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HER Number:MDV32487
Name:Castle Drogo estate and gardens, Drewsteignton


Extensive early 20th century formal gardens at Castle Drogo, designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens and George Dillistone or R Wallace and Company. Constructed on a previously undeveloped site. Includes listing for walls, paths and steps of garden north-east of Castle Drogo.


Grid Reference:SX 727 901
Map Sheet:SX79SW
Admin AreaDartmoor National Park
Civil ParishDrewsteignton
DistrictWest Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishDREWSTEIGNTON

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • Historic Park or Garden: GD1420
  • National Monuments Record: SX79SW27
  • National Record of the Historic Environment: 762526
  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX79SW/30/1
  • Old Listed Building Ref (II): 94823
  • Old Listed Building Ref (II*): 1420

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • FORMAL GARDEN (Constructed, Edwardian to Mid 20th Century - 1910 AD to 1950 AD (Between))
  • PLEASURE GARDEN (Constructed, Early 20th Century to Mid 20th Century - 1920 AD to 1950 AD (Between))
  • STEPS (Built, Early 20th Century - 1920 AD to 1920 AD (Throughout))
  • WALL (Built, Early 20th Century - 1920 AD to 1920 AD (Throughout))

Full description

Jekyll Microfilm (Record Office Collection). SDV244989.

Other details: Item 128.

Unknown, 1945, Unknown title, 244-247 (Article in Serial). SDV244992.

Unknown, 1945, Untitled Source, 200-203 (Article in Serial). SDV244991.

Nmr/jekyll microfilm/item 128.

Unknown, 1975, Ga the Garden, 426-429 (Unknown). SDV244986.

Synge, P. M., 1977 - 1997, The Gardens of Britain, 29-30 (Monograph). SDV35790.

Thomas, G. S., 1979, The Gardens of the National Trust, 111-112 (Monograph). SDV61431.

National Trust, 1982, Castle Drogo (Leaflet). SDV277065.

Brown, J., 1982, Untitled Source, 171 (Monograph). SDV244993.

Other details: Author: Jane Brown.

Unknown, 1985, Unknown title, 60-62 (Article in Serial). SDV244990.

Department of Environment, 2003, Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest in England (Devon) (Register of Parks and Gardens in England). SDV314512.

Keep, C., 2009, Jekyll in Devon?, 3 (Article in Serial). SDV347273.

Gertrude Jekyll was consulted over plans for the site at Castle Drogo with regard to which was best to define the drive, a ha-ha or fence. Jekyll suggested her own scheme using the existing trees to outline the drive with additional planting enhanced with non-native species nearer the castle. Her scheme was not implemented, however, but neither were the ha-ha or fence.

Ordnance Survey, 2011, MasterMap (Cartographic). SDV346129.

English Heritage, 2011, National Heritage List for England (National Heritage List for England). SDV347072.

