought at a high price. 

John Rippin, Head Gardener


Sir Edwin Lutyens – the Devon connection

When Martin Lutyens last attended the castle to address staff and volunteers, he was asked if it was true that his great uncle had designed a small house near Haytor to accommodate the Drewe family whilst Drogo was being built. He replied that he had never heard of such a scheme. However, as a member of the audience, I was prompted to reflect on how many projects Sir Edwin had been involved in with a Devonshire connection. My researches were most interesting.

The great man’s first professional foray into the county seems to have been in 1909 to meet the Duke of Bedford at Tavistock. At the time, ‘garden cities’ were all the rage and the Duke was keen to explore the possibility of developing part of the Endsleigh estate into a garden city along the lines of Bourneville or Port Sunlight. The project petered out and one wonders if the beginning of the demise of the tin mining industry might have been a contributory reason. Lutyens, who was at his peak and much in demand, was soon occupied elsewhere in similar design work at Hampstead Garden Suburb. However, his visit to Tavistock was not entirely wasted since, whilst there, he was asked to design a house for a Major Gallie. The result, Little Court, is one of Sir Edwin’s smaller country house offerings and is today privately owned. Its location on the edge of the moor and its date of origin might well have been what triggered a rumour which in turn prompted the question to Martin Lutyens.

Soon after, the Castle Drogo project commenced, which ensured a 20 year plus connection with the county for Sir Edwin and the Drewe family.

In 1921, he was commissioned by Alfred Mildmay to add an extension to his country house at Mothercombe, near Plymstock. This was one of several extensions with which he was involved at the time in different parts of the country, including Penheale in Cornwall, and which were undertaken when he was at his busiest with work on war memorials and cemeteries, not to mention New Delhi.

Sir Edwin’s final work in Devon was in 1936 when he was commissioned by Torquay Corporation to build the Drum Inn at Cockington, Torquay. The town had recently purchased the Cockington estate from private owners and were anxious to exploit its tourist potential, hence the perceived need for a pub. It survives in its original state and thrives as a tourist destination and a wedding venue.

After the conclusion of World War 1, war memorials, which are again much to the forefront of our thoughts as we approach the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of hostilities, were in great demand. Lutyens was commissioned to design many; 49 in the UK, including Exeter, 9 overseas and at least 8 private memorials for favoured friends and clients. Additionally, he was asked by the Imperial War Graves Commission ( now renamed the Commonwealth War Graves Commission) to be one of three supervisory architects to oversee the building and laying out of the many hundreds of cemeteries and memorials to the missing in Europe. He was principal architect for 136 , including the Dartmoor Cemetery, the Devonshire Cemetery and the Thiepval Memorial , all in the Somme region of France. The latter is the largest British war memorial in the world a model of which we have held at Drogo for several years.

The memorial to the Devonshire Regiment at the front of Exeter Cathedral was designed by Lutyens and unveiled in July 1921. The cross design used became known as the Lutyens cross and was used by him in several other towns in the UK. The site was chosen because the permanent home of the regiment was in Exeter and the Cathedral was the first place of worship in the county. Exeter was also where the 8th and 9th battalions of the regiment were created in September 1914 to accommodate the hundreds of those who volunteered some of whom may well have been from the Drogo workforce.

The Dartmoor Cemetery was started in 1915 as a casualty cemetery near the village of Becordel-Becourt on the Somme, whose name it was initially given. The name was changed later in 1915 to the Dartmoor Cemetery at the request of the 8th/9th Battalion of the Devonshires who were at that time manning that sector. 768 casualties are buried there, many of whom are Australians and New Zealanders and Lutyens was called upon to create the final post war layout.

On 1 July 1916, the first day of the battle of the Somme, the men of the 8/9th went ‘over the top’, their objective being to take the village of Mametz. Within a few hours 160 of them were dead, a figure that is difficult to comprehend today. Later in the day their bodies were returned to the trench from which they had departed at the beginning of the assault. Uniquely the trench was then designated a cemetery. For this reason it became famous as a battlefield cemetery despite its relatively small size. 163 men are buried there, some of whom were never identified and Lutyens is attributed on the approval form as the principal architect.

At the risk of being frivolous, I draw to your attention an unfortunate connection between Castle Drogo and the Thiepval Memorial, which displays the carved names of the 72,099 missing during the battle of the Somme in which the Devonshires were heavily involved. The flat roof of Thiepval has twice needed extensive repairs since water ingression caused potentially major damage to the facing of the memorial. Repairs were undertaken in1952/3 and again in 1970.
Finally, an interesting statistic that I came across during my researches. The total cost to the War Graves Commission of all cemeteries and memorials completed in Belgium and France, well over 900 in total, was £8.15m. The cost of one day’s shelling during September 1918 as the war reached its conclusion was £3.75m. A salutary note on which to close; someone might like to convert these figures into today’s values.

Clive Smith O.B.E