Christmas is coming and it’s time to shop local.

10 reasons to shop close to home this Christmas


1)   For every £1 you spend locally at least 50p to 70p goes back into the local community.

2)   Buying local ensures that you are buying safe and traceable products produced to a very high standard.

3)   Buying local produce not only reduces your carbon footprint. It supports diverse local agriculture which means your food will be fresher.

4)   Small local business’s are more likely to employ staff from within the local area.

5)   £1 spent locally is worth at least 10 times more to the local community than if it were to be spent elsewhere.

6)   Local business’s can offer unique and innovative products/services based on local demand. This can create character and individuality of that area.

7)   When you calculate the cost of travel, fuel, parking, delivery and time. Shopping local is better value for money and time.

8)   Local business owners are more likely to live within the area and are also stakeholders in the community and create further opportunities within the area.

9)   In 2012 there were more than 4 million independent business across 700 towns.

10)                  It only takes 10% of your spending to go to local independent business’s to create an impact in your area.



Why not join us for our Christmas Shopping weekend at The Country store from 7th to 8th December.


Here are just some of the highlights.


Christmas Pudding trail to keep the children busy

Tastings from some of the most sensational producers and suppliers in the county.

Unusual, quirky and not on the high street, fashions, gifts and toys

Super seasonal handmade wreaths and a great selection of trees to take home.






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Victorian schools programme is a winner!

The Victorian Learning Programme we are running for local schools here on the Estate is very exciting. If your children are studying the Victorian’s then this tour, specifically designed for whole classes of children, will really bring the era to life.


Downton Abbey has become a global sensation and has been gripping viewers worldwide since hitting our screens in 2010. The current revival on television seems to have stimulated the public’s interest in history with a particular focus on the Victorian era. With such a phenomenon, we have been running the Victorian Learning Programme at Powderham Castle since 2007. The programme is now in its sixth year and was assisted by a contribution from the Heritage Lottery Fund that enabled us to restore the Servants Hall, Victorian Kitchen and Vestibule to their late Victorian Glory.


Children from schools across Devon and Cornwall have been enjoying a taste of Victorian life at Powderham Castle, the 600 year old family home of the Earl & Countess of Devon located just outside Exeter.  To date almost 5000 children from 157 schools have transformed themselves into Victorian children and stepped through the doors of the Castle to spend a day on work experience as a member of the household staff – Victorian style!. They come dressed up as Victorian children and have a go at different household tasks with the Housekeeper, such as carpet beating, boot polishing and dusting. They also spend time with the cook, making griddle cakes and finding out where the ingredients come from. All the time they will be learning about the progress we have made today and how tough life was in the Victorian times for most people.


The Victorian Learning Programme at Powderham Castle is a fantastic learning resource for schools wishing to supplement the children’s learning outside of the classroom.  The children really appreciate the opportunity to experience working in a Victorian household and the feedback we get from the school visits is hugely positive.


If you would like to find out more about bringing your school to be a Victorian for the day, please contact us and we can help you create a fabulous learning experience.


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Who do you think you are?


Who Do You Think You Are?

We all love the BBCTV programme, it’s probably to do with being surrounded by such fascinating history 24/7


We were delighted when we received a letter from a couple from Bristol.


Mr & Mrs Dickinson from Bristol, were researching their family history after watching the TV programme ‘Who do you think you are?’ and discovered that Mr Dickinson’s mother was a  Miss Stumbles and her family came from Devon and in particularly the area around Totnes.

On further research they discovered that there was a famous clock maker working in Totnes in the early 1700s called William Stumbles.  They researched Mr Stumbles and the work he did and discovered that he had made a long-case clock for Viscount Courtenay of Powderham Castle in the 1740s and that the clock was still there!.


They contacted the castle archives and it was arranged that they could view the clock (even though the castle was closed for the winter).

It was arranged that they would be at the castle to hear the fantastic 12 noon chimes, when the clock strikes the hour and then plays several tunes for approximately 4 minutes.

It was also arranged that the castle handyman- Maurice would unlock the clock so that Mr & Mrs Dickenson could see their ancestor’s hand written instructions on how to wind up the clock.


A copy of Mr William Stumbles Will, complete with his signature, was also available for them.


Not only did Mr & Mrs Dickinson know about their ancestor but had seen a piece of his wonderful work, which was still keeping good time  260 years later.


The Courtenay Society was formed in 1995 in response to numerous suggestions made to the late Earl of Devon, head of the Courtenay Family, and to his son, the present Earl, then Lord Courtenay, that an organisation should be established which would link the descendants of ATHON de Courtenay (c. AD 985 – AD 1065) throughout the world. – See more at:



If you have a connection to the castle please contact them.

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I shrieked so much my sides ached!!!

They let me out of the office for a day with my children who are on half term. We braved the forecast gales and headed for the castle with a promise of scary goings on at the castle during shriek week.

My boys are 11 and 13, those inbetweenies when everything is lame! and they are bored if it doesn’t go ping and involve a Miley Cirus soundtrack.

As we headed  down the drive the boys looked up from their screens to come practically nose to antler with a buck Roe Deer who was so close. No doubt due to the rutting season and the flooding from the previous evening. (we couldn’t get into the car park due to the lake it had now become)

Ours was the first tour of the day and it started with a BANG!! I wont give away too much of the plot as it might spoil it but it gripped and engaged everyone from the start. If you haven’t been to one of the Powderham and Pocket watch theatre companies performances you only have a few days left as the doors close on the 2013

At the end of this Devon rainbow is the Powderham Deer park

At the end of this Devon rainbow is the Powderham Deer park


The coach park is not a name for the new Powderham outside swimming pool!!

The coach park is not a name for the new Powderham outside swimming pool!!


2 of the strs of Shriek week. Boris and Dr Igor Mortis (say it quickly and it's funny)

2 of the stars of Shriek week. Boris and Dr Igor Mortis (say it quickly and it’s funny)


He's not the usual Powderham Gardener

He’s not the usual Powderham Gardener

I can genuinely say i was sad when it finished and would have happily gone round again, even if just  to see my boys having fun without the screens for 30 minutes.

Happy Halloween everyone!!

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October is a great time to………..

If you are visiting the castle this month then you are in for some treats.


Flora and Fauna


Autumn is a spectacular time to see the amazing wildlife at the castle.


Some of the colour of the summer flowers has gone but what has taken their place is the amazing array of colours from the trees. Burning gold and vibrant red.  On some of the trees the tiny spiders have made their webs and in the mornings the dew glistens on them making them look as if they are covered in silver candy floss. Bring your camera for some superb photo opportunities.


The castle is home to a rare herd of Fallow Deer. October is the rutting season when the males compete for the affection of the females. There is lots of clashing of antlers and they become very vocal. We are holding a few special events during October so please see website for prices, timings and dates.




There are some places at  the castle that have been known to send shivers down the spines of the super sensitive and the odd tale has been told about other  past residents who may still let their presence be known.  If you like all things spooky and want to get into the half term spirit why not join us for Shriek week.


Food glorious food


Devon is full of the most amazing producers of meat, cheese and bread, not to mention chocolate, coffee and lots of other tasty goodies. The food festival will be a treat to the senses. There are lots of stalls to tempt you, after all we are fast approaching the ‘eating season’



Music to our ears.


We are fortunate to have the superb music room at the castle, on 25th of the month there is a concert featuring our rare 1769 Brice Seede organ and a host of clarinets playing and evening of music by Brahms and Mozart.


See the website for all details, some may require you to book.

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Powderham welcomes local art groups

Anne Pommeroy Des MAxwell Clark Felicity Hughes Felicity Hughes Jane Branch barbar ChavasseTeignmouth Art Society at Powderham 4th June 2013

Back in the heady days of June, Teignmouth Art group set up their easels all over the castle and grounds and spent a super day painting, drawing and creating. Below is a selection of their work.

If you would like to spend the day painting in the wonderful creative environment of the castle and grounds please contact the estate office in the first instance. Individuals and groups welcome.

Any time of the year lends itself to a creative opportunity. In Spring the castle is just coming to life, During the summer the energy of the events and laughter of the children fill every nook and cranny with sunshine. During the autumn the mesmorising colours of the trees as the leaves change from green to gold and of course early winter gives an unmissable opportunity to get so close to the Deer as the rutting season gets under way.

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Iron Man!!!

Apologies to anyone who visited the castle especially to see our Blacksmith Andrew Hall, he has been very busy attending many agricultural shows and has been awarded the prestigious title of  Champion Live Blacksmith. Here is his own blog post announcing his title in his own words.