(Historic Parks and Gardens listing 1987) Early 20th century formal gardens with elements designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens and George Dillistone of R Wallace and Company for an early 20th century castle designed by Lutyens for Julius Drewe. Gertrude Jekyll advised on the planting for the approach, and the formal landscape around the house is linked to the adjoining managed moorland and steep river valley by a series of walks which allow dramatic views of the wider landscape, and of Castle Drogo itself.
Castle Drogo was constructed from 1910 on a previously undeveloped site. The Tithe map (1840) indicates that the site was marginal grazing land on the upper slopes of the steep valley of the River Teign, with an area of woodland, Twenty Acre Plantation, 200 meters north of the river, and an area of poor pasture, Piddledown Common, extending some 1.5 kilometres along the valley. To the east Hunting Gate gave access to Drewston Common, while the walk now known as the Hunters' Path was established by the late 19th century. The 1st and 2nd edition Ordnance Survey maps (1885 and 1906) show that the site remained substantially unchanged when it was acquired by Julius Drewe in 1910.
Julius Drewe (1856-1931) founded the Home and Colonial Stores in 1883 and rapidly amassed a considerable fortune; in 1899 he bought Wadhurst Hall, Kent, establishing himself as a landed gentleman. Soon after, a genealogist persuaded Drewe that he was descended from the Norman Drogo family, one of whom gave his name to Drewsteignton in the 12th century. Changing the spelling of his name from Drew to the more authentic Drewe, Julius recovered family property in East Devon, and subsequently decided to establish an estate at Drewsteignton. The site chosen for the proposed Castle was glebe land, but as Drewe's cousin, Richard Peek, was rector of Drewsteignton, he was able to purchase it in 1910. Further land was acquired, including Whiddon Park, a 16th century deer park on the south side of the Teign gorge. By the time of Drewe's death in 1931 his estate comprised 1500 acres (625 hectares). Edwin Lutyens (1869-1944) was commissioned to produce plans for a castle and gardens in August 1910. The new house was to have genuine defensive characteristics, and was intended by Drewe as a commemoration of his Norman ancestry. The initial scheme with a courtyard plan and a massive barbican to the north-east was modified several times from late 1911, and progress on the building was delayed by the outbreak of war in 1914. It was finally completed in its present reduced form in 1930. Lutyens produced a scheme for formal terraced gardens on the east side of the Castle in 1915, which was further elaborated in 1921 with a rill, pools and a circular lawn, all enclosed by yew hedges. This scheme was abandoned as Drewe was unhappy about the terracing it entailed, and because he felt that the garden would be overlooked by the service quarters. A new plan was obtained in 1922 from R Wallace and Co of Tunbridge Wells, whose partner, George Dillistone, had previously worked for Drewe at Wadhurst Hall. A new secluded site to the west of the Castle was chosen for the formal terraced garden, and the area to the east was allowed to merge gradually with the surrounding landscape. The plan and some of the details of the formal garden at Castle Drogo is recalled at the slightly later Castle Tor, Torquay where Dillistone is believed to have worked with Lutyens' pupil Fred Harrild from 1929.
Drewe's eldest son had been killed in Flanders in 1917, and Castle Drogo was inherited by his second son Basil in 1931. It remained in the family until 1974, when Anthony Drewe and his son, Dr Christopher Drewe gave the Castle and 600 acres (250 hectares) to the National Trust.
LOCATION, AREA, BOUNDARIES, LANDFORM, SETTING Castle Drogo is situated about 2.0 kilometres south-west of the village of Drewsteignton and about 3.0 kilometres north-east of Chagford, to the east of the A382. The 60 hectare site, which comprises around 3.0 hectares of formal gardens, around 12 hectares of informal grounds around the Castle and principal drive, and about 45 hectares of managed landscape within the Teign gorge, is principally enclosed by traditional banks and hedges to the north, east and west, and by the River Teign to the south. The Castle and formal and informal gardens occupy a level spur of high ground which drops sharply to the west and south allowing dramatic views to Dartmoor and into the Teign valley. To the south the River Teign runs in a deep gorge with a rocky outcrop, Sharp Tor, some 700 meters south-east of the house, while Whiddon Wood and the 16th cemntury deer park, Whiddon Park, outside the site boundary on the north-facing slope of the gorge, are significant in creating views from the Castle and informal grounds.
ENTRANCES AND APPROACHES Castle Drogo is approached from a minor lane to the north. About 1 kilometre west of Drewsteignton the lane reaches a rondpoint formed by clipped beech hedges which enclose areas of mown grass planted with groups of ilex oak to the north-west and south-east of the road. The gravel and tarmac drive ascends south-east for 190 meters between grass verges with mature beech to reach a simple barbican formed from clipped yew. Continuing for a further 270 meters with a series of vistas through the beeches north-east to Drewsteignton below, the drive reaches an open grassy summit planted with specimen ilex oaks. Turning south and south-west there are significant views across the Teign gorge to Whiddon Park and the rural landscape beyond before the drive falls slightly and passes through an area of light woodland for around 530 meters. The planting to the north-west screens the formal gardens, while that to the south-east controls views to the wider landscape and heightens the effect of the open lawns adjacent to the house. A gravelled carriage court lies to the north-west of the Castle and is enclosed to the south-west and north-west by low granite parapets which allow wide views over the surrounding landscape to Dartmoor. The entrance to the service quarters north of the Castle is concealed by high clipped yew hedges which suggest fortifications or the plan of the projected great hall. The stables, coach house and garages built around 1930 (listed grade II) lie around 50 meters north-east of the Castle. The planting scheme for the drive and approach to the Castle was planned by Gertrude Jekyll (1843-1932) in 1915 (Brown 1982).
