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