Rare chance to see Grayson Perry tapestry at Castle Drogo

A rare chance to see a vibrant tapestry by artist Grayson Perry, created for his popular Tomb of the Unknown Craftsman exhibition at The British Museum, is set to be displayed at the National Trust’s Castle Drogo from Saturday 5th March.

The 15ft wide Map of Truths and Beliefs, created by Perry in 2011, will be part of the new Truth and Triomphe exhibition at the castle. Perry’s tapestry will be hung alongside a French masterpiece, the 300 year old Char de Triomphe, made for King Louis XIV and believed to have hung in the Palace of Versailles during his reign. Continue reading…

Teign Spirits – an exhibition of large scale contemporary photographs in the landscape at Castle Drogo

Mike Smallcombe with one of his pictures on display at Castle Drogo

Mike Smallcombe with one of his pictures on display at Castle Drogo

As the huge 5-year building conservation project to save Castle Drogo continues, artists have been invited to create new contemporary artworks to respond to and interpret the project and the fascinating history of the site.

One of the creative partners working at Castle Drogo is the established photographer Mike Smallcombe. For the past year Mike has been gathering stories and images to create a series of ten large-scale photographs to display around the site.

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Saving Castle Drogo – Nothing is normal

Imagine what would happen if the worst of the Dartmoor weather and wildlife was allowed to creep into Castle Drogo….

Imagine what would happen if the worst of the Dartmoor weather and wildlife was allowed to creep into Castle Drogo….

What might happen if Castle Drogo was left to the elements? From 9 March, a perfect glass ‘drip’ suspended in a trophy cabinet, a room where Dartmoor appears to have taken over, help bring to life the castle’s past and give an insight into how it’s being saved.

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Unveiling of World War I Commemorative Stone at Drewsteignton

Armistice Day memorial Sundial created by Stonemason's at Castle Drogo and given to the village of Drewsteignton

Armistice Day memorial Sundial created by Stonemason’s at Castle Drogo and given to the village of Drewsteignton

A World War I commemorative stone sundial was unveiled in Drewsteignton Village Garden yesterday, marking 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.

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Specialist crane lifts tonne lintels back onto England’s last castle

Pictures By Steven Haywood - 100 tonne Crane at Castle Drogo lifting 1 tonne Lintels into place above a window section of the Castle.

Pictures By Steven Haywood – 100 tonne Crane at Castle Drogo lifting 1 tonne Lintels into place above a window section of the Castle.

Ever since Castle Drogo was built 100 years ago, it has let in the Dartmoor rain. With water pouring in from the roof, walls and windows, by 2012 the situation was critical, and this spectacular granite building could have been lost.

Following a massive appeal, work has begun in earnest on repairing the castle.  Today saw  a specialist 100 tonne crane arrive at the property to lift a series of granite lintels, each weighing little over 1 tonne, as well as a large oak beam back onto the roof structure.

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Getting under the skin of Castle Drogo

-With work to save Castle Drogo in full swing, visitors with a head for heights now have the chance to climb some stairs to reach a 20-metre high viewing platform set above the roof. Taking in breathtaking views of the Teign valley and Dartmoor on the way up, from the top there’s a bird’s eye view of all the painstaking and skilled conservation work going on.

From 8 March, Castle Drogo is fully open every day, and this is a unique opportunity to get ‘under the skin’ of the last castle built in England. This stunning fortress was designed by Edwin Luytens, one of the greatest architects of the twentieth century, as an ancestral family home with all the latest mod-cons for Julius Drewe, a grocery millionaire who retired at just 33.

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Volunteers needed to defend Castle Drogo

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The next few years promise to be busy ones for the National Trust at Castle Drogo.  This is the most exciting time in the history of the castle since its initial construction. After receiving funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund and Interreg, a European grant, work has started on a 5 year major building project to save this iconic place from assault from wind and rain. What’s great is that the Castle will stay open for the entire project and the mammoth task of erecting the huge scaffolding structure over the southern half of the castle has now begun.

The scaffolding will be one of the largest structures on Dartmoor. The carefully designed Scandinavian HAKI system, which is quicker to erect than traditional scaffolding, is designed to be able to withstand the extreme Dartmoor weather, while protecting the building as the work progresses. The massive buttresses will hold the temporary roof in place and withstand huge wind loads; it is 10 lifts high.

But what the castle still needs are more volunteers to help tell its story.  There are loads of opportunities for people to get involved as volunteers, from Room Guiding and conservation cleaning to car parking and managing the estate. The latest opportunity is to run the scaffold viewing tower; a platform is being erected within the scaffolding for visitors to be able to safely get to roof level and get a birds eye view of the incredible work taking place.

Tim Cambourne, Senior Project Manager, says “Castle Drogo is such a fascinating property and this is a great time to be involved. We are starting one of the most ambitious conservation projects the National Trust has ever embarked on but we need volunteers to help us bring this project alive.  The next four years will be hard work, and a period of great change, the result will be to save the castle so it can be enjoyed by generations to come”

As a charity, the National Trust is dependent on the help of its volunteers. It would not be possible to open Castle Drogo without the volunteers who generously give their time.  If you would like to do something that is interesting, enjoyable and rewarding, why not consider getting involved? You can meet new people, learn new things, use your skills and, of course, have fun.

