National Trust Restoration, Castle Drogo

This weekend we went along to see some of the conservation work being carried out at Castle Drogo, Chagford in Devon, England.  The castle is owned by the National Trust and the restoration work is a huge undertaking, likely to cost around £12 million. The scaffolding completely encloses the castle which is dwarfed inside by a huge marquee suspended on the scaffolding structure – currently, the largest scaffolding structure in Europe.

Work progressing at the moment includes removal of the windows, replacing the pointing and replacement of the roofing material to waterproof the property. Despite it’s looks, Castle Drogo is in fact a 20th Century building having been completed in 1930. The architect Edwin Lutyens was keen to build a Norman style castle without rainwater gutters, down pipes or window ledges and with a flat roof which, over the last 80 years or so, has proved difficult to keep waterproof. That has been, and still is, especially true in rural Devon, hence the need to enclose the restoration work with a tent.

Whilst the work is most impressive, what sets this project out from the norm is the lengths at which the National Trust have gone to make it accessible to the general public. Donning high viz jackets and hard hats to scale the ladder tower is the highlight of the visit and is sure to inspire many in the field of restoration and conservation work. Castle Drogo is a must visit at any time but be sure to visit it while the restoration work is ongoing – it’s a revelation!