Castle Drogo, Cornwall, Devon, Drewsteignton, Edwin Lutyens, Hayle, Home and Colonial, Julius Drewe, National Trust
Well, not strictly Cornwall, but Devon. Monday 4th July. I had sadly from my patio to say goodbye to the birds on the RSPB Hayle Estuary reserve, and start making my way home.
I was not going to be able to pick Bella up from her cattery until 4.30, so had plenty of time to make one last visit, and chose the National Trust’s Castle Drogo, near Exeter, a 20th century castle. I saw a robin in the grounds, and realised I had not seen one all week.
Castle Drogo was built by Julius Drewe, founder of the hugely successful Home and Colonial Stores . (He retired on his fortune in 1889 aged only 33.) He was convinced that he was descended from a Norman baron called called Drogo de Teigne, from Drewsteignton, and bought land there, overlooking the River Teign, to build a castle. He asked Edwin Lutyens to be its architect. Lutyens would much have preferred to design ‘a delicious loveable house’, but Drewe insisted. Construction started in 1911, but in the event, he lost heart after losing his eldest son in the First World War, and started to dislike the cost of it all, and only about a third of the original concept was realised by the time construction was completed in 1930. Drewe died a year later, but had been able to live there since 1925. It is the last castle to be built in England.
I just loved its Art Nouveau Tudor style. (That’s my description; I’ve not seen it elsewhere, and Wikipedia calls it ‘mixed-revivalist’.) It is entirely built in granite, and was given to the National Trust in 1974, its first 20th century acquisition.
The building may have been twentieth century, but the collected pieces were authentic.
To reach the undercroft, which became the chapel in the revised design, it is necessary to go outside. A chance to see the wonderful granite blocks again.
After some lunch in the recent visitor centre and cafe building, I spent an hour or so wandering in the gardens. The rose garden was outstanding, and would have been even more stunning had it been brighter and warmer. (It seems strange to be saying that at a time when UK all-time heat records have just been broken by a considerable margin.)
My final stop was at the circular lawn, where a mesmerising robot lawnmower entertained me for a few minutes.
But let my final picture in this series of posts about this so enjoyable holiday in Cornwall – and Devon – be of the class of animals which had given me such pleasure all week, the birds. Much more entertaining on the lawn than the robot was a pied wagtail, a species which, as with the robin, I hadn’t seen all week.