Powderham castle, on the river Exe, is the historic home of the earl of Devon and is lived in today by the Courtenay family.
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Construction was begun in 1390 by Sir Philip Courtenay and extended over 30 years. Much Victorian restoration and recreation was done due to civil war damage. This was completed by Charles Fowler, the architect of Covent Garden.
The interior is open by tour and includes halls and state rooms. Interior rooms, in the Georgian style, display moulded plasterwork ceilings, walls with plasterwork animals and motifs. A staircase hall, once part of the medieval great hall, rises to the top of the building. The music room dates from 1794. In a room next to the great hall is a 1533 overmantle. 14th century arches lead to the buttery and kitchen. Family portraits and tapestries are hung in the home.
A chapel is sited at the rear of the house and retains its 15th century timber roof. The belvedere tower offers views over the Exe estuary.
A woodland garden blooms in the spring with daffodils, primroses, and violets. A secret garden for children has animals that include pygmy goats, guinea pigs, and rabbits. A fallow deer park is located in the estateís 4000 acres and a tractor takes visitors on rides to view them.
A country food store, self-serve restaurant, and gift shops are located near the entrance. The house is a wedding and corporate event venue.
Kenton, Devon EX6 8JQ
(Access from A379, 6miles south-west of Exeter, 4miles south of M5/J30)
Tel. 0 1626 890 243
Open: castle by guided tour only; April-end Oct, daily except Sat, 11am-4.30pm; mid July-end Aug, open till 5.30pm and on Sat also; guided tours begin 11.15 am and run approximately every 30-45 minutes
Web: Powderham Castle
Historic Houses Association member
Insider tip: Be sure to take the house tour. Itís lots of fun.
Photos by Barbara Ballard