PRINCIPAL BUILDING (see main record PRN 8470)
GARDENS AND PLEASURE GROUNDS The formal gardens and pleasure grounds lie to the north and north-west of the Castle. A gravel terrace walk extends around 150 meters north-north-east from the carriage court, and is enclosed to the north-west by a yew hedge. The steep bank below this terrace is planted with mixed mature trees, under which a collection of rhododendrons, magnolias and camellias was established by Mr and Mrs Basil Drewe in the 1950s.
The formal terraced gardens approximately 100 meters north-east of the house are screened from it and from the drive and north-east terrace walk by belts of deciduous trees. A gravel walk which leaves the north-east terrace approximately 75 meters north-east of the carriage court runs approximately 50 meters east-north-east before entering the formal gardens through a pair of timber gates and a flight of stone steps to become the axial walk running south-west to north-east through the gardens. The lower terrace forms the Rose Garden with raised terraces to north and south planted as herbaceous borders, the slate-edged gravel paths following a geometric Indian pattern copied by Lutyens. At each corner of the terrace yew-hedged arbours enclose late 20th century cast-iron frames covered by parrotia, which replace the original arbours of weeping elm. The lower, central area of the terrace comprises a lawn with square rose beds and flagged paving forming a chequered pattern at each corner. Below the random granite stone retaining walls of the upper terrace walks are mixed borders derived from Dillistone's 1927 planting scheme (garden guide). Stone steps to the north-east of the Rose Garden are flanked by wisteria and yuccas, and ascend to the second terrace which is enclosed by yew hedges with recesses for timber seats to the north-east. Slate-edged beds are planted with herbs and lavender. A double flight of stone steps leads up to the sloping shrub borders which were designed by Dillistone in 1927. Some 50 meters north-east a further flight of stone steps flanked by specimen conifers leads to a circular lawn approximately 55 meters in diameter and enclosed by yew hedges approximately 3.0 meters high which was originally used as a tennis lawn. The terrace walls, steps and other structural elements of the formal gardens are all listed grade II.
Some 10 meters south of the steps leading to the Tennis Lawn is a small, rustic, timber and thatched building known as the Luncheon Hut, which was used by the family for meals on visits to the site before the house was completed. In a corresponding position approximately 15 meters north of the steps is The Bunty House, a 1930s children's play house set in a pale-fenced garden of herbaceous plants with a crazy-paved path leading to the door. The Bunty House stands at the east end of a woodland walk which returns through mature beech trees underplanted with shrubs outside the north-east side of the formal gardens to a yew arch at the end of the north-east terrace walk. Another late 20th century walk leads east from The Bunty House to the late 20th century visitors' reception building designed by Anthony Hollow and extended by Anthony Harrison adjacent to the car park which has been planted with specimen trees and which is enclosed by beech hedges.
The chapel garden at the south-west corner of the house is enclosed to the south-west by the low stone structure of the chapel, and to the south-east and north-east by the towering walls of the Castle. A curved edge upper lawn is reached by stone steps below the gatehouse; further steps descend to a patterned stone-flagged path and further lawns. Flanking borders are simply planted with box topiary, and a fig and other shrubs are trained on the walls. To the south-west and south of the Castle areas of mown grass merge with groups of pines, hazel and other apparently natural planting as the ground drops away. South-east of the house a level terrace known as Mr Drewe's Walk leads some 400 meters east through the light screen of woodland south of the drive, and has views south across the Teign gorge.
KITCHEN GARDEN The early 20th century kitchen garden lay approximately 400 meters south of the house in the valley near Coome. No longer surviving, the site of the kitchen garden is outside the registered site.
OTHER LAND To the west, south and south-east of the Castle and gardens the steep south- and west-facing slopes of the Teign gorge were marginal grazing land up to the Second World War. No longer grazed, these areas are managed to preserve the open landscape which contrasts with the areas of oak woodland outside the site, and which allows significant views to and from the Castle. Existing footpaths including the Hunters' Path and the riverside Fisherman's Path were retained by Drewe as part of a network of relatively level terraced walks on the south-facing valley side.
Also LB UID: 94823
Walls, paths and steps of formal, gardens. Circa 1920. Designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens and George Dillstone. Granite stone rubble and coursed blocks of granite ashlar. North of Castle Drogo are the formal gardens on a series of terraces. The lower terrace is the Rose Garden, the middle terrace has shrub borders and the upper terrace contains a circular croquet lawn. A straight central path leads through the centre of the lower two terraces to the croquet lawn and rises in a series of granite ashlar steps. The flower beds and terraces are revetted with low walls. The central pauterre of the rose garden use an Indian motif composed of equal lengths of straight, curve, straight, reverse curve, straight and so on. There are small arbours in the corners of the Rose Garden. The main architectural effect of the garden is from the box yew hedges. Source: E. S. Thomas. Gardens of the National Trust (1979) pp 111-112. National Trust Guide Castle Drogo Gardens (1984). Jane Brown Gardens of a Golden Afternoon pp 146-171 Other details: Historic Parks and Gardens UID: 1420.

