Teign Spirits – an exhibition of large scale contemporary photographs in the landscape at Castle Drogo


As the huge 5-year building conservation project to save Castle Drogo continues, artists have been invited to create new contemporary artworks to respond to and interpret the project and the fascinating history of the site.

Visitors to the castle over the next two years will find that ‘nothing is normal’.  The building work which will make the Lutyens’ designed building watertight for the first time in its history, has presented a rare opportunity for people to get up close to the conservation work and view the interior of the house as never before!

One of the creative partners working at Castle Drogo is the established photographer Mike Smallcombe. For the past year Mike has been gathering stories and images to create a series of ten large-scale photographs to display around the site.

Mike’s work aims to represent the human story of Castle Drogo and the surrounding landscape to create intriguing and rich images. The inspiration of these photographs will bring a wider understanding of the castle, inspired by the people who lived there, the history of the estate and the landscape of Dartmoor.

The photographs add another fascinating layer to the new 2015 visitor experience at Castle Drogo.  The ten high resolution images each measuring approximately 3m x 2m and printed on waterproof canvas, are suspended between trees in the formal garden and around the wider estate near Hunter’s Path, Fingle Bridge and along the River Teign for visitors to discover.

The images reference such stories and places as Julius Drewe’s passion for salmon fishing in the River Teign, the Waifs and Strays Society, the charcoal burning that used to take place in the valley, and Blackenstone Quarry where much of the granite used to build the castle was sourced. 


The exhibition aims to connect more people to this special place, highlighting links between the house, garden and estate, as well as some of the lesser known stories of the surrounding landscape.    A map of locations will help visitors to discover the photographs.  A number are in the immediate grounds and others displayed further afield, encouraging walks out onto the estate.

Creative Programme Manager Louise Donovan says, ‘This is an exciting and ambitious project for Castle Drogo and we expect that the stunning images will intrigue and delight our current audience as well as introducing the stunning garden and estate to new visitors.’

Mike Smallcombe is a photographer/artist living and working from his Devon studio for the past 21 years, and on projects in London.  In 2007 he won the photography award at the Exeter Contemporary Open, and in 2008 Mike was awarded Arts Council funding for his touring exhibition Ghosts in the Wood shown at Haldon Forest, Exeter, Kielder Forest, Northumberland and Grizedale Forest in the Lake District.


The south end is now watertight

The south end is now watertight

The south end of Castle Drogo is now watertight. A month ago the scaffolding came off to show the castle is all its glory. All of the windows have been cleaned and we’d forgotten how good the views of Dartmoor are.


Currently the central section of building work will be finished by September, and then the scaffolding dismantled. There is a great view of the south end from Hunter’s path and from the front door.Because every stone has been cleaned it is looking brand new! It’s also much more obvious that Sir Edwin Lutyens, the architect, chose specific granite blocks, as there are very subtle colours on the south end ranging from orange to black (the black colour is because the mineral tourmaline is present in granite and was cut in such a way that the tourmaline is on the outer face of the stone).

Thank you to everyone who has supported the project the south end wouldn’t be watertight without your help.