I was confirmed as Champion Live Blacksmith of the year 2013 at the Dorset County Show on Sunday 8thSeptember for the 5th time in my career. This title is given by the Worshipful Company of Blacksmiths to the blacksmith who earns the most points in “live competitions” at the county shows. Blacksmiths are given a limited time with a brief description of what should be made.

Wrought Iron Bottle Opener

This year the competition was fierce and it was not until the last show that the title was confirmed when I won the competition to create an ornate bottle opener of  my own design in 1 hour.


Winning the competition at Dorset means a lot to me as there were so many excellent blacksmiths competing there.  Gaining the title also means a lot as throughout all the competitions it was a close race between the top 3 contenders. Both the other contenders are excellent smiths and so I had my work cut out to beat them.”


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The Spice Men are coming, The Spice Men are coming

The Incredible Spice Men are coming to Powderham incredible spice men1.3mb

“The Incredible Spice Men” Award-winning chefs and old friends Tony Singh and Cyrus Todiwala are coming to Powderham Castle to share their entertaining take on British food.  Their zesty new series is currently showing on BBC2 on Monday nights to popular acclaim.

For too long, our spices have sat unused and dusty on cupboard shelves, when just a mere sprinkling of cumin, a dash of turmeric or a handful of star anise has the power to turn everyday food into an explosion of tastes and smells. They believe traditional British fare is among the finest in the world, while our home-grown produce is the very best money can buy. Now Tony and Cyrus have taken to the road, exploring the British Isles, meeting those behind the best British produce and adding their own twist to our classic dishes.

Old friends Todiwala and Singh love Britain and its food. Between them they have cooked the Queen’s Jubilee dinner, been awarded an OBE and won Chef of the Year. Their knowledge of spices is extraordinary and comes not just from training in world-class restaurants, but handed down through generations of their Indian families.

Now they are giving us all the benefit of their expertise at Powderham food festival come and enjoy the show.


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Long hot summer!!

We have had an amazing summer. The weather has been wonderful, we have had record number of visitors through the doors and record number of smiles leaving the castle drive.

We would love to know your happiest castle memory. Maybe you have a photo to share or a funny story to tell . Did you find out something amazing on the castle tour. Maybe you got ‘that close’ to Olly at the concert of the summer, or got up close and personal with a bird of prey or a snake.

Did the Pirates buckle your swash, were you zapped by an Alien or amazed by Wonka or Alice.

We hope we have given you some happy memories to help youfill your photo album, we’d love to see them either on here, Facebook or Twitter.



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Getting social with the Powderham’s

twitter image


We at Powderham love to see you, welcome you through the gates, wether it be a private event such as a wedding or a corporate function. We love to see you all through the season all through the week and with the rise in Social media we also like to see you virtually.

trip advisor image

Please connect with us in as many ways as possible. We are on Facebook , Twitter and Foursquare. Lots of people have shared their opinions about us on Trip advisor and there are lots of video’s on You Tube of previous events.


Share photo’s with us of your  visit, give us feedback, give us ideas. In return you will be first the know of any special events, you can join us welcoming new animals and share with us the comings and goings at the castle.

you tube image

Here are the links you need.


Share with you soon.



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Summer is hiding but not at the castle

The Chelsea flower show reminds us all that Summer is well and truly here. All those amazing flowers and displays bursting with colour and scents that evoke warm sun and blue skies.

Ok, so the sun has not been a particularly consistent visitor this year and you may not be able to get a ticket to the Chelsea Flower show  but if you need a fix of beautiful gardens in a magnificent and unique setting you can come and visit the castle.

Our gardeners work all year round to prepare the flowers, the grass and the gardens to interest and inspire our visitors.

There are our troop of unsung hero’s that move silently and inconspicuously; dead heading, pruning, edging and yes the odd bit off weeding to ensure you see it in its glory every day.

The gardens are really starting to wake up now and the air is filled with the sweet smells of Buddlea and Wisteria, no doubt tempting the bees out of their hives!!

Buddleia Butterfly Bush May 2013Wisteria coming out May 2013


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Cathedral Musicians to play celebratory concert at the Castle

powderhamorgan2009021webOn Friday 17 May a recital will take place in the Music Room at Powderham Castle to celebrate the 1769 Brice Seede organ having been successfully and fully restored to its original condition.


Exeter Cathedral musicians Andrew Millington (Director of Music), David Davies (Assistant Director of Music) and Paul Morgan (Organist Emeritus) will give a recital to celebrate the completion of restoration work on the organ.


The concert takes place at 7.30pm in the fabulous James Wyatt Music Room at the Castle, with proceeds going towards Exeter Cathedral’s own Organ Appeal.


The organ was purchased in 1769 by the Second Viscount, initially for the Chapel of Powderham Castle. Then, in 1794, his son the Third Viscount had James Wyatt design the Music Room, and shortly after moved the organ into this magnificent new venue. The organ fell into disrepair – it was not playable for at least the last 70 years, perhaps more – until the present 18th Earl of Devon had it brought back into playing order in 2008.


The “Powderham Castle 1769 Organ Restoration Project” began in 2010 under the inspired guidance of Professor George Pratt, who along with his colleague, Adrian Huxham of the Huxham Charitable Trust, have been instrumental in raising money to fully restore the Brice Seede organ, widely considered to be of ‘utmost historical importance’, ever since.


The British Institute of Organ Studies (BIOS) deemed the organ to be of national significance and granted it GRADE II* listing. (Grade II* [is granted] for organs which are good representatives of the work of their builder, in substantially original condition.)  This is the highest category which can be given to an organ which has undergone any alterations during its lifetime – the exquisite Brice Seede Organ had the addition of a second manual and pedals in the 1860s, but the original parts of the instrument were undisturbed.


The initial estimate for restoration and conservation of the organ was £35,000.  By the end of 2010, through appeals and benefit concerts – involving the organ itself a good third of the amount had been raised.  But the collapse of markets and the increase in VAT meant that the estimated cost started to increase faster than money could be raised.


Adrian Huxham in the meantime had approached hundreds of possible sponsors until finally in February 2011 a sponsor agreed to make up the necessary funding to ensure the full restoration for the Brice Seede organ.


Goetz and Gwyn were chosen to do this highly specialist job and so in January 2013 the work began. It took a fortnight for the organ to be dismantled; when it involves almost 1000 pipes this is no mean feat. Inspecting, labeling, cleaning and repairing took place both on site and back at the specialist workshop. After another 4 weeks in April/May to re-build and fine tune the organ, it is now in full working order and ready to delight an expectant audience on Friday.


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Get Your Diaries out

Well we hope you enjoyed Chocolate Factory fortnight.

We know you love Jonty and the team as much as we do and hope we offer you more dimension to your day out with these amazing immersive theatre experiences.

So you can plan your summer of fun here is a list of the events when Jonty and the Pocketwatch Theatre will be in residence. Why not get a gang together, dress up, pic nic and enjoy.

Sunday 26th May to Sunday 2nd June

Kings and Queens Week

It’s half term and a year since the Diamond Jubilee celebrations made Britain a bunting filled red, white and blue fun raising time. If you miss it as much as we do why not visit us for Kings and Queens week Entitled “Millenium Monarchs” it relays the exciting facts about all of England’s monarch’s. A 1000 year history reduced to 45 minutes of mayhem.

Sunday 21st– Friday 26th July

Pirates and Mermaids Week


As if the mayhem that Captain Jack and the crew caused wasn’t enough! They are now joined by a mystical creature. As with most mermaids she needs to be back in the water before she turns wrinkly so best come and see her quick!!

Sunday 28th July-Friday 2nd August

Robin Hood Week

The men are merry there is lots of swashbuckling and that Sherriff is still as grumpy and as big a spoil sport as ever. Come and help Robin foil his plans. All together now, BOOOOOOO!!!

Sunday 4th – Friday 9th August

Knights and Dragons week

Ok are you ready for some Double Entendres? Here goes, Sir Drew P Drawers (Geddit?) is in residence and he is on the look out for magical fairy folk to help tell his wild stories. Come and join him in his most noble quest.

Sunday 11th – Friday 16th August

Science fiction week.

We’ve only just got rid of Dragon’s and what have they been replaced with? Aliens!! Come and see how Dr What and Agent Why discover what’s going on and help them make contact.

Sunday 18th – Friday 23rd August.

Pirate Week

It’s the big one! The one which visitors come back for year after year. Come and see Captain Jack as he docks at Powderham from Tortuga  for more pirate antics. All together now, oooh aaargh!!

Sunday 25th – Friday 30th August

Wonderland Week

It’s nearly a new year at school, but just before you go back to reality why not visit us for a bit of Wonderland. Don’t be late though as you will miss all the wonderful characters at the tea party.