Steinmetzer, M., 2013, Archaeological monitoring and recording at Castle Drogo, Devon (Report - Watching Brief). SDV359807.

No evidence for archaeological activity was exposed during the erection of the scaffolding; partly due to the shallow nature of the groundworks.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV244986Unknown: Unknown. 1975. Ga the Garden. Unknown. Unknown. 426-429.
SDV244989Record Office Collection: Jekyll Microfilm. National Monuments Record Index. Microfilm.
SDV244990Article in Serial: Unknown. 1985. Unknown title. Country Life. Unknown. 60-62.
SDV244991Article in Serial: Unknown. 1945. Country Life. Unknown. 200-203.
SDV244992Article in Serial: Unknown. 1945. Unknown title. Country Life. Unknown. 244-247.
SDV244993Monograph: Brown, J.. 1982. Gardens of a Golden Afternoon - Story of a Partnership: Edwin Lutyens and G. Unknown. 171.
SDV277065Leaflet: National Trust. 1982. Castle Drogo. National Trust Field Guide.
SDV314512Register of Parks and Gardens in England: Department of Environment. 2003. Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest in England (Devon). Historic Houses Register: Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic. Unknown.
SDV346129Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 2011. MasterMap. Ordnance Survey. Map (Digital). [Mapped feature: #87475 ]
SDV347072National Heritage List for England: English Heritage. 2011. National Heritage List for England. Website.
SDV347273Article in Serial: Keep, C.. 2009. Jekyll in Devon?. The Devon Gardens Trust Journal. 2. A4 Paperback + Digital. 3.
SDV35790Monograph: Synge, P. M.. 1977 - 1997. The Gardens of Britain. The Gardens of Britain. 1. Unknown. 29-30.
SDV359807Report - Watching Brief: Steinmetzer, M.. 2013. Archaeological monitoring and recording at Castle Drogo, Devon. Oakford Archaeology. OA1106. Digital.
SDV61431Monograph: Thomas, G. S.. 1979. The Gardens of the National Trust. The Gardens of the National Trust. Unknown. 111-112.

Associated Monuments

MDV8470Parent of: Castle Drogo, Drewsteignton (Building)
MDV33419Parent of: Stables and coach house at Castle Drogo (Building)
MDV33413Related to: Castle Cottage, Drewsteignton (Building)
MDV80477Related to: Castle Drogo Leat, Moretonhampstead (Monument)
MDV19560Related to: Hydro-Electric Engine House, Castle Drogo (Building)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV7090 - Archaeological monitoring and recording at Castle Drogo (Ref: OA1106)
  • EDV6046 - Archaeological Survey of National Trust Teign Valley Properties (Ref: 6764)

Date Last Edited:Jun 11 2021 11:38AM