Daytripper: Castle Drogo, Devon
Get switched on to castle life
Sunday 23 March 2003
What is it?
What is it?
Castle Drogo is the antidote to dusty old stately homes. An imposing fortification perched on top of Dartmoor, it looks like a medieval castle but was, in fact, built in the early 1900s and contains every mod con of its day.
Owned by the National Trust, the castle was created by Julius Drewe, a retail king who brought cheap tea to the British masses. Wishing to give the impression that he came from a noble family, he asked Sir Edwin Lutyens to design a suitable country pile.
The castle is built from granite and looks austere, but inside it is dressed to impress, with grand reception rooms furnished with exotic objets d'art – some authentic, some not. Upstairs, visitors can roam around the Drewes' apartments, while downstairs the servants' quarters offer a different view of Edwardian life.
The modern inventions that Drewe couldn't resist snapping up are very interesting: see the table football game in the library and the primitive Teasmade in the master's bedroom.
Where is it?
Castle Drogo, Drewsteignton, near Exeter EX6 6PB (01647 433306; www.nationaltrust.org.uk), off the A30, between Exeter and Okehampton.
Something for children?
The castle has a children's guide and prize puzzles. There's lots of room to run around in the grounds and a small playground. Tiny ones will love the horse-drawn cart.
Something for grown ups?
Top gadgetry. The fun begins at the portcullis, which is operated by the flick of a switch. Other highlights include the prototype power shower and a flushing loo. Outside, there are great walks on the estate, with views over the Teign Gorge.
There's a licensed restaurant in the house, a café by the car park, or use the picnic area.
Can we buy a souvenir?
The shop contains a variety of goods, not all to do with the castle, and a small plant centre for gardeners.
How do we get there?
By road: The castle is five miles south of the A30 Exeter-Okehampton road via Crockernwell or A382 Moretonhampstead-Whiddon Down.
By train: Yeoford station is eight miles away.
By bus: No 173 Exeter-Newton Abbot, Nos 174 and 180 from Okehampton railway station.
Will there be queues?
Opening times: castle 29 Mar-2 Nov, 11am-5.30pm daily except Tues. Garden all year, 10.30am-5.30pm.
Admission: adult £5.90, child £2.90, family ticket (two adults, three children) £14.70. Garden and grounds only: adult £3, child £1.50.
Disabled access: Reasonable access. A buggy service, wheelchairs and braille and audio guides are available.
Kate Simon travelled to Castle Drogo courtesy of National Car Rental (0870 400 4560; www.nationalcar.co.uk), which offers weekend car hire from £48.90. She stayed in Exeter at the Hotel Barcelona (01392 281000; www.hotelbarcelona-uk.com), which offers weekend breaks from £209 per couple.
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