Char de Triomphe Armorial Tapestry

Creative partner, Jill Smallcombe, has been developing research to ‘deconstruct’ the history, techniques, symbolism and materials of the Char de Triomphe Armorial Tapestry. The tapestry was owned by the Drewe family in the 1900s and will be returning to the Castle in this March.

Jill has visited the National Trust Textile Conservation Studio in Norfolk to see stages of the tapestry’s restoration. The studio team have dedicated 5 years of hard work on the tapestry’s conservation to restore its colour and imagery.

Jill also had the opportunity to visit the Gobelins manufactory in Paris, where the tapestry was originally made, to research and find out about its history.

Castle Drogo will host the grand unveiling of the unlined textile in March 2015 where visitors will be able to view both sides of the Tapestry.

Here are some images of Jill’s fantastic trip to the Gobelins in Paris:


Jill outside The Mobilier National where she met Thomas Bohl, Conservateur du patrimonie. (Heritage Conservator).


These buildings house the dye works, the chapel and weaving workshops at the Gobelins.


Jill visiting the Galerie des Gobelins tapestry and furniture exhibition.


Curious about clocks

House Clocks

Collection Move 200

You may have noticed that some of the clocks in the Room of Time Passing have decided to cease working. Others are striking on the hour but not always in accordance with the time shown on the face: I’ll leave you to work out the miscreants but, a clue; it is not the long case clock.

The Horologist will be coming in over the closed season to instruct/assist when the clocks are removed from this room and when the clocks are in their new position hopefully he will be able to start them working again and sort out the incorrect striking. You may ask why not bring him in now, but at a cost in excess of £300 per day, Lucinda has to limit the time he is here. It is generally accepted that clocks dislike being moved and previously accurate clocks frequently refuse to keep time or even work.
The French Striking Mantle Clock which was in the drawing room is determined not to work. The Brass Mantle Clock from the bedroom, the small arched wooden Mantle Clock from the Man Servant’s Room and the Mantle Clock from the Work Room are all very temperamental, one week they simply stop, the next one they perform as they used to.

The three wall clocks have all had weeks when they keep time and then weeks when they refuse to work. It is essential that they are perfectly vertical and when wound on the panelling in the Room of Time Passing they tend to slide out of the vertical. The Mantle Clock from the Rayners’ Room has been the star performer and seems to be perfectly happy in its temporary position.The French Marble Mantle Clock has been returned to Adrian’s Room and is performing as before.
After a shaky start to the season the Long Case clock is now back to its best and keeping very accurate time. The clock was made by John Smith and Sons of Clerkenwell in London in the late 1890s and exhibited in Paris in 1900. This firm started in 1780 and are still trading today although no longer producing clocks. They are into the supply of non- ferrous metals and are one of the leading suppliers of clocking making brass.

Collection Move 305
Stable Clock

The turret clock was erected at Wadhurst. All four faces were in use and it was backlit with oil lamps on high days and holidays. The clock was manufactured by Gillett and Johnston of Croydon in 1905. It is a five day clock and is wound twice a week.
The plan at Castle Drogo was to incorporate the turret clock onto an arch over the entrance to the stable yard but it did not come to fruition and instead only one face was incorporated into the dormer over the entrance door to the Gardeners’ bothy.
The bell we believe was also made by Gillett and Johnston but it appears it was cast in 1929. It has a serial no 2192. It is not known if there was a bell at Wadhurst but it seems this bell was specifically made for Castle Drogo.
Gillett and Johnston were founded in 1844 and are still trading today. They started a bell foundry to complement their business in the 1880s although they sold this side of the business in 1958.During the First World War their factory in Croydon was involved with the manufacture of munitions.
Amongst their commissions over time are clocks at Eton College, Hampton Court Palace, Kensington Palace, Windsor Castle, Exeter Cathedral and Bath Abbey. They have also been involved with Automaton Clocks at Libertys of London and Wells Cathedral, and advertising/publicity clocks for among others Asda, Tesco and Waitrose. A more recent commission was for a clock on the Sandringham Estate.
The business has recently developed another line specialising in the refurbishment and redecoration of Coats of Arms.

Tony Sawyer

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).


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.


Adrian Drewe’s memorial room

 The Castle Drogo team are really pleased to be re-opening Adrian’s Room at the castle.

It is a room much loved by everyone who knows the property. It was originally created as a memorial to Julius and Francis Drewe’s son Adrian who was a Major in the Royal Garrison Artillery, sadly he was killed at Ypres on the 12th July 1917 aged only 26 years. The family originally created the room in their home at Wadhurst Hall, but when the family moved into Castle Drogo in 1928 the room was re-established here and has remained in the same room ever since.

The contents of the room were put in storage in December 2012 as part of the building project in progress at the castle, the window was taken out to be refurbished and it is the first window to be put back in situ out of 913 windows.

“The room has been re-instated exactly as it was before as the room is a designated war memorial. We felt it was important to have this room open this year with the centenary of the outbreak of WWI, particularly as the war had such a major impact on the building of the castle as well as the personal grief the family suffered with the loss of their eldest son” said House and Collections Manager Lucinda Heron.

003The room in the morning.

005Our conservation team carrying the portrait of Adrian Drewe carefully up the stairs.

006Adrian Drewe’s memorial room nearly finished


013The room is now ready for visitors.

Coming soon… a new view

Get ready for the latest widescreen panoramic viewing experience… our brand new viewing tower is now built and we are busy training up our fantastic team of volunteers to run it. Watch this space and be among the first to see Castle Drogo from a perch usually reserved for crows and sparrows!

Drogo View