Sunday, 4 September 2016

Devon Days Out: Powderham Castle

 Last week, we visited the very beautiful Powderham Castle - a stunning castle which was originally built in the 14th century, and sits on the outskirts of Exeter.

The castle has belonged to the Courtenay family for centuries, and is still resided in by Charles Peregrine Courtenay and his family.

The castle has extensive grounds, and this is what we made the most use of when visiting as it was a beautiful sunny day and we wanted to spend time enjoying the picturesque gardens.

We headed first to the walled gardens, which were home to the most wonderful childrens play area including the impressive Courtenay Fort as well as plenty of little ride on vehicles, and even some animals to visit - there was a donkey, chickens, some guinea pigs and many more little creatures but our favourite was the tortoise who was roaming freely - my eldest son was delighted to get to touch his "feet" and stroke his shell, and I have to was quite an experience for me too!

After an hour or so exploring the walled garden, we headed to the castle itself to have a look around.

Guided tours are offered at regular intervals, but we chose to visit after 3.30 pm when the castle was open to the public to explore the ground level in their own time as I thought this would be better given the young age of our children.

Unfortunately it wasn't accessible by pushchair due to steps and narrow doorways (our pushchair is a double) which we hadn't realised, and unfortunately this meant that one of us had to wait outside with the two babies.

Jon chose to stay outside, and I took Tyne to look around the castle.

Although it was a By-Yourself tour, there was still a tour guide in each area of the castle to discuss the rooms with you which was nice - they were very good with my young son and the lady in the library in particular told him a good little ghost story which kept him entertained as he looked out for the "grey lady" during the rest of the visit!

The castle was just stunningly beautiful inside, like nothing I've ever seen before.

I found it fascinating to know that the family live within the castle as the tours are going on, and keep themselves to the private family quarters - it didn't feel that big strangely enough so to know that there were lots of inner layers to it was quite interesting and odd to think about.

We were shown some of the many secret doors, and even allowed through some of them to have a look around.

Unfortunately the family have requested that no photography be permitted inside the castle, so I can't show you what it looks like but you must take my word for it - it is breath taking! 

I found it fascinating to see the families own framed photographs dotted around, showing them celebrating Halloween with their children and so on - such every day family activities, in such a breath taking castle steeped in such history - a peculiar mix but so very interesting.

I also found it strangely fascinating to recognise the wife of Charles Courtenay who lives in the castle today - anybody my age who remembers the 90s TV show "My So Called Life" will remember the character Rayanne? - well it is she who is married to Charles and lives in the castle now with their children! 

In addition to the gardens and castle tours, Powderham also has a deer park, a little land train tour which takes you to see them, a BBQ stall in a picnic area, and tea rooms too.

I highly recommend a visit!

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