Phew, there’s a lot going on and on the Saturdays in between we will have Dartmoor Reptiles in our midst. Come and have a ‘close encounter’ with a snake, lizard or even a tarantulaaaaaa!

Don’t forget you get a FREE Return Visit or even better get a Season Ticket and enjoy it all!

See you soon!!!

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Spring has sprung at Powderham……….. Honestly!!!

Ok People. We have some ground breaking weather news!!


Never  mind the Met office or the BBC. The Powderham Swallows have NEVER been wrong.


It’s official spring  has arrived! How do we know this?



The Swallows have been spotted at Powderham and this is how we have gauged the arrival of Spring for centuries.


Swallows are monogamous migratory birds and it is highly probable that the same group of families of birds have nested and bred at Powderham since the early 1600’s.


We are obviously delighted to see the swallows back safe and sound from their winter travels and look forward to welcoming the new additions to the flock in a few weeks time.


Other signs of spring at the castle have also been reported.


Sand martins (close cousins of the swallow) have been spotted for over a month and a big slow worm was seen crossing the car park yesterday, luckily before opening time.


We live in hope but you will always be guaranteed a warm welcome at the castle what ever the day, time or weather.


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Powderham Castle gig gets bigger

Diane Vickers is announced as a guest star for the Olly Murs concert at Powderham Castle

Diane Vickers is announced as a guest star for the Olly Murs concert at Powderham Castle

Olly Murs is coming to the castle on 7th July and he brings with him a host of other UK talent.


Lawson is already confirmed at Devon’s BIG outside concert this year and we are delighted to announce, after a strict press embargo, that Diana Vickers, Charlie Brown and Joyride have now been confirmed as guest acts.


Diana Vickers was a semi-finalist in the fifth series of the X Factor, mentored by Cherly Cole, along with Alexandra Burke. Securing a record deal with RCA in 2009, Vickers’ first single and album were delayed after landing the Award-winning lead in the West End stage revival of The Rise and Fall of Little Voice.

Her debut single Once hit the #1 spot in the UK Singles Chart, selling over 200,000 copies, and her debut album, Songs from the Tainted Cherry Tree, topped the UK Album Chart upon release the following month. While Vickers’ anticipated second album has been completed, the release is on hold until after filming her independent movie debut in The Perfect Wave, alongside Clint Eastwood’s son

Her very distinct sound, along with her own clothing collections (Dee V for, numerous plaudits for her acting and stage work and her music writing, Vickers is set for the uber heights of stardom.

Charlie Brown is a rising talent whose debut single On My Way entered the UK Singles Chart at #7 late last month. Having signed to AATW in 2012, Charlie has worked with everyone from Wiley, Jay Sean and The Script, through to high-profile hit-makers such as Fraser T. Smith (Adele), RedOne (Lady Gaga, Nicki Minaj) and FutureCut (Wretch32, Lily Allen), while collaborators on his debut album Dreamstate include Quiz & Larossi (Conor Maynard, Cover Drive), MoJam (Emeli Sandé, Professor Green), Focus (Dappy, Misha B), and Wayne Rodrigues (Nelly Furtado, Kelly Clarkson)

With their soaring hooks and glam looks, Joywride are looking to redecorate the charts with glamorous pop panache. Not ones for understatement, Dance Rock Revivalists Joywride are proving to be one of the most dynamic live acts to emerge from London’s underground in years. With a mix of classic-styled pop and a well-groomed fashionista charm, Joywride are poised to take centre stage at the forefront of pop music

Concert spokesman Dion Clements said “Having already announced Lawson will perform as very special guests at Olly’s huge Exeter Powderham Castle concert, adding Diana, Charlie and Joywride to the line-up offers a more diverse sound for fans of a range of music genres and provides the opportunity to see more artists perform live before they go on to headline their own tours”


We at Powderham cannot wait for a fantastic summer of Music and Mayhem. Bring it on!!!

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Diary of a Castle Tour Guide – here comes the 2013 Season!

The Gardens are springing into life and will be splendid for our opening.

The Gardens are springing into life and will be splendid for our opening.

Perhaps it’s just that I am getting old (surely not! Ed.) but doesn’t time seem to fly past? Seems only yesterday that we were doing Spooky Tours and here we are, at the time of writing, only 2 weeks away from opening the gates on the 2013 Season.

From the feedback we received, our Spooky Tours were every bit as popular as in previous years and we certainly had great fun running them. One tip for anyone wanting to join the fun at the end of this season – pretty much every Spooky Tour was full so it really does pay to book in advance – particularly if you want to ensure a place on a specific timed tour and remember, it doesn’t cost any extra to book!

So back to the present and the snowdrops are superb along the Castle driveway, although the daffodils are a little late. I was chatting with Dave the head gardener earlier this week and he said that the daffs were suffering from the ground being waterlogged, with all the rain we have had over the last few months, which is bad for the bulbs. Let’s pray for a drier year than last – don’t want the Welcome Hut floating away again!

Great news in that my good mate Jonty Depp and the delectable Claire, with the Pocketwatch Theatre are back again this season to run our entertainment sessions. We will be kicking off this season with a fortnight of Chocolate & Candy (don’t forget my free samples, Jonts!) from Friday 29th March.

What’s new for this year, Dave, I hear you cry? Well a couple of significant items, actually. Firstly, following the enthusiastic response to our opening on selected Saturdays last year (basically on Bank Holiday weekends) we are extending this to include all the Saturdays during the peak summer period as well as Easter. Check web site for full details (got to keep the editor happy!).

Secondly, following queries from a number of visitors, we are going to experiment with un-guided access to the Castle for the last couple of hours each day, during the peak, 6 week summer season – this will be perfect for families with really young children. Personally, I can’t understand why anyone would want to view the Castle without the assistance of one of our professional and knowledgeable Tour Guides (or even me!) I guess if you have enjoyed a tour earlier in the day, a second look around might not be such a bad thing, particularly if that means the Tour Guides get a break for a nice cup of tea! Oh, sorry, I’ve just been told that the guides will still be on duty in various rooms, available to provide any further information as might be required by visitors – bah humbug!

And the free return offer will run again this year – please remember to get your entrance ticket stamped before you leave (those nice people in the Gift Shop will be pleased to do this for you) to take advantage of the return visit.

For any of you who have missed out on previous Tour Guide Diary entries (we know who you are!), let me just take the opportunity to remind you of one of my key tips for this, early part of the season. Do take the time to visit the beautiful plants and trees in the Woodland Garden and (for the energetic) take in the fabulous views from the foot of the Belvedere Tower. These are particularly worth visiting in the first half of the year, not least because they close from 1st. August onwards.

I did get a few people who had read my wittering’s on the blog and occasional Tweets & Facebook postings stopping for a chat last year, which was great. Please do look out for the only guide with a Devon Flag lapel badge (the name badge is also a pretty good clue) and say hello!

Bring it on!

Dave of Kenton.

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PETER SANDERCOCK, OF POWDERHAM CASTLE has been presented with a prestigious Highly Commended in the national Hudson’s Heritage Awards 2012 category ‘above and beyond the call of duty’.


Peter has worked at Powderham Castle for 14 years and is a familiar face to the many visitors who enjoy the 35 minute drive on his popular tractor/trailor ride to see the deer, even if that involves extending the time or adapting the route to track them down.  Peter is also well known to members of the Crash Box and Classic Car Club helping prepare the field for their annual event.

Peter is representative of what Powderham is all about and how we would like to be perceived by our visitors.  He is flexible, reliable, totally committed and always smiling.  As an example of his approach to customer service, he adapted his trailor for wheelchair users, ensuring it would still fit through the castle arch with only 5 inches to spare either side!  Peter is the archetypal ‘leave it with me’ person who always comes up with the goods.  They say no-one is indispensable but Peter comes very close!

udson’s Media announced the winners of the Hudson’s Heritage Awards 2012, the second staging of the annual awards, during a celebratory lunch ceremony in the stunning gold-leafed splendour of the Livery Hall at Goldsmiths’ Hall, London on 29th November.


The awards, judged by an expert panel, are designed to celebrate business and creative achievements in the UK heritage industry and help to further promote the UK tourism industry. Chaired by Norman Hudson guests at the awards were greeted by celebrity hosts Lucinda Lambton and Loyd Grossman, this year saw awards to a total of 20 heritage locations, with the award of 11 winners and 9 Highly Commended across the 11 categories and also a Special Judges’ Award.


