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Powis Castle

Visited August 2014

Location Welshpool, Powys
Entrance Fee Yes
Railway Station Nearby Yes- Welshpool
Parking Yes
Facilities Café, Toilets, Gift shop


Built of red stone, Powis castle was once a welsh stronghold, built by Gruffudd ap Gwenwynwyn, Lord of Powis. He rather unusually built the original timber motte & bailey castle as a stronghold against the Princes of Gwynedd who he was in conflict with, rather than the Anglo- Norman invaders. So much for solidarity against a common enemy! In fact the Lord Gwenwynwyn was rewarded by the English and was granted the title of Baron de la Pole, from which the name Welshpool derives.






Rebuilt in stone after the Princes of Gwynedd burned it down, the castle changed hands many times over the years until it came into the ownership of Sir John Charlton, who repaired the castle and built the two large towers still in existence today. Later the castle was sold to the Herbert family, who still own it today. The Herberts undertook many improvements to the castle, which saw it being transformed from a defensive structure to a grand family home which reflected the wealth of the owners. This also included work on the garden, which because of the castles high position on the motte, had to be terraced around it.





The gardens have also changed a great deal since their original inception. At one time they were inspired by the fashion for Dutch water gardens, however, these were later removed and all that is left from the days of the cascading water channels is the statue called 'Fame' which is today situated outside the castle entrance on the great lawn. The gardens were once again remodelled in the mid 20th century, and it is the results of this that we see at Powis today.


It would be fair to say that the gardens today are the main feature of the property, outdoing the castle in terms of impressiveness. They are richly planted, with many interesting features, not least the large topiary yews, cut into random blobby forms.  Below the well stocked terraces are large lawned areas, one of them on a slope so entirely suitable for rolling down!


There is a large woodland area suitable for walking, with some features to note along the way such as a large stone foot! Tucked away in the corner of the gardens is a very small play area, and I mean small. Considering the size of the grounds, it is a shame that the play area seems to have been shoe-horned into a small corner of begrudgingly-given land. It consists of some small willow structures, a few wooden stepping stones, and a mud pie making station. It was voted as 'very disappointing' by our youngest sis, who is a veteran of castle play areas.






Inside the castle can be viewed either as part of a guided tour in the morning, or from 12 noon onwards visitors are free to wander around at their leisure. However, the day we went it was so busy there were bottlenecks at certain points, usually where the rooms were roped off at the entrance so only allowing for a quick peep around the door. The rooms are sumptuously furnished, in the style expected of a wealthy castle owning family.


It only took a short while to see the main interior of the castle, but there is another exhibition in the ballroom annexe, which is about Clive of India. Robert Clive was a wealthy employee of the East India Company, and his marriage in 1784 to Henrietta Herbert of Powis Castle bought a much needed injection of funds into the estate. Robert's Indian artefacts are housed here, and make an interesting display, especially the decorated state tent of the Indian rulers!


When you have finally exhausted all that is on offer here, the café is highly recommended by C4K, we had a very nice cooked breakfast, sat out in the courtyard amongst  the free-roaming castle peacocks!





More info:  National Trust Powis Castle

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