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Never a dull moment at Powderham Castle: discover all the many attractions in its magnificent grounds

Posted by Luci Ackers on 9 June 2015
Related property: Lower Knapp Farm
Powderham Castle in Devon's south coast

Powderham Castle


Powderham Castle, close to Devon's south coast, has seen over six hundred years of history from when Sir Philip Courtenay, son to the Earl of Devon, began rebuilding what was once a manor house left to him by his mother in the 1300s. The castle has remained in the same family ever since.

In the 17th century the castle suffered losses and terrible damage during the English Civil War. For three decades during the Georgian Period, Sir William Courtenay and his descendants restored the castle. Adjustments included sectioning out the Great Hall and adding lovely rococo plasterwork to the staircase walls. The old chapel was converted into a library and a new chapel was constructed elsewhere. Visitors to Powderham today can enjoy guided tours of the castle to admire these changes. The 18th century music room is worth seeing, which was designed by famous architect James Wyatt.

Image: Music Room - Manfred Heyde via https://commons.wikimedia.org

Charles Fowler was recruited later in the Victorian era by the 10th Earl, who wished Powderham to more resemble an 'ancient castle'; the courtyard and medieval style gatehouse were added as a result and the castle has not changed a huge amount since the 19th century. The guided castle tours are informative and interesting, and included in the ticket price. They usually last around an hour, be prepared for secret doors, ghost stories and a haunted landing!

What's here?

The beautiful, extensive grounds are available for tours as well. Make sure to take in the scenic views across the Exe estuary from the 18th century Belvedere, or spend the afternoon wandering at your own leisure. There's the woodland garden that was planted out in the 18th century, and a walled garden with Victorian greenhouses.

For younger ones the play area, pets corner and mini fort are always a hit, and these are all located in the walled garden too. The pets corner gives younger guests (and older guests too!) the opportunity to handle animals and get up close and personal to Powderham's friendly pets. A donkey, pigs, goats and guinea pigs are just a few of the inhabitants you can meet. 

Three nature trails are available for children: Green, Orange and Yellow which wind their way through different parts of the estate and act as a great way for youngsters to explore. The Exeter Woodcarvers who often provide demonstrations onsite have added amazing 'tree faces' along the Yellow Trail – so keep your eyes peeled for them! Alternatively stop by the regenerated working forge on your way from the Walled Garden to the Woodland Garden and you will get to see some award winning smithery by Andrew Hall. 

Also on offer daily during the school holidays is the deer park safari. And for 2015 the safari is now available throughout all seasons on a Wednesday, provided the ground conditions are acceptable. The safari is a 35 minute tractor trailer ride into Powderham's stunning deer park, which is home to around 600 fallow deer. You can hear all about their habitat and this is a great opportunity to admire Powderham's beautiful surroundings from the banks of the Exe estuary while an interesting commentary tells you of the castle's history.

There's never a shortage of things going on; during July and August there are excellent daily displays from the stunning birds of the Devon Bird of Prey Centre including owls, hawks and falcons and audience members even have the opportunity to fly some of the birds themselves. On top of this Powderham hosts theme weeks during Devon school holidays which are aimed at 5 to 11 year olds and are a huge success.

For everything that's going on check out the Calendar of Events. There are so many different areas and attractions that it is important to check opening times of each to avoid disappointment. You can check the Powderham website to be sure. 

There is a café and a gift shop on site of course, with local produce and souvenirs, so end your day with a browse and then head into the adjoining Courtenay Gallery, a small museum of family treasures. Or visit Powderham Country Store, a short distance down the road for even more choice of food and shops.

Because there is just so much to see and do, it's quite possible you won't fit it all into one day. So, to really round off the trip you are offered a free return within a week if you pop your details down for the team there! Perfect for if you're staying nearby. Find out more about season tickets at the bottom of the Prices Page.

The traditional and beautifully converted properties of Lower Knapp Farm are just 40 minutes away and act as an ideal base for getting out and about in this fantastic area. Find out how to stay by clicking below.

Luci Ackers

Luci Ackers

Luci loves getting out and about for a good cycle ride or easy-going walks in the countryside, and thoroughly enjoyed the time she previously spent working for the National Trust. Her love of writing started from a young age and on rainy days nothing beats curling up in a secret corner with a good book.

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