Described by one past winner as ‘the Oscars of the UK Heritage world’, the awards highlight excellence in the heritage leisure industry across a range of categories – from ‘Picnic Spot’ to ‘Wedding Venue’, and ‘Hidden Gem’ to ‘Accommodation’. In the spirit of recognising quality, achievement and expertise right across the UK heritage leisure market, new categories introduced this year included ‘Best New Discovery’ and ‘Beyond the Call of Duty’, which rewards individual contributions.

We are in good company, another winner on the night who won an exceptional award, the Special Judges’ Award was made in recognition of the consistent achievement, commercial innovation and good practice achieved over 60 years by Beaulieu. The Hon Mary Montagu-Scott attended the ceremony and received the Special Judges’ Award on behalf of Beaulieu.

SO a big thank you to Peter who through his quiet commitment to customer service has firmly put us on the map.



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Halloween Poem

We thought we would share this poem with you that I wrote in the 70’s, with a lot of help from my Mum, it sums up Halloween before all  the trick or treat activity came to the UK.


Whatever you are doing tonight have fun!!


The witches ride out on the 31st

They crash through the sky with an almighty burst

And heaven help anyone who gets in their way

For since the beginning of time this has been the witches day


A witch may come in many disguises

On that day you can never be sure

That the cat in your garden

Or the snail on your doorstep

Wasn’t what it seemed afterall


So on that day you best beware

Only a fool will go out alone

Best be safe and stay tucked up in bed

And keep all thoughts of witches out of your head

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Autumn is Awesome

Autumn is Awesome

You may have visited the castle this summer and enjoyed the ideal British country day out, it is an idyllic day out when the sun shines, however if we were just a fair weather attraction; if this summer is anything to go by; we would be closed more than we would be open.

But… Autumn is a really magical time at the castle. The colours of the leaves on the trees are quite spectacular and there is always a lot going on at the castle. Here is a roundup of the Autumn events going on for you to get involved with.


The Powderham Food Festival

The first event of this nature to be held at the castle this is going to be an excellent foodie extravaganza. Over 80 exhibitors will be spread around the majestic ground floor of the castle offering sumptuous goods and telling their inspiring stories of artisan food making and tickling your taste buds with original tastes and flavours. There is a long history of gastronomy at the castle and the castle’s cook and archivist have been working hard to find out more about the history of the kitchen, the gardens and some of the dishes which were frequently prepared for past Earls. There are some superb you tube clips here.


With live music, arts & crafts sessions led by the Phoenix Art Centre, children’s entertainment and interactive food sessions, all in all it will be a great family day out! Open 10am to 5pm. Adults £4. Children under 16 are free.


The Deer rut season

There is a previous blog about what happens and why from last year so please feel free to browse the archives.  This year we have extended the amount of days the special Deer park safari’s take place due to their popularity last year. Tickets are still available for Tuesday 9th, Thursday 11th, Tuesday 16th and a couple for Thursday 18th. These special Safari tours include an introduction from our Estate Director followed by an extended tour of the deer park. You will be taken at a much slower pace than the normal deer park safari to ensure you get really close to the deer to get some fantastic photographs.  Please hurry as they are selling fast! If you are visiting the castle any other day, then do make sure you add the Deer park tour on your ‘to do list’ it’s only an extra £2.50 and is especially magical at this time of the year as you are able to get so close.

Deer Rut Safari & Cream tea only £10 or you can upgrade to include a Castle tour for £15. Book your tickets on 01626 890243


Spooky tours & More

October is the month where our minds go to ghosts and ghouls. There are some scary tales about the past residents and some say they still linger about certain parts of the castle. For those who want a more spooktastic tour these are guaranteed to give you goose bumps as you are led by our housekeeper or butler through the Castle rooms. Afterwards you will meet our Mad Scientist and the Wicked Witch for more spine-tingling fun!

If you don’t wish to be spooked take a regular entertaining tour around the Castle and hear fascinating stories spanning 600 years!


Either way you will still be able to win a prize on our Pumpkin Trail, visit our friendly animals and let your imagination run wild at Courtenay Fort.  All included in your admission price.


Spooky Tours take place at 12pm, 1.30pm and 3pm each day and must be booked in advance on 01626 890243 as places are limited. Regular tours take place at 11.15am, 12.45pm, 2.15pm or 3.45pm.



Posted in Deer Park, Pumpkin Trail, Rutting. October, Safari, Spooky Tour, The bad and the spooky, The Deer Park, The Walled Garden | Leave a comment

Can you name the baby barn owl

Can you help us?


Can you help us name him

We have a dilemma, this gorgeous baby barn owl is currently nameless. Other birds of prey in the Devon Birds of prey ‘Raptor’ are Cupid, Mozart, Gallahad and Cupid. So we need  some grand name suggestions, maybe with an Olympian theme so we can remember when he was born and named.


The winner will be the name considered by the team at Devon Birds of Prey to be most original and apt on 31st August, they will receive a years adoption of the owl who they have named.


So get your thinking caps on and join in at the beginning of this magnificent creature’s life.


Sunday 22 July – Friday 31 August 2012 on the days we are open (including Sat 25 August) at 3.30pm – Included in Admission.

Majestic Birds of Prey will delight visitors of all ages with a daily display by expert falconer Karen Andriunas from the ‘Devon Bird of Prey Centre’.

Come and see the graceful barn owl ‘Willow’ and other members of their team; from the youngest ‘Chakra’ the Lanner Falcon to ‘Mozart’ their stunning Siberian/Turkmenian Eagle Owl. Karen will be flying the usual favourites, barn owls, Harris hawks, eagle owls and falcons, but for the first time this year she will be introducing ‘Galahad’, her magnificent Golden Steppe
eagle to the flying team.

This year there will be more audience participation allowing a few lucky individuals to get involved in the actual flying display at 3.30 on the North Lawn. There will also be a static display by the lake between 1.30 and 2.30 offering all visitors the chance to get up close and personal to these amazing birds, learn more about their behaviour, diet and habitat and even handle one.



Posted in Name the Baby Barn Owl, wildlife | Tagged | 1 Comment

It’s not all bish bash bosh down at the forge

I am delighted to have taken over Powderham Forge and have worked hard to restore it to its former glory as a fully productive working forge.

It is in a beautiful situation and I am privileged to be working there. It feels really good to be continuing a piece of history just as I did with Branscombe forge when I first started there back in 1986.

Powderham forge is situated right on the river and suffers from frequent flooding. This has been a challenge to overcome, but we have installed new flooring with channels to direct the water to the lowest point where is it pumped out. With the recent torrential rain and local flooding, this has tested the system to the limit and it has worked extremely well. We have not had to close the forge for a single day.

I have been a blacksmith for over 30 years and I love this old traditional craft. Modern technology can make things a lot cheaper but it cannot match the quality or the individuality of truly hand crafted ironwork.

I tell people that I “bash metal” for a living, but it is much more than that. There is a huge creative element in particular in designing new products or special commissions as well as the grunt work of actually bashing the metal.

We perform daily demonstrations at 2:30pm (weather permitting) which seems to be appreciated by the vistors who then also have the opportunity of visiting our showroom and seeing all the variety of products we make at the forge.

At the moment we have a showroom showing a good selection of products, but it is still a work in progress and we hope, by the end of the season, to have got it to a satisfactory standard to be able to show all our work at its best.

Andy hard at work " Bashing Metal at Powderham"

Andy hard at work ” Bashing Metal at Powderham”

Posted in Art at Powderham, The Forge | Leave a comment

Free the Powderham Photo’s

Free the Powderham Photo’s


We know you love it at Powderham. How do we know this? Well we see the smiles, we hear the laughter, we see the same happy faces time and time again…… but……


We are on a mission at Powderham to free the photo’s in your camera or smart phone.


We know you visit, we know you take photo’s as we see the poses and the smiles and hear the ‘just say cheeses’ but we don’t see enough of your photo’s.


So to entice you to share those snaps and get the smiles out into the open we would like to suggest that you share your Powderham memories either on this blog or on Facebook. If we see  some we like we may even ask if we can use them in our posters next year, any snaps we do choose we will give a years membership to the castle next year so you can come back again and again.


So add your memory to this years Powderham story. Look forward to seeing your pictures.

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Diary of a Castle Tour Guide . . . 2012 Season takes off with a bang!

Just realised that it is only 5 weeks until we hit high season and I haven’t put together my notes from the first part of the 2012 season yet, so here goes . . .

27/03 Training day – playing with fire extinguishers and hearing about the role played by the Polish Air Force during the attacks on Exeter in the Second World War. There is also a significant connection with Powderham, which, I am sure, your tour guide will be only too delighted to tell you about, next time you visit the Castle!

