Restoring the landscape vision

Early views

Castle Drogo 1940s

When Julius Drewe starting building Castle Drogo he had a clear vision of the views he wanted from his castle.

He asked Sir Edwin Lutyens to plant Scots pine trees to create a feel of the Scottish highlands leading up to the castle walls. The Scots pines were planted to shield the castle from the weather, but also planted thinly enough so that the Drewe’s could maintain key views both from the castle and into the castle from the surrounding area.

Over the years trees have self-seeded in between the Scots pines and this is a far cry from the vision that was intended. Earlier in the year some trees were cut down, the results compared to the very early photos are breathtaking.

view 1

The view of the south end of the castle 2014


view 2

The view of the south end of the castle 2015


earlt views 2

Castle Drogo still being built


September project update

P1000341  The building work is due to be finished on the central section at the end of the month, here’s some photos of the work from a trip on the roof from earlier today.


The view from the finished south roof.


Also Wes, the Clerk of Works showing the team what insulation is being used on the roof.


Building progress


The south end of the castle is now watertight, and the scaffolding over the next 5 weeks will be coming down.

Today a crane is here taking down large sections of scaffolding and it will also be putting large pieces of granite onto the roof.


It’s a very excitP1000781ing time now that one part is now completely finished, the windows are all back in and as the builders take down the scaffolding each level is being cleaned. P1000784

During the late summer the chapel will be reopen as the scafflding over the central section comes down.

A sneak peek at what’s coming

Studio visit

A sneaky snap-shop at a model-box in the making at Forkbeard Fantasy in Devon.

Towards the end of December the Creative Programming Manager, along with other team members, made a visit to see the studios of fantastic creative teams MDesign and Forkbeard Fantasy. Both teams are busily working away in their studios producing new interpretational artwork for Castle Drogo.

Both studios, based near Tiverton in Devon, have a range of exciting and adventurous works inside. The artists are developing their sculptural, interactive and humorous work. They showed the team glimpses of the drawings, sketchbooks, model boxes and animation studios.

Forkbeard Fantasy, well known for their theatrical puppetry and animations, describe themselves in the most appropriate way as ‘Architects of Humour and Invention’. Their large enchanting studio is a play-ground of not just those with creative minds but to all. Generating the ideology that ‘anything is possible’, the artists at Forkbeard are working towards an engaging experience which will be translated into the sculptures they are producing for the Castle.

The creative work to capture the history and progress of the building project at Castle Drogo is making fantastic progress and can be seen at the opening on 9th March 2015.

The men walking through the wall

During the first phase of Castle Drogo’s major building project to save the castle, Codsteaks, a creative design company, helped interpret the importance of the building project. Codsteaks sculptural work spans from looking at the details of the architectural and building work, archived letters of the building work and a tribute to stonemasons and family members who went to fight in The First World War.

As the castle moves into Phase 3 of the building project and is being creatively reinterpreted for 2015, Codsteaks visited the castle to re-install their sculptures into new spaces.

The ‘Building Section’ which was originally presented in the dining room has now been re-installed in the gun room. This structure reveals the detailed layers of materials that architect Lutyens used to build the castle. This visually helps to technically explain why the castle began to leak and what needs to be done to prevent it.

Codsteaks also re-installed the fantastic ‘Call to Arms’ sculptural piece. These three photographs below show the developmental stages of the work being re-installed.

The pictures show the sculpture being cut in half so that it can be easily moved through the castle and then re-installed on the wall in the Chapel.




This piece plays tribute to the men who were lost in the First World War. Mr Julius Drewe’s eldest son Adrian and many of the stonemasons and were sent off to war whilst Castle Drogo was being built.

These heart-felt and fascinating sculptural works will be back on display in the summer of 2015.

The next phase of the project

As the conservation project at Castle Drogo continues through the winter months we have invited 4 creative partners to produce brand new interpretation for the next phase of the building work. From next March these artists will help visitors explore why the project is so important, and to create their own artistic responses to the castle and the landscape.

Creative partners have approached this opportunity by exploring the stories of Castle Drogo, the people who built it, the family who lived here and responding to the collection, whilst the castle is going through a period of change.
Each creative partner has taken a different and diverse approach to interpret exciting areas of Castle Drogo’s history:

MDesign’s interpretational work for Castle Drogo explores the parallel timeline switching between 1915 and 2015. Using the Castles archive and the present day construction, MDesign are making playful engaging works that span from impressive films, interactive gadgets and fictional stories that explore the collection. They are also teaming up with Forkbeard Fantasy to imagine the Castle if it was left to the elements.

The Dovetail Foundry have been inspired by the buildings architecture, stories of the family and their hopes and dreams. Their installations and interpretation will involve existing collection items to explore family stories and architectural features designed by Edwin Lutyens in the early 20th century.

Jill Smallcombe’s work explores the collection of textiles at Drogo and delves into the history and conservation. Central to her interpretation will be the symbolic and powerful ‘Char de Triomphe’ tapestry which is returning to the castle in March following extensive conservation. Jill’s interpretation will show us the ‘behind the scenes’ of the Tapestry which links in closely to the current experience of the Castle which is also going through renovation.

• As a successful photographic artist, Mike Smallcombe is currently in the process of creating large scale images that link to the Castle Drogo estate and narrative threads of its history. These images will visually interpret stories of the castle and of the Drewe family as well as generating an opportunity to explore the estate in more detail.

There will be weekly updates about the development of the creative work that will be open to visitors on Monday 9 March 2015.

Unveiling of First World War Commemorative Stone at Drewsteignton

On Tuesday 11th November, a First World War commemorative stone sundial was unveiled in Drewsteignton Village Garden to mark Remembrance Day.

Tim Cambourne, Castle Drogo Project Manager said: ‘There is a very close connection between the Trust and the residents of Drewsteignton and surrounding villages. Many of the craftsmen working on the castle enlisted along with Julius Drewe’s three sons.

‘Like many of the men, the heir to Castle Drogo died at war and building work was curtailed and the Castle not completed until 1930, the walls of which are said to be memorials to its lost community of craftsmen.

‘It is for these reasons that we offered to provide this memorial, created by the craftsmen currently working on the Castle , to the parish as a gift from the National Trust and our contractors currently working on restoring the property’, he added.

Project Manager Tim Cambourne and Dave Collier unveil the commemorative stone. Credit: Steve Haywood

Project Manager Tim Cambourne and Dave Collier unveil the commemorative stone. Credit: Steve Haywood

Bill Savage, Chairman of Drewsteignton Parish Council said: ‘Castle Drogo and the Drewe family have played an important part in the parish of Drewsteignton for 100 years. When the castle was being constructed many of the workers from this and neighbouring parishes left to fight in the First World War. A century later we find major renovation works being undertaken by the National Trust at the castle and the Parish Council were thrilled when the Trust & their contactors, William Anelay Ltd, approached us offering to erect a commemorative stone to the war in the parish. Negotiations between the Council & Tim Cambourne, Senior Project Manager with the National Trust, have resulted in this wonderful monument in the village garden at Drewsteignton.

The sundial inscription Credit: Steve Haywood

The sundial inscription
Credit: Steve Haywood

The sundial Credit: Steve Haywood

The sundial
Credit: Steve Haywood

Edwin Lutyens who was commissioned by Julius Drewe to design the castle and grounds, also designed the Thiepval memorial and Cenotaph memorials. His contribution links local, national and international memory.