Castle Drogo, Devon
by Miriam Bibby & Elizabeth Craig-Johnson
A country house and castle near Exeter which has the distinction of being the last castle to be built in England. The castle was commissioned by Julius Drewe, the retail entrepreneur who established ‘The Home and Colonial Stores’ which made him a millionaire by the age of 33. Building work began on this entirely granite structure in 1911 in the village of Drewsteignton which was named after Drewes’ supposed ancestor and inspiration for the castle, Norman Baron Drogo de Teigne. Drewe commissioned Edwin Lutyens to design his new castle. Lutyens was at the height of his fame as the architect of the English country house, having already completed his Lindisfarne Castle project for Edward Hudson, editor of Country Life.
Castle Drogo, standing on a commanding position overlooking the River Teign, offered an opportunity to use a very different plan. However, Lutyens sympathetically combined the themes of comfortable home and medieval atmosphere as he had at Lindisfarne. Set within 600 acres of park and formal garden, Castle Drogo is a modern interpretation of medieval themes. The stark, block-shaped granite exterior with mullioned windows contains comfortable tapestry-hung rooms The outbreak of the First World War and the Great Depression delayed the project somewhat and the castle was not completed until 1930, a year before Drewe passed away. Drewe’s grandson and great-grandson gave the property to the National Trust in 1974.