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Picton Castle

Visited May 2015

Location Pembrokeshire
Entrance Fee Yes
Railway Station Nearby No 
Parking Yes 
Facilities Cafe, Gift Shop, Toilets







The story of Picton Castle starts with Sir John Wogan, of nearby Wiston Castle, who in the 1300's rose to great prominence and felt he needed a more impressive family pile. The resulting castle, fortified to protect him from attacks by the Welsh, is still in existence today, together with the Georgian extension built onto the ancient castle in more peaceful times. Picton could therefore be described as both a castle and a stately home, and it was  inhabited by descendants of the same family until 1987 when placed into the hands of a charitable trust by the Philipps family, whose ancestor Thomas Philipps had married into the Wogan family in 1485.





The castle today is the centre piece of the whole Picton Estate, set in 40 acres of grounds including a children's play area and formal gardens. The castle interior can be visited during a guided tour, which lasts about 40 minutes, our children were ok with this at the ages they are now but when they were younger they might have struggled to keep their attention. The guide did try to involve the children in the tour, at one point asking them to sit at the dining table as the guests would have once sat.


The tour ends in the undercroft , which is part of the original Wogan-built castle. The medieval main entrance to the castle is presently buried beneath what are now cellars in the house- in the 1820's a large circular driveway for carriages was formed by raising the ground level and creating a new main entrance at this higher level. Stone steps were created to allow access from the ground level to the new raised area. A new porch was created in Norman style. The castle tours start at the 'new' porch and then you exit the castle at the old ground level.





The grounds here are spectacular. Of special interest to younger visitors is the jungle area playground. Set amongst the exotic tropical plants such as banana and large bamboo clumps, there is a wooden castle, climbing wall and wooden toadstools. However, it was the recently constructed boardwalk around the wooded area which really made the visit for us- kids and adults alike enjoyed 'walking the planks' around the gardens, around trees and over streams, dodging the large leaves of the Gunnera plant and trying not to fall off the wooden stepping stones- it was great fun! The final part of the walk takes you through the newly planted willow tunnels straight to the play area. The day we were there it was empty for pretty much the whole morning, so the children had the place to themselves (it was drizzling though, it is probably more busy in the sunny weather!) There is also a maze to explore, which can also be accessed from the boardwalk.


The walled garden, which is a short walk from the play area, is a beautiful place to spend some time. The borders are packed with flowers, and there is an indoor fernery (handy for when the light drizzle turned to a full on rain) There is a formal square pond in the middle of the garden, in which you may see tadpoles- dependent of the time of year!  If you still have energy left there are several woodland walks, with an abundance of bluebells in the spring.


If you need to make a pit stop then the restaurant 'Maria @ Picton' is highly recommended. It is on the pricey side but the food is of high quality, and Maria herself catered for a royal visit to Picton in 2014.  Across the courtyard from Maria's is the castle shop, and the Lumsden Collection of Antique Lawnmowers. I must admit I found the lawnmowers fascinating but maybe not everyone will.... (but I did remove my Mum's old manual lawnmower from the skip after seeing one like it in this museum)


There is certainly a lot to keep the visitor amused at Picton, it is definitely worth the entrance fee as you could spend a whole day here if you wanted. After we left we headed out to Wiston Castle for a quick visit, as it is very close by. 







More info:  Picton Castle

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