01/04 Chocolate Factory fortnight running from the very first day of the season. I manage to get scheduled to work the first 6 days in a row – you would think I would have learned my lesson last year! 53 visitors on only my second tour of the year and particularly busy over Easter weekend!  I am thinking of marketing the new Powderham Tour Guide diet –I dropped 5 pounds in first week although sadly it was back on by end of Easter!

Four new guides have joined us this year and it is scary just how quick they have been to pick up the tour essentials and gone from shadowing tours to running their own. Thinks – will need to ensure the Dave of Kenton tours are even better to keep up with these youngsters!

Toby Buckland is now working with us at the Castle and we keep seeing him whizzing in and out. He is running his online Nursery from theWalledGardenand has taken over the Plant Centre, located up at the Country Store. Some confusion over what is happening at which location, with some guests, but I’m sure we’ll soon get it bottomed out.

Towards the end of the first themed session I get accused of being Willy Wonka in disguise. I’m hoping this is to do with the vocal impersonation that I have been trying (not a patch on Jonty, of course, in case he is reading this!) rather than any actual resemblance to the character.

15/04 Get to the end of a tour with Fleur, one of our newbies, who is shadowing me to see how the experts (!) do it, when we bump into Lady Devon, who is helping set up the State Dining Room for a private function that evening. She proceeds to suggest that we must have been touring hand in hand which, in itself would not be a bad rumour to promulgate, if it were not for the fact that her boyfriend is well in excess of six foot and ex-military!

25/04 I got 24 hours’ notice that we are expecting a primary school group, who have been offered a “special” tour of the Castle and do I mind dressing up in the Butler’s outfit that I last used during Spooky Tours (without the make-up of course!). Not one to disappoint the little kiddies, a new character – Kenton theButler– rapidly emerges and is let loose . . .

30/05 Following vast quantities of rain over the preceding days, I arrive on this Monday morning to find water flooding over the driveway up to the Castle and lapping around the Welcome Hut (later to have a foot of water in it!). Decision rapidly taken to close the Castle and it stayed that way for a couple of days. Some cracking photos of this below and more on the Powderham Castle Facebook page.

15/05 Kenton the Butler part 2 – one of the girls on the Tour Guide team had been due to take a group round dressed as a Victorian Maid, but was taken ill at short notice, so guess who gets half an hour to resurrect our new favourite old retainer? In retrospect, probably better than me showing off my legs in the maids outfit.

02/06 The Queen’s Jubilee and we are celebrating with Kings & Queens week, featuring a mixed live and puppet show from Jonty and team and the requirement for the rest of us to sport silly hats.

13/06 The rains are back and for a couple of days we revert to plan B, using the courtyard as a temporary car park and guess who gets to be first car park attendant?

The weather has been a significant factor over the first couple of months of this season. As I scrawl these notes we have wall-to-wall blue skies, but despite the Met Office weather warning for more heavy rain in a couple of days’ time, enthusiasm is still running high at the Castle and visitors are soldiering on. Takes more than a few drops of water to dampen the good old British spirit!

A wet day in Devon!!

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Cover Drive join JLS Sound City Summer Tour

Further to the recent announcements that JLS will perform several massive, all-new, outdoor concert shows across the UKthis summer on their JLS Sound City Summer Tour, taking in our very own Powderham Castle. In association with Heart FM, with fellow X Factor stars Alexandra Burke and Little Mix touring as their very special guests, it is confirmed that recent UK Singles Chart stars Cover Drive will also join the epic journey to perform at all of the large-scale events in Ipswich, Brighton, Exeter and Lincoln

Cover Drive, having already landed two top ten singles in the UK Singles Charts – including the #1 single Twilight earlier this year – are the four-piece band from Barbados, comprising lead singer Amanda Reifer, drummer ‘T-Ray’ Armstrong, guitarist Barry ‘Bar-Man’ Hill and bassist Jamar Harding, and first rose to prominence opening Rihanna’s Loud Tour

With their third single Sparks – out last month – having reached #4 in the UK Singles Chart, their inclusion in the JLS Sound City Summer Tour line-up is another coup for music fans across the country

Commenting on the latest development, tour spokesman Dion Clements said “With Cover Drive joining the line-up for the scream-inducing, trail-blazing shows, this tour offers unbeatable value for music fans, and places this tour firmly at the top of the ‘must-do’ list for the summer holidays. It also represents the last chance to see JLS perform live on tour for more than year”

The full line-up to date now stands at JLS with very special guest Alexandra Burke, 2011 X Factor winners Little Mix, Cover Drive and introducing rising stars A*M*E, Tich and NVS

The Powderham Castle concert will take place  on Saturday, 1 September. To book tickets or, for more information and to book tickets follow the link.

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Powderham Castle’s Credit Crunch Offers

We all like to save a bit of money where we can, we appreciate that when you visit us you want value for money and a good day out for everyone concerned. We feel our prices are very competitive, but we are very conscious of giving you more for your money and discounts where possible.


Before you visit us have a look at this list to see if you fall into any of these categories where you will qualify for a discount.


Service Personnel: If you work within one of the armed services you will receive our group discount rate (about £3 off your ticket) on presentation of your ID card.


English Heritage: Although we are not a member of English Heritage we are affiliated and will therefore give 20% off your entry ticket if you show your membership card.


Groups: if you are planning on bringing a group of 15 or more there are several rates, please see our website for more details. It is always best to book a group visit in advance and then we can arrange a private tour time for you – included in the price, of course.


Children under 4: Can enter for free (up to a maximum of 2 per paying adult) and they can still take part in our themed activities.


Free attractions: Once you have paid your admission all the activities are free apart from the Deer Park Safari (an optional extra which is well worth the £2.50 supplement) It’s advisable to buy your ticket on arrival to ensure you don’t miss out during busy times of year. Your admission includes an entertaining guided tour, these run at set intervals throughout the day and are adapted to suit the audience so no-one misses out. If you have chosen to visit us during one of our popular themed weeks, these are free too. The nature trail is free and can earn you a fantastic medal – something to treasure for ever. Talking of which there is always a treasure trail to follow and a prize to be won and free to do! The play area and pets corner are a must for children and of course there is plenty of outdoor space to run around in and stunning views to soak up.


There are also other events such asWoodlandwalks with celebrity gardener Toby Buckland and various concerts and outdoor theatre held throughout the year, see website for more details.


Season ticket: If you plan to visit us a couple of times this season you will be saving money if you buy a season ticket. With so much going on for all ages it really wont be difficult to do, you also receive 10% discount for purchases in the gift shop and tea rooms and can get your friends in at a discounted rate. (the family ticket is particularly good  value for money!!)  A season ticket for Powderham also gives you discounts for other attractions: 50% off entry to  Pennywell Farm andKents cavern and free parking atHaldonForest.


Fathers Day: Every year we offer a treat for hard working Dads on their special day as long as they are accompanied by a paying child they can enter for free. (We would do the same for Mothers if we were open on their special day!)


Everyone who buys a full priced Day Ticket: Don’t worry if you didn’t qualify for any of the above as we are so convinced that you will want to come back after your first visit we are offering everyone who buys a full priced Day Ticket the chance to come back again for Free. Make sure you get your ticket validated before you leave and you can return at any time later on this season.


So, as you can see, we are doing our bit to help your budget stretch further and we look forward to seeing you soon.

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What’s new in 2012


We are well in to our 2012 season and it looks like it’s going to be a fabulous one.


Despite the weather we have already welcomed nearly 6,000 visitors through our gates since our opening on 1st April


We like to think we have something for everyone from the New Woodland walks with Toby Buckland, car events such as the Silly Mini Sunday and our music extravaganza with JLS, Alexandra Burke, Little Mix and AME.


All ages are catered for, from Teddy bear weekends to Captain Jack pirate weeks.


Miss the tour and you’ll miss the real story behind the fascinating past residents, some say that some of them still leave a presence and our spooky tours over Halloween really bring the more gruesome and spooky to life.


What better way to enjoy the majesty of the royal jubilee than in our fabulous castle during the kings and queens week.


What ever the weather whatever the week there is always something to see, enjoy and do. If you can’t decide when to visit then come to them all. A season ticket is the best and most cost effective way to enjoy everything we have on offer, all season long.


If this has wetted your appetite for a visit to Powderham see the website which is continually updated to give you the best info.


We are also on Facebook and twitter so you can always reach us and share your great Powderham memories.

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Your brush with JLS

JLS are performing at the castle on 1st September 2012

JLS are coming to Powderham on 1st September and we can’t wait!


The JLS boys shot to fame in the 2008 X factor final when they came second to Leona Lewis.


They went on to have 2 number 1’s immediately with “Beat again” and “Everybody in love” and have won numerous awards.


