Progress at Castle Drogo

They're having quite a bit of work done at Castle Drogo near Exeter. And they have been for quite a while.  We visited again to see what was going on when we were in Devon last weekend, and before that our last visit was in October 2016. For us the progress was noticeable, and as I haven't shared the photos from when we were there before I thought it'd be interesting to look at both sets of photos in parallel. 

But first a bit about the work that's underway, and now hoped to finish by the end of this year. A year later than expected as the contractor ran into difficulties and folded part-way through the project, not what anyone needs.  Talking to the room guides on this visit about the cost of the project we were surprised to learn it's only costing thirteen million.  I know that thirteen million is a lot, and not an amount many of us will ever have, let alone spend, but they're doing a lot with it.

The castle has had problems for a long time, ever since it was completed they've had "major leakage problems" - it's only about a hundred years old, but a hundred years of leaks isn't a good thing, and so a six year project to make the castle watertight is underway.  But it's not just the roof that leaks, the windows do too. 

All of the windows are being replaced, there's 913 windows containing over 13,000 individual panes of glass - and of course, not all the windows are easily accessible.  The castle also needs repointing, as at some point it has been repointed using cement mortar which becomes brittle and cracks over time, which as you've guessed allows water into the core of the wall.  So the blocks of granite are being repointed with lime mortar to allow it to breathe.  This has resulted in granite blocks being carefully dismantled, numbered and stored safely before being replaced. It's almost as if the castle is being rebuilt block by granite block.

A STORE OF CASTLE WALLS

A STORE OF CASTLE WALLS

So that's the scene setting done, what does it look like?  Well the most obvious change to us was in the Drawing room, mainly because in 2018 it's starting to look like a Drawing room again.

2018: THE DRAWING ROOM

2018: THE DRAWING ROOM

When we visited in 2016, it was being used as a store room - albeit a rather fabulous one. 

2016: THE DRAWING ROOM AS A STORE ROOM

2016: THE DRAWING ROOM AS A STORE ROOM

CHESTS AND CASES IN THE DRAWING ROOM STORE ROOM AT CASTLE DROGO

It was fascinating to see the items displayed in this way, and while they were still curated - see the trunks above and the picture below - it really brought home the quantities of items the National Trust has to deal with, let alone during a project like this.

MORE STORAGE ITEMS IN THE DRAWING ROOM AT CASTLE DROGO

One thing - or rather two - that were constant were the glorious chandeliers, which we learnt on our visit in 2018 the Drewes brought back from their honeymoon in Venice. I'm not sure we managed to bring back anything quite so grand from our honeymoon, the sentiment is there though. But can you imagine bringing these in through customs, perhaps opting to go through the "Nothing to declare other than two rather ornate chandeliers" channel!  

DESPITE CONVERTING IT TO A STORE ROOM THE CHANDELIERS STAYED

I'm already looking forward to seeing it when it's done and I'm hoping that it will be almost complete when we head back to Devon much later in the year.

What also struck me looking through photos from two visits is that I have captured very similar photos on each visit - in fact, there's a couple that are exactly the same, but still I don't think they're good enough to share here, so I'll have to try harder on my next visit.

The rest of the photos in this post are from the most recent visit, and all from the same room.  The wooden sinks, with sparkling taps, three this time - I also have a photo of the sink with just two taps, it seems you can never have too many taps, or pictures of taps.

TAPS AT CASTLE DROGO DEVON

I did managed to snap a new picture on this visit, and that's of this glassware. They're in a glass fronted cabinet so there are reflections, but just look at the detail, not just the etching but also on the base of the stem.

EXQUISITE GLASSWARE AT CASTLE DROGO

While I'd like to think I'd be living upstairs, in reality it's the downstairs area that fascinates me more. Maybe it's the "technology" or maybe it's because it bears no, or little, resemblance to our own domestic homes, and I'm not sure I'd like to be on the end of the calls from this either, but there you go.

DOWNSTAIRS AT CASTLE DROGO

So back to that thirteen million, yes it's a lot but there's a lot of work underway and I think it's worth saving Castle Drogo, don't you?

Formal dining at Mottisfont

While looking for a photo to accompany last Friday's link-up post I rediscovered my photos from the National Trust's Mottisfont in Hampshire, and there's many which I've not shared here yet, so I plan to put that right and today I'm starting with some formal dining.

For me, seeing these properties set out as they would have been in their heyday is what brings the place to life on a visit, an it's something the NT does well. Clearly as I wander around the place I'm imagining the house is mine, I have staff and will be entertaining again that evening, and this scenario has yet to become tiresome. 

I'd be happy to have dinner served on this jade patterned dinner service.

Crockery on the dining table at Mottisfont

And the dining room is pretty special too, isn't it? 

Stepping back and admiring the trompe l'oeil

The panelling isn't quite what it appears though. It's believable and very effective, but is a trompe l'oeil. But it was the chairs and their upholstery that caught my eye  the simple, yet elegant fabric, no doubt silk, provides enough bling, sparkle and classic detail to be quietly, but confidently, understated. 

The detail on the chair

And when you see the floor, it's clear why that simplicity is needed. Now for the life of me I can't remember if the flooring is carpet, as we'd expect it to be, or another trick for our eyes. Logic tells me it should be carpet, but then again it looks too flat, and perfect, so perhaps it isn't.  

And how about that for a carpet

 

It's a looker though isn't it? If you've been to Mottisfont and can put me out of my misery, then please post a comment and let me know: carpet, or clever trickery?

Two loos at Max Gate

It's been a little while since I've shared a loo, or two here, so that's just what I've got planned for today. And just like buses, there's two - both from the same National Trust property, Max Gate.  I shared pictures from the garden there last month, but our visit - well mine anyway - actually started in the loo, and it wasn't quite what I was expecting.

To set the scene, Max Gate is, or was, Thomas Hardy's house and had had tenants until relatively recently. So when I found myself in the loo, I was surprised to find myself in a normal bathroom, and one with a bath.  

Not many come with a bath, do they?

It really was quite odd. Mainly because the bath felt out of place, and I couldn't help wonder if any visitors to the property took advantage of the bath, even now remembering I'm having a little giggle.  

I think the picture below - and my face - sum up my bemusement.  

A flowery public convenience

The bathroom was functional and clean, and well, just a little domestic, and if you're wondering full of flowery charm, and thankfully no one in the bath!  In fact I was so set back my the bathroom that I insisted MOH visited before we headed out into the garden.  Humouring me he did, and he left just as bemused - see, my work here (or rather, there) was done...

But it wasn't the only loo in the house, and I did promise you two.

Upstairs it was an entirely different story, and a loo, you're more accustomed to seeing here.  I mean, just look at that wallpaper. 

Upstairs the loo was completely different

I'd happily have the wallpaper on the top half of the wall today, I'm less keen on the border and striped lower half, but it just screams tradition doesn't it? 

And traditional also means a high level cistern.  

Much more traditional and with fantastic wallpaper

And a chance to admire that gorgeous wallpaper again. 

So there you have it, two more loos, and another first for the Loo Series as I'm pretty sure this must be the first to include a bath. I'm curious now though, have you experienced anything similar?

PoCoLo