Castle Drogo's £11m restoration adds to visitor experience
One of the largest renovation projects ever undertaken by the National Trust has begun in Devon.
The charity says that if extensive restoration isn't carried out on the fabric of Castle Drogo, the last large medieval-style fortress built in Britain will soon start falling apart.
The total cost of the project is £11 million and the work will take five years.
"Castle Drogo has suffered major structural problems ever since completion which has resulted in serious leaks and water penetration throughout the building," said a trust spokesman. "If extensive conservation work was not carried out, the castle would eventually have become inaccessible and this national treasure would have been lost forever."
Business Cards From Only £10.95 Delivered www.myprint-247.co.ukView details
Contact: 01858 468192
Valid until: Sunday, June 30 2013
The bad news is that one of the region's favourite historic buildings will be crawling with workers and covered in scaffolding for years – the good news is that it will remain open to the public.
Visitors will have the opportunity to learn all about the castle's history thanks to a series of theatrical installations which the trust has commissioned from Codsteaks, a company of designers best known for their film-work with Aardman Animations.
The trust spokesman told the Western Morning News: "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 Julius Drewe made enough money to build his very own family castle and why it was built on Dartmoor. They will also 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 had been hoped."
Until now the trust has presented the castle just as it was when the Drewe family lived there, but during the building work spaces unaffected by the renovation will be used to store furniture and fittings. These have now been grouped so that they can be displayed in new ways which help tell the story of the family, their lives and times.
Even better – for lovers of sweeping panoramas, at least – there will be the chance at the top of the castle to enjoy stunning views of the Teign gorge.
And in a few months, visitors will be offered the rare chance of scaling the exterior walls on scaffolding so that they can see for themselves the re-pointing and re-roofing work that is essential to the building's survival.
A large team of volunteers is being trained to help present the castle in a completely new way with rooms never before seen open to the public. Trust project manager Tim Cambourne commented: "Visitors will get opportunity to share with us the trials and tribulations over the next five years of one of the largest projects the trust has ever been involved in.
"Saving Castle Drogo will be no small task but thanks must be extended to all the members of the public who help us from giving donations to joining our vital team of volunteers. Without volunteers, opening Castle Drogo during this time would not be possible."
He also thanked the Heritage Lottery Fund who awarded £2.5 million towards the renovation and the European Union for also providing funding.