The 4 lads  Ortise Williams, Marvin Humes, JB Gill and Aston Merrygold  are all set to super stardom as their easy going manner with fans and their huge talent continue to shine.


So this blog post is all about your brushes with the 4 band members. Have you spoken to them, have you helped them, maybe they spoke to you or danced with you. Share your JLS claims to fame with us all, you never know you may stand out from the crowd when they play at the castle on 1st September and you may get a second chance.


I’ll start you off, I was in a restaurant inLondona couple of years ago and bumped into (literally) Aston. I apologised profusely and he was very kind ( I think I may have actually trodden on the poor man). At the time I had no idea who he was and my friends (who did) were very upset with me for not getting his autograph. I wont do that again.


So over to you, can’t wait to hear your brushes with JLS!!

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Diary of a Castle Tour Guide . . . Hibernation time?



I was reminded a few days ago that it was primarily due to enquiries initiated via Twitter that I initially got the Castle Tour Guide job, just 12 short months ago. This Social Media malarkey has a lot to answer for!

So what actually happens in the 5 month period between the Castle closing after Spooky Tours week at the end of October and the brand new season, starting on 1st. April? Read on . . .

October: As I didn’t mention Spooky Tours in my last posting, I must just say what an absolute blast it turned out to be. I was only in for one day that week (it’s a very popular event with the guides), but got to dress up as Lord Devon’s 150 year old butler (yes, it did take a lot of make-up!) to take a couple of lucky groups round the castle. There were plenty of spooky happenings as we perambulated through the various rooms and I think the guests all enjoyed it as much as I did. One tip for anyone wanting to experience this lunacy next year, all the Spooky Tours the day I was in were fully booked (naturally, he said, with all due modesty!) as, I believe were all the others that week, so it really is necessary to book well in advance.

November/December: A total of three Christmas “Do’s” to attend (these guys at Powderham seem to relish any excuse for a party!) – the Tour Guides lunch at the Orangery Restaurant, up at the Country Store; the main event with Ten pin bowling followed by a meal in a pub in Exeter; and finally drinks & nibbles with Lord and Lady Devon at the Castle! The latter was attended by pretty much the entire estate staff as well as Charles, Lord Devon’s son and heir (apparently widely known as Charlie, but that did seem a tad informal!) together with his wife, AJ, and his kids Joscelyn & Jack, who himself is in line to one day become our 20th. Earl of Devon!

January: I receive a communication from the Castle inviting me to return for a further year of Tour Guiding – I guess I didn’t do too bad, then! Sadly, during a rather stormy period, one of the 200 year old Oak trees, lining the driveway up to the Castle, fell. But on the positive side, we had our first daffodils out during the first week of the month, which I think is pretty darn early. My TV career takes a boost with an appearance on the episode of Hungry Sailors, featuring Dick and James Strawbridge sailing round the South coast, which had been filmed in the Powderham Food Store about 9 months previously. Sadly this was but a “blink and you’ll miss it” occasion, so not anticipating a significant increase in fan mail.

February: Excellent posting on the blog, featuring an appreciative letter from a visitor who had been on one of my tours and was particularly interested in the spooky goings-on in the castle. It is always great to get such positive feedback but sadly I have to report that my suggestion to the management team that perhaps it shouldn’t be just the bankers who get performance bonuses, seems to have fallen on deaf ears! On the horticultural front, from the beginning of this month the snow drops are beginning to create a magnificent carpet alongside the Castle drive.

March: Digging out my reference materials to refresh the old memory on all those facts & figures that are needed to facilitate the touring process. Staff Training day in on 27th. March and I am told that we have recruited 3 more willing volunteers into the guiding team. Peter, our Head Guide, now having reached the tender age of 80 is passing on the baton of responsibility to John, who, I believe will be a more than capable replacement (that should get me the pick of the best duties!).

New for this season we have the recently restored Powderham Forge open as well as having TV Gardener Toby Buckland on board, running his online nursery from the walled garden and giving occasional garden tours. Jonty Depp is also back – hurrah! – and will be running Chocolate Factory Fortnight from day 1 of the new season.

Roll on 1st April!


Dave of Kenton.

Posted in Diary of a tour guide, Spooky Tour | Leave a comment

Spring Watch at Powderham

It may be cold outside and warmer hues may still feel a million miles away but nature’s alarm clock has gone off and our gardens and grounds are bursting into spring.


As March appears and  the pinching and punching dies away the flora and fauna quietly begin to brush the winter sleep away and are giving us a lovely show just in time for our April 1st Opening.


Our goose has laid her first egg. A sure sign that the warm weather is to follow. After double and triple checking we have to announce that it is not a golden egg!!


The daffodils pop up almost daily. A carpet of gold will await our visitors as they enter the castle grounds. It was Keats that wrote of the splendour of this magnificent bloom, it is difficult not to feel lifted as these amazing blooms sway in the breeze.


Our tortoises, Timmy and Eliza have woken up. Our keepers treated them to strawberries and grapes for their first breakfast and they seem very refreshed.


The chicks are beginning  to hatch, the hens are clucking around them and by Easter there will be plenty to pet in the walled garden.


Ahhh, Spring is here!

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Getting Goosebumps at Powderham

If you have been on the tour at the castle you would have heard mention about a couple of our resident ghosts. Here is a fantastic letter from a recent visitor who able to ‘lock in’ to that energy and tell us more about what he learned. We would love to hear from anyone else who has had a similar experience.

My family and I recently enjoyed a visit to your wonderful home, we started with the park tour seeing the deer quite up close at times, the stags were wonderful to see, we were treated to a tour by your guide Dave, he is very good and had a good balance of facts and points of interest for the children –  secret doors and the like .


He mentioned a couple of points which i was particularly interested in, those being the grey lady on the landing at the top of the stairs and how even now dogs will not venture into the room, I was able to ”sense” her presence in that corner of the room, Dave also mentioned how a bricked up room was found during alterations with a couple of skeletons inside, this fascinated me as I am in the later stages of training for mediumship, when we got back to our holiday home I was able to link in with the situation in that room, I was able to discern the following.


The first thing I got was the name ”Clary” possibly her name, she was a servant girl who had an illegitimate child (girl) by a man who’s name began with the letter R, I believe this man was a friend to the family, not a family member, his parents didn’t know of the birth of the child to their son. George is possibly the father of ”R” , They were a wealthy family.


She was a milliner or her surname was Milliner, she was a young teenage girl about 5′ 2” tall with short fair hair and a fair complexion, she was quiet. A shy housemaid perhaps.


A girl named Sara was her best friend but she was sent away in a horse and trap never to return to the house.


The year 1845 seems relevant to this but I am not sure how.


You also have a spirit/energy in the anti room downstairs.


Many thanks for taking the time to read this, I do hope there is some good information although I readily admit it is very difficult to check up unless you have had an independent source who comes up with similar information.

Once again many thanks for a  good day out, and thanks to Dave.


Roger J Hester.

Posted in Share your visit, The bad and the spooky, The Good | Tagged | Leave a comment

The Perfect Day Out

 We have been featuring some letters from visitors, here is a most beautiful example and really conjures up the essence of a day at Powderham. The weather is cold and gloomy at the moment but this piece of creative writing really offers the promise of the long summer to come. Enjoy! 

It was a grey Sunday morning and the children had been awake for hours. It was going to be one of those days when the kids become restless and end up arguing. On the spur of the moment, my husband and I decided to take the children to Powderham castle. We hoped there would be sufficient there to keep them occupied for the day.

On our arrival, we were made to feel very welcome. It was an overcast morning with the promise of rain to come, so we decided to start outside.

The first Nature trial started in the car park as a dirt track alongside a meadow. It was a peaceful stroll.  The children ran along shouting out the names of birds and plants they recognised. Along the path edge we discovered brambles, nettles, dock and grasses. Above us beech, birch and holly trees rose. The children picked various leaves to compare.  Periodic signs would inform us of the fauna and flora to look out for. A heron made an ungainly lift off and flew along side us for a while. I had never seen one so close before.

The walled garden was like something out of an old novel. We pushed open the big gates, full of expectation. There in front of us was a treasure trove we could easily lose the day discovering. Chickens, ducks and quail were free roaming.

The children ran, excitedly from hutch to pen, exclaiming about rabbits, chinchillas and ponies. The whole place smelled earthy and familiar, the musky scent of donkey mixed with the fresh dampness of the day. We spotted the fort and the children were off. The sound of their laughter made me smile. I sat down to enjoy the beautiful surroundings and listen to the harmonious animal chatter. Oh, how I had always dreamed of a walled garden. There is something so exquisitely childish and secretive about a hidden place.