Whatever your interests or availabilities, there is a volunteer role for you so why not see another side of Drogo and spend your time in beautiful, grand surroundings, by joining the team and helping to ensure the future of this fabulous place.

You do not need any prior knowledge of the property as all necessary information, training and full support is provided. Also travelling expenses are reimbursed and you get the opportunity to learn new skills, meet new people and go out for trips and meals.

To find out more about any of the volunteering opportunities at Castle Drogo, please contact Sarah Lawrence, Volunteer Development Officer, on 01647 434114 or email sarah.lawrence@nationaltrust.org.uk.

Dramatic installations tell the story of Castle Drogo amidst major building work

Bryher Mason House & Collections Manager at Castle Drogo looking at the Tea Chest Castle part of the interpretationOne of the largest projects ever undertaken by the National Trust to save Castle Drogo in Devon from certain ruin has  now begun.

The castle has suffered major structural problems ever since completion resulting in serious leaks and water penetration throughout the building. Without extensive conservation work the castle would eventually have become inaccessible and this national treasure would have been lost forever.

Although building work will have a dramatic influence on what visitors will see at Castle Drogo for the next five years, the Castle will be very much open to visitors during this time.

Visitors will have the opportunity to learn all about the castle’s history via a series of theatrical installations by Codsteaks, a company of designers best known for their scenery for films with Aardman Animations such as ‘The Pirates! In an adventure with Scientists!’

Dramatic installations, based on letters, postcards and plans from the archive, will show how and why Castle Drogo was originally built. Visitors will immediately understand how Mr Drewe made enough money to build his very own family castle and why it was built on Dartmoor. They will discover how a dedicated team of stone masons and craftsmen helped the renowned architect Sir Edwin Lutyens create his masterpiece, and how sometimes things were not as straightforward as Lutyens, Drewe and their clerk of works, J.C Walker, hoped they would be.

Visitors will also learn about the challenges in saving this 20th century castle and why Antony Drewe offered the castle to the National Trust.

Spaces unaffected by the building work have been used to store the castle’s contents safely, so no room will have the ‘lived in’ look it used to have. Instead, objects have been grouped and displayed in new ways, to help tell the story of the family, their lives and times. Two rooms, newly open to the public, are now stores where conservation work can be carried out by the staff. Here, visitors will get a chance to see this work close up and understand better how the objects in the collection are cared for.

Finally through the windows at the top of the castle there will be the chance to enjoy the changing views down the Teign gorge and contemplate the river where Mr Drewe enjoyed fishing for salmon on his new estate, living the life of a country gentleman in the shadow of the castle he dreamt of.

In a few months time, visitors will get chance to experience a ‘once in a lifetime’ chance to scale the outside of the castle walls on a scaffolding tower. They will see for themselves the re-pointing and re-roofing work that is essential to the building’s survival, and be able to take in the views across Dartmoor which makes this place so special.

The whole project will be brought alive by the volunteer team who will help present the castle in a completely new way with rooms never before seen open to the public.

The castle opens to the public on Saturday 9th March daily until the 3rd November.

Castle Drogo: Inside Out, an opportunity to win tickets to our VIP private view, 7 March 2013

 

Removing the tapestries at Castle Drogo prior to building work starting

It is with huge excitement and following several generous donations (including significant gifts from the Heritage Lottery Fund and Interreg) that we have, last month, embarked upon a five year restoration project to make Castle Drogo watertight.  Work to the roof, windows and walls will stem the steady ingress of water into the castle’s underlying structure which is putting it at risk of closure and eventual collapse.

Castle Drogo will remain open to the public throughout the project.  It is vital that we continue to attract 120,000+ visitors each year in order to support the running of the castle and the wider estate during the next few crucial years. 

What you experience when you visit Castle Drogo (and we do hope you will!) from March will be very different to what you have seen previously and indeed to what you might expect on a typical historic house visit. 

The route around the castle will change with new, previously unseen spaces open.  Visitor information will change in phases during the project, providing an opportunity for us to highlight different stories and explore a range of themes through creative interpretation.  Initially, we will tell visitors about the key characters that were instrumental in bringing this incredible vision to life, through letters, photographs and imaginative installations created by 3-D designers, Codsteaks.

Lutyens’ remarkable design will be seen in a new light, as the castle’s contents are moved to areas untouched by the building work to protect them, and rooms under scaffold are darkened while windows are removed for renovation.

We have six pairs of tickets to give away to our readers / twitter followers for a VIP private view of the new visitor experience at Castle Drogo before it is open to the public later in March.

This exclusive event will take place on Thursday 7 March.  Tickets are valid for one of two time slots, one afternoon, one evening.  After the viewing (which we estimate will take an hour or so), you will be welcome to join us for light refreshments in the castle’s magnificent entrance hall where you’ll be able to meet the team behind the project.  We hope you’ll give us your honest feedback to enable us to make any changes before we open to the public. 

To enter, simply reply in the comments section of this blog or tweet us @SaveCastleDrogo and tell us:

Why is Castle Drogo special to you?

 The competition is open now and winners will be selected at random on Friday 22 February.

 Good luck!