Julius Drewe

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Julius C.H. Drewe
Born Julius Charles Hendicott Drew
(1856-04-04)4 April 1856
Pulloxhill near Ampthill, Bedfordshire
Died 21 November 1931(1931-11-21) (aged 75)
Drewsteignton, Devon
Residence Castle Drogo
Nationality British/Anglo-French
Education Bedford School
Occupation Tea Merchant/Trans-Global Businessman/Entrepreneur
Known for Home and Colonial Stores
Spouse(s) Frances Abelle Richardson
Children Adrian, Basil, Cedric, Mary and Frances
Parent(s) George Drew, Mary Peek
Arms of Drewe of Castle Drogo: Ermine, a lion passant per pale gules and or in chief three ears of wheat stalked and bladed of the last.[1] This is a differenced version of the arms of Drewe of The Grange, Broadhembury (Ermine, a lion passant gules), from which family Julius Drewe claimed descent

Julius Charles Hendicott Drewe (surname originally spelt Drew) (4 April 1856 – 20 November 1931) was an English businessman, retailer and entrepreneur, who founded Home and Colonial Stores and ordered the building of Castle Drogo in Devon.


Julius Charles Hendicott Drew (he changed the spelling to Drewe in 1913) was born at the vicarage in Pulloxhill near Ampthill in Bedfordshire, the son of Rev. George Smith Drew (1819-1880), Rector of Avington,[2] Winchester, by his wife Mary Peek, a French artist, the eldest child of William Peek of Loddiswell, Devon and first cousin of Sir Henry William Peek, 1st Baronet (1825–1898) of Rousdon, Devon.[3] Julius was the third youngest of eight children. His siblings Mary, Edith, Ada, Reginald, William, Anna and Evelyn all moved, either to different parts of the United Kingdom or to the Colonies, including British North America. He was the nephew of Richard Peek, a Sheriff of the City of London.

Early origins[edit]

Julius' father, Rev. George Smith Drew, was born 22 October 1818 in Kensington, then a village on the outskirts of London, to an affluent family. He was a clergyman and serial publisher. Julius' mother was Mary Peek, born 12 July 1823 within the 16th arrondissement of Paris in Passy, an artist, whose family owned a women's clothing business in Le Marais, Paris.[citation needed] Julius' grandfather, George H. Drew, was born in Belgravia, in Westminster in 1790 but at the age of four moved with his parents to their country house in the South Hams, Devonshire. George moved back to London aged twenty-one and became a tea merchant during the birth of the Industrial Revolution.[citation needed] The Drew family had close ties with the French aristocracy in the eighteenth century by the linage of King Louis XIII of France through his great-granddaughter.[citation needed] As a result of this, Thomas Drew (Julius' great-grandfather) was born 1745 in Gironde, France. Thomas later migrated back to England with his father at a young age, at some time before the outbreak of the French Revolution of 1789,[citation needed] and became an architect based in Sloane Street, Westminster.[4]


As a child he attended the renowned and prestigious Bedford School between 1862 and 1874, a traditional private boarding school founded by King Edward VI. After leaving school at eighteen years of age, Julius started his working life as a tea buyer in China and opened his first tea shop four years later in Liverpool in 1878, aged only twenty-one. In 1883 he moved to London to expand his enterprises. The business developed rapidly under the name of Home and Colonial Stores. After only six years, in 1889, he and his partner, John Musker, were able to retire from active participation in the firm as extremely rich men. Drew was only thirty-two years old. In 1919 they sold their shares in the business for £3.5 million (estimated at £193 million today), then a huge sum.[5]