Next we took a second Nature trail around the castle wall. From there, the views of the Exe estuary were breathtaking. We caught glimpses of swans between the reeds. The trail led us round to the front of the castle and there we came across the rose garden. What a splendid sight! Roses in all stages of flowering, from bud to falling bloom, filled the beds. It was the most peaceful place, only the sounds of wild birds and bees could be heard. The flowers ranged in colour from bright yellow to deep magenta. I could have spent the entire day in the solitude and calm of that smallEden.

Thedeer parksafari amounted to a tractor and open sided trailer with benches either side. It was starting to turn a little chilly and we wrapped our sweaters tighter around ourselves. The ride was fun in itself, bumping and undulating over the uneven ground and then we spotted the deer. The park is home to 600 fallow deer. We drove up close to them. They were leaping and playing together. The children loved watching them and their excitement was tangible. We drove around the entire perimeter of the castle, through acres of meadow left to grow wild.

On returning from the safari we walked up the path to the castle entrance.

It is a magnificent building and all the more delightful when you know it is still owned by the same family, currently the 18th Earl and Countess ofDevon. It is steeped with 600 years of history.

Entering the courtyard, we noticed a quaint tearoom with beautiful hanging baskets decorating the doorway. The easy chatter coming from within and the smell of freshly made soup enticed us inside. It was a warm and homely interior, covered with paintings depicting castle scenes and close up photographs of the deer.

The only children on the tour were ours and I was worried that they might get bored. However, our guide excelled at capturing their imaginations. He actively encouraged the children to participate and he adapted his tour to suit them. We moved from one magnificent room to the next, in total awe of the size and incredible décor. The guide described the history, architecture and restoration as though he had personally lived through it. The children became quite spirited when searching for the secret doorways. The rooms were majestic, filled with the most ornate furniture. Enormous portraits adorned the walls.  The ghost stories were spellbinding. The children loved the old nursery, chatting endlessly about the toys and how little they have changed. The grand, medieval staircase was an amazing sight, towering above us in a hall decorated with the most intricate of designs.

I was amazed that our guide had managed to captivate and entertain us all for well over an hour.

After the tour we strolled over to the shop where the children were presented with a medal for their efforts on the Nature Trails.

I looked at the bright, naturally flushed faces of my children and was delighted to see that they were beaming. We had had a most wonderful and exhilarating day.

By Emma Milliner

Posted in Letters | 2 Comments

Art at Powderham

If you have been following social media you may well have noticed our calls to hear from artists who are inspired by our particular corner of South Devon.


We at Powderham feel incredibly privileged to call this little part of England home and love to welcome others to enjoy the open spaces, the wonderful views, history and clean air that Devon offers.


Over the coming months we are very keen to hear from artists, professional and amateur, who use South Devon as their muse. You could be an amateur artist who has a piece of work of the area that they are particularly proud of, you may be an art society who’s members are from the area and would like to organise a painting trip or you maybe an established artist who would like to discuss showcasing their work at an event.


We would welcome you to contact us with an example of your work or an explanation of your group or idea so we can add your details to our artist register so we can keep you posted on any art inspired events or ideas that we may progress as the months go on.


Please get in contact via e mail to, in the subject heading please write. ARTISTS REGISTER.


We look forward to hearing from you

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How a cycle ride to Powderham became one to remember…..but for all the wrong reasons

In our blog series about the highs and lows of life at Powerdham we are going through our letters bag and sharing with you some we receive.

Good Morning

Last week we were on holiday in Devon and decided to cycle along the river fromExeterwith our 2 children, aged 11& 8, to Powderham castle for a picnic and to look around. Having been on the cycle trail before (as far as Exminster) we knew that it was all well signposted so didn’t take a map with us. When we got past Turf Lock the cycle route was tricky to do but we persevered as we could see the castle in the distance. As there were no more signs, we followed our noses as it were and turned right off the path atPowderhamChurch. We were pleased we were nearly there – or so we thought!

We got to a gate which told us to carry on the road to get to the entrance. We did this but the road kept on going… After another mile or so we got to a busy road – the road to Dawlish. As we were determined to visit the castle, we kept going, looking at the sign which said 1 mile to the castle. As you may be able to imagine, this was a scary journey to make with children on bikes who had only been on country lanes and paths before. The cars and caravans pushed past us, often passing one of us at a time and then pulling in quickly in front of us. After another mile (my husband checked the distances in the car later in the week) there was a sign sayingPowderhamCastle, ¾ mile. We told the children that we were nearly there and kept going. In total, the journey from the sign on the A379 was 2 miles – not 1 mile – and from the church about 3 ½ miles on dangerous roads!

When we got to the gate we were very relieved and asked the guides if we could get home a safer way. He told us the way back – all flat and much easier and safer.

I just wanted to inform you really of the situation – just a simple sign by Powderham church is all that is needed to tell people the way to your wonderful castle. I feel this would encourage more to visit you – and prevent accidents. If our children had been younger – and the traffic worse – I think the day would have ended very differently.

What a frightening experience for all concerned! We were appalled at the ‘what might have been’ and are now in correspondence with the local council to get some clear signage en route. Watch this space.

Posted in The bad and the spooky | Leave a comment

Santa, Are you there?

The Staff in the Estate office are making their Christmas lists, here’s what we want in our stockings this year.

Ingrid – the manual for the Estate Office heating system, failing that some woolly gloves, leg warmers and ear muffs.
Simon – dog training lessons for Tess and Fudge
Clare – Harry from McFly ( vote Harry!)
Felicity – a pencil case, plus a left-handed ink pen with a broad nib.
June – Lawn mower repair man
Glenis, her son home for Christmas

What would you like in yours?

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The highs, the lows and the medium of serving the public

We are closed now until next spring but work still goes on at the castle namely making it even lovelier for next years visitors and planning weddings, corporate events and educational visits.

We wanted to share with you a selection of letters and feedback we receive. This series of 3 in our blog is called the good, the bad and the spooky.

The first is an unedited letter we received from a couple who came to visit us this past season.

I just wanted to write to say ‘Thank you’ for opening your home to the public and for facilitating very memorable experiences.

I am a native ofDevonand as a child used to live in Starcross.  I have many fond memories of walking through the footpaths or cycling beside the Estate and observing the Deer at close quarters.  I also remember joining the Castle tour many moons ago.

Over the intervening years I have been very impressed with the way you have extended the areas open to the public; added the restaurant* and shop; and introduced many revenue raising events without spoiling the overall effect.  *(My husband-to-be and I ate our first meal together in the Restaurant.)

This past summer I visited with my own children and mother (Maggie Hayes from the Old Vicarage) and we had so much fun in theWalledGardenand on the Safari, that we ran out of time and decided to take advantage of the offer to return again another time.

I now live inScotlandand their 1/2 term is earlier than most so last Monday we visited Powderham to do everything again, plus the Castle tour.  The Deer Safari was particularly spectacular due to the Bucks territorial behaviour and we were able to get much closer to those magnificent animals.  My daughters took full advantage of the activities in theWalledGarden, and this time we managed to take the last tour of the Castle itself.  This was very timely as my children are studying ‘Castles’ for a School project.  We took the last tour of the day at 3.45 and our guide was called Keith.  He directed the tour more towards the children as there was another family with us who had 5 children.  I wanted to note how engaging he was and how magical he made the tour for the adults, as well as the children.  A member of staff who so loves his work and who can pass on all the information as though it was the first time he’d ever shared this amazing story, is one to be valued.  Please pass on our heartfelt appreciation to him.

Now that we are back inScotlandand sharing the highlights of our trip toDevonwith family and friends, the day at Powderham is the main topic of conversation.  We purchased the brochure and some of the Knights and their Horses in all their regalia to take to School and show the class, so no doubt even more children will enjoy our trip even if it is vicariously.

In this day and age people are often too quick to complain and I felt so moved by our recent visit, and the fond memories it inspired, that I wanted to take the time to show some appreciation.  I would be very happy for you to use any of this text in your promotional literature if you feel it would be appropriate.

Thank you once again.

Jackie Paterson (nee Hayes)

Galesha and DevinaPaterson

It’s lovely to receive some positive feedback. 40,000 visitors pass through our gates every year and it is great to hear that the training, hard work and  attention to detail are worthwhile when visitors go away with a lovely impression of the Castle andDevon.

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Only 54 days until Christmas

We may have closed our doors for the rest of the year but the insides of the castle still hum with activity and festivity.

It’s November 1st (already) and there are only 54 shopping days to Christmas (yikes!)

On Thursday 3rd November the castle will be a fabulous backdrop to a unique shopping event to help you get in a Christmassy mood and maybe inspire you for a gift for friends or family, or even yourself!!

