On Friday I’ll have been in the southwest for two weeks enjoying stays in favourite places : Lyme Regis, Ashburton and now Chagford. One of Sir Edwin Lutyens‘s masterpieces Castle Drogo is just a few miles away from our cottage and I decided to revisit on this glorious autumn dayVisitor Centre at Castle Drogo
Many years have passed since my previous visit to Castle Drogo. On our annual autumn visits to Devon we’ve often driven along the A382 or visited Gidleigh Park for tea and seen its towering presence over the valley. In more recent years it’s been tucked inside a huge plastic bag that has been waving in the wind. It’s now not far off being stripped of its scaffolding as Phase 3 is underway and next year the five years of intensive conservation and rebuilding will be finished and once again the Drogo will be the crowning glory this area of Devon/Dartmoor.
Saving Castle Drogo : Phase 3
Earlier Phases Completed
The Main Entrance
Unfortunately, now that the school holidays are over, the house/castle is only open at weekends so I didn’t get to see the Grayson Perry tapestry Truth and Triomphe. But lovely, blonde Becca on Visitor Reception duty, kindly recommended a walk in the gardens, which were looking rather colourless now at this time of year, but with dashes of autumn colour here and there; part of the Teign Spirits Trail – the one mile Gorge-ous Views walk that takes you to the Sharp Tor viewpoint – and in both I found some of photographer Mike Smallcombe’s 10 large scale photographs which tell Castle Drogo’s stories. The high resolution images measure 3m x 2m and are printed on waterproof canvas. They are suspended between trees in the formal garden and around the wider estate near Hunter’s path, Fingle Bridge and along the River Teign to discover. Thank you, Becca!
Formal Gardens at Castle Drogo
Sheltered Corner of the Garden
The Baby, or Bunty, House
“Complete with its own miniature garden, peek through the windows of this tiny house where generations of Drewe children played.” The house will be uprooted and placed inside the Castle in order to preserve it and replaced with a replica which children will again be able to play in.
“Waifs : In 1939, the Drewe family allowed the Waifs and Strays Society to use part of the castle to accommodate children made homeless by the London blitz. The photograph features a young 1940s boy and girl.”
Overlooking the Croquet Lawn : “River power : Modern power was an important feature of life at Castle Drogo. Electricity was generated by the Turbine House, designed by Lutyens and located 200 feet below the castle on the opposite bank of the Teign.”
“Adrian Drewe was the eldest son of Julius and Frances. There is a painting of Adrian dressed in a blue suit in the Missing objects room. It references the death of Adrian who was killed in 1917 at Ypres.”
Setting Off on the Gorge-ous Walk
From the main car park walk down the drive following signs for Teign Valley Walks. At the above sign follow yellow arrows on a grassy path across the common.
“Girl in the Red Dress : Julius Drewe was said to have first seen his future wife Frances wearing a red dress in a hotel lobby in Brighton. A girl standing on the banks of the river dressed in a long period dress in bright red is seen across the river from the other bank.”
Girl in the Red Dress at the Start of the Walk
Signpost and Fungi on Hunters Path
At the bottom of a short, steep slope turn right and follow Hunters Path towards the castle. At Sharp Tor stop to admire the view.
Hunters Path to Sharp Tor
Sharp Tor View Towards Dartmoor and Chagford
Hunters Path Continues
Dartmoor ponies help keep the bracken down and the grass short
Continue up the flight of steps and through more common land with views of the Castle and back to the driveway and car park.
Castle Drogo and Dartmoor
And so back to the Visitor Centre for a warming vegetable soup and chunk of home baked bread. Yumm!
Love the photo installations; the NT are getting good with using all they can to encourage many visitors to explore entire estates rather than just the “main” attraction.
You are quite right, Fran. And I was sorry not to do the extended walk and see the other photos. They made me think and find out more about the castle’s history.
How nice to be reminded of an impressive place I also visited long ago, in the early 1990s! Would have liked to accompany you on that walk and to view the photo installations.
Well, as I said before, I am happy to arrange walks at any time ;-), QB.