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Powderham Castle // Exeter

Powderham Castle
Powderham Castle from the south west
Powderham Castle from rose garden
Powderham Castle from East garden

One of England's best known stately homes - the historic home of the Earl of Devon. Open to the public and is available for private and corporate functions, and licensed for Civil Wedding Ceremonies.

This impressive mediaeval fortified manor house has been the seat of the Earls of Devon since the 16th century. Set in a deer park along the banks of the river Exe there is plenty to explore inside and out.

The current house at Powderham was built in 1390 for Sir Philip Courtenay. At this time there were two branches of the Courtenay family, the other branch were the Earls of Devon and resided at Tiverton Castle. It was only when the blood line of the Tiverton branch died out in the mid 1500s that the heirs of Sir Philip took the title.

Powderham only acquired the title of castle in the 17th century and this may coincide with its role in the English Civil War. Despite that there is evidence that the building was indeed fortified with elements such as the tower, a defensive curtain wall and gatehouse. Most of the castle-like features that exist today are actually 19th century affectations, added when there was a vogue for faux-castles and follies.

As mentioned, the house saw action in the English Civil War in which it was a garrison for 300 royalist soldiers. After holding out for several months in 1645 Powderham finally fell in the winter of 1646 in an assault that caused significant damage to the building. It was not until around half a century later that Sir William Courtenay finally effected repairs on the house.

Today, visitors are able to enjoy a guided tour of the house in which they can marvel at the Georgian grand staircase and eighteenth century music room. An insight into life below stairs in the Earl's household is available with the original Victorian Kitchen allowing visitors to see how a 19th century country kitchen would have been run.

Outside are more attractions and activities for all ages; a secret garden, tractor rides, country sports, an animal park and much more. Events are a big part of the Powderham calendar with regulars including drama, music, classic cars and a teddy bears picnic.

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