With his brother William he had always taken a keen interest in the history of the Drew family. A genealogist convinced him that his family was descended from the 16th century gentry family of Drewe of Sharpham, in the parish of Ashprington, near Totnes, Devon, which from the early 17th century to 1903 resided at The Grange in the parish of Broadhembury near Honiton in Devon.[6] Furthermore, the genealogist also produced an "authenticated descent"[7] claiming to prove a link between the Drewe family of The Grange and the 12th century Anglo-Norman Dru (Latinized to Drogo), who in the reign of King Henry II (1154-1189)[8] was lord of the manor of Teignton, later Drew's Teignton. However, by 1242 the manor of Teignton had passed from the Dru/Drogo family and was held by the Daubernon (or Dabernon) family.[9] The manufactured pedigree suggested furthermore that Julius was also descended from the royal House of York through Edmund of Langley, 1st Duke of York's marriage to Isabella of Castile, Duchess of York. Having discovering all this, in 1901 he bought the estate of Broadhembury House in the parish of Broadhembury and installed in it his elder brother William Drewe (d.1938), a wealthy barrister of the Inner Temple, who died there on 25 March 1938.

Castle Drogo[edit]

Main article: Castle Drogo
Castle Drogo, Devon

Julius's first cousin was Richard Peek, the rector of Drewsteignton (named after Drogo de Teigne, alleged forefather of the Drewes). Julius stayed on several occasions with his cousin and it must have been here that he conceived the idea of building a castle on the home ground of his ancestor. He found an ideal site, and in 1910 he bought about 450 acres (1.8 km2) south and west of the village; by the time of his death he had bought up an estate of 1,500 acres. He then went to Edwin Lutyens, a prominent architect of the time, and asked him to build his castle. According to his son Basil, he did so on the advice of William Hudson, proprietor of the Country Life Magazine, who was both a patron and a champion of Lutyens. Drewe was now 54 years old, but he still had time, energy and money to create his new family seat. On 4 April 1911, Drewe's 55th birthday, the first foundation stone was laid.[10]

The castle took many years to complete, with the First World War and the economic downturn causing many delays. Castle Drogo was finally completed in 1930, a year before Julius died. Castle Drogo was the last castle to be built in England, and probably the last private house in the country to be built entirely of granite. It is now a Grade I listed building.[11]

Marriage & progeny[edit]

On 26 September 1890 Julius married Frances Richardson (d.1954), younger daughter of Thomas Richardson of Buxton, Derbyshire,[12] by whom he had five children, three sons and two daughters, as follows:

Death and succession[edit]

Julius Drewe died on 20 November 1931 and was buried at Drewsteignton. His widow Frances and his eldest surviving son Basil Drewe continued to live in the castle. Frances Drewe died in 1954 and Basil was then joined at Drogo by his son Anthony Drewe and his wife. In 1974, Anthony Drewe and his son, Dr Christopher Drewe, gave Castle Drogo and 600 acres (2.4 km2) of the surrounding estate to the National Trust. It was the first property built in the 20th-century acquired by the charity.[17]


  1. ^ Burke's Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Landed Gentry, 15th Edition, ed. Pirie-Gordon, H., London, 1937, p.643
  2. ^ Burke's, 1937, p.643
  3. ^ Burke's, 1937, p.643
  4. ^ Burke's, 1937, p.643
  5. ^ Wadhurst History Society
  6. ^ Burke's Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Landed Gentry, 15th Edition, ed. Pirie-Gordon, H., London, 1937, p.643, pedigree of Drewe of Castle Drogo
  7. ^ Burke's, 1937, p.643
  8. ^ Pole, Sir William (d.1635), Collections Towards a Description of the County of Devon, Sir John-William de la Pole (ed.), London, 1791, p.244
  9. ^ Pole, p.244
  10. ^ The Heritage Trail | Castle Drogo
  11. ^ National Trust | Castle Drogo | What to see & do
  12. ^ Burke's, 1937, p.643
  13. ^ Burke's, 1937, p.643
  14. ^ Burke's, 1937, p.643
  15. ^ Burke's, 1937, p.643
  16. ^ http://www.gazettes-online.co.uk/issues/39863/supplements/2946/page.pdf
  17. ^ BBC Inside Out | Castle Drogo