Place: Castle Drogo

What do you think of when someone says “castle”?

Crenelated battlements and towers, or the ruins of medieval walls? Something old and solid, impossible to heat, even with the massive hearths big enough for tree trunks?

Castle Drogo ticks most boxes for a castle: it has battlements and towers; it was built with granite; it stands in a good defensive position on Dartmoor; and never mind the heating bills, the roof leaked from day one, pretty much.

The reason it isn’t yet a ruin is because it’s barely a hundred years old, and now the National Trust run it, stands a good chance of not becoming a ruin. They’ve even had a go at fixing the roof, due to be completed by the end of 2019 (so when we visited this summer, the whole building was still clad in scaffolding and protective tarpaulins).

Designed by Edwin Lutyens in 1910 for Julius Drewe of the Home and Colonial Stores, with a budget of £50,000, the castle, the last to be built in England, was completed in 1930, only a third of the size of the original plans. It’s still pretty big, though.

One of the more fascinating things is that it has a hydroelectricity plant, originally installed in 1929, using the River Teign to power the entire castle. Restored in 2017, it now also powers the visitor centre.

We shall have to return next year when the roof is fixed and the scaffolding has been taken away.


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