The high street can be a bit ‘samey’ and the problem with the internet is that you just cant feel it, and if there are problems like last year with the snow and postage you may not even receive it for the big day.

Why not start your shopping with a great day out and see some of theUK’s most unique retailers and crafters and find a gift that really puts a sparkle under the tree.

If you have a piece of jewellery you would like valued bring it along and our generous sponsors  Bearnes Hampton and littlewood will give you a free verbal valuation. Present your entry ticket to  Jethro Marles on the day.

The event is being run as a fundraiser for the Soldiers charity ABF so you can shop and be inspired all for a good cause.

Entry is £4

Doors Open 10am-3pm

Christmas Shopping at the castle

Come and join us for a unique Christmas shopping event

Posted in Michaelmas Fair, Special Events | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

What to expect if you are visiting this week

We thought it would be helpful to add a blog post about our Spooky tours week and what is going on in and around the castle.

We hope we have the balance right. It’s important for us to be a day out for all the family and one that you will remember for a long time.

It is Halloween and with that in mind we are changing the tours to incorporate a more spooky element. On the spooky tours you will be shown around by a rather glum butler or maid, the lights will be turned down low and you will hear tales of past inhabitants, some of whom may make themselves felt or heard. Oooh! The Spooky session will follow on from the spooky tour . Our Mad Scientist or Witch will meet you in the courtyard. You will be escorted to the Pleasure Garden where you partake in  a scavenger hunt for some bones/body parts outside the ‘Witch’s Hut’ and then on to the  Science lab to watch the wonderful Jonty Depp as the mad scientist make a final appearance for the season and create some rather gruesome experiments. The tour will appeal to all ages who like a bit of light frightening!

If this isn’t for you and you would like the regular tour with no bumps or spooks then they will be available too.

For the spooky tour it is important that you book up in advance as they are very popular. The times are:-12pm, 1.30pm and 3pm. Regular tours will run at 11.15, 12.45, 2.15 and 3.45.

Spooky Tickets are limited to 40. Any tickets not sold in advance will be available to purchase from the Welcome Hut on the day

The Deer Park Safari

It is a magnificent time to see the deer park. You are taken in a covered giant tractor around the Deer parkand because of the ‘attitude’ of the deer at this time of year they tend to hold their ground so you can get really close and take some terrific pictures. This half term week the Deer Park Safari is included in the entry price so an excellent way for the children to enjoy a unique experience.

Pumpkin Trail

Pumpkins are a must this time of year, brilliant in soups and pie’s and we have a complete trail of them to keep the little one’s busy for a while. It will finish in one of our greenhouses where you will find Priscilla the 30 stone giant Pumpkin!! Yep you read it right! Come and have a look for yourself.

An 18 Stone Pumpkin at Powderham Castle

Come and See Priscilla the Pumpkin on the pumpkin trail

So you see Powderham offers plenty, rain or shine for young and old. We close on 30th October and will not open again until Spring next year, so if you have been meaning to pop over and see Devon’s most welcoming Grand family home has to offer; now really is your last chance.

Posted in Deer Park, Devon, Pumpkin Trail, Safari, Special Events, Spooky Tour, The Deer Park | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

October is bitter sweet

It is sweet because there is so much going on; The gardens are magnificent in their autumn colour. Because of our capricious climate of late the grounds are even more resplendent in autumn hues of gold and reds. The deer rutting is in full swing and everyday there are strange noises echoing from the deer park as the deer jostle for position. The castle becomes all spooky as the guides tell of evil deeds and inhabitants from days gone by.


And bitter, well, because we are closing in a few days time.


On 30th October we will wave goodbye for the last time of our season to the last visitor; of  2011.


So if you have been meaning to make it over and see us, there is no time like the present.

Posted in Deer Park, Rutting. October, The Deer Park, wildlife | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Diary of a Castle Tour Guide . . . Touring at warp factor 9

Well, I can say I wasn’t warned by the experienced Guides that peak season was going to be much busier than the first few months. For the 6 weeks between July 24th and September 2nd  our opening hours extended by an hour to 5:30 pm; tour frequency increased from 7 per day (every 45 mins) to 11 (every 30 mins) and of the 37 days we were open (including one Bank Holiday weekend Saturday) I worked 30 of them.  The good news was that there was a new dedicated ice cream hut installed, so we no longer had to sell lollies, but the bad news was that the Victorian Kitchen was to be an additional “stand-alone” feature, requiring we Guides to man it for ½ a day at a time. This in addition to doubling up manning of the Welcome Hut (ticket booth) during busy hours and, of course, litter picking, provided plenty of scope for keeping us well occupied.

In the week before this I almost managed to cause one luckless guest a heart attack whilst covering the gift shop at lunchtime, when I tried to charge them 3 ½ grand for two small items. Whilst this would have proved a welcome boost to takings, I quickly realised that I had simply entered £3.50 twice, without the till spotting that this was for 2 items – obviously the till’s fault, not mine!

So, Highlights from those frantic 6 weeks:

24/07 Enchanted Dragons week enhanced by the appearance of 2 large Chinook Helicopters – apparently they only managed to avoid hitting the castle when our resident witch turned them away with her wand!

03/08 Sadly, just as we are getting into the swing of the new schedules, Peter, our Head Guide, took a fall and had to be off work for a couple of weeks. This required rapid reworking of rotas to provide cover but did mean the VictorianKitchen reverted to being unmanned (albeit added on to the end of tours, so guests didn’t miss out).

04/08 – A fascinating question from one of the guests on my tour today – “Do you ever appear in Panto?”. Hopefully this reflected the spirited manner in which I endeavour to run my tours, rather than suggesting I looked like a bloke dressed as a woman. And for those who don’t know, yes, I have been both appearing in and producing pantomimes in Kenton for about 14 years now – Oh yes I have! Book your seats now for this year’s presentation of Mother Goose, Oct. 27th – 29th.

07/08 – Another day dawns and I’m whizzing through the courtyard just before opening time, when I notice a chap strolling in my general direction. Not recognising him and thinking he may be involved with the archery event being held that day, I greeted him with a friendly “Hello, mate”! Later, down in the Guides room, I am advised to keep an eye out, as Charles Courtenay (son & heir) is in the Castle today and I start to think – had I actually seen that face before in a number of family photos around the place?

08/08 Great news – managed to blag a whole box of Devonshire Tea from the lovely ladies in the Tea Room today. Had previously been surviving on handfuls of other teabags, not of theDevonshirevariety, which had been sent over. Many thanks to Gavin and the team for creating such a reviving brew!

16/08 Whilst it has not been unusual to spot either Lord or Lady Devon on occasions around the Castle from time to time, today I bumped into his Lordship 3 times. The last of which was in the gents by the Estate offices. Even though I had studied Debretts web site to check for the correct forms of address in various scenarios, this one had me somewhat tongue tied! Fortunately, in his usual friendly manner, he simply commented on the need to get the paintwork attended to.

16/08 Got my 1st. First Aid call for assistance today. As usual, adrenaline levels rising rapidly as I go to check. Proves to be an older gent with a bee sting on his chest. Fortunately he is relaxed about it and has no previous history of adverse reactions to such attacks (potentially anaphylactic shock scenario, for those in the know) and apart from the soreness, has no other symptoms, so advise he goes down to local pharmacy (5 min drive away)to get appropriate medication, which he was happy to comply with.

19/08 Tours varying considerably in numbers now, frequently depending on whether they clash with the Themed Week events for each day. Today I hit my record number – 61 people in 1 tour. Difficult to converse clearly with such a number, let alone the practical issues involved in navigating them round the 12 rooms we visit, within the allotted 60 minutes. Have heard rumours of tours in previous years with in excess of 100 people on them – nightmare scenario!

26/08 Happily (!) selling tickets in the Welcome Hut this morning when a bloke asked what time my next tour was going to be. He explained that the family had come for a return visit and that his kids had told him how much they had enjoyed my tour previously, so he wanted the same Guide. Modesty forbids any further comment, other than that I was really touched. If only I got as much positive feedback as we have heard for Jonty and his team – both kids and adults alike praising the fantastic themed week shows they put on throughout the 6 weeks – and rightly so!

27/08 Bank Holiday Saturday, but the peak season finishing line is now in sight – what could possibly go wrong? Well, the sign of diggers as I walked up to the Castle didn’t bode well. Apparently one of the Victoriandrains had collapsed the previous evening, cutting off water to various areas, including the loos. The good news was that someone had reacted very swiftly as Portaloos (posh ones!) were already being installed in the courtyard. The bad news was that, coincidentally, the contract cleaner for the toilets had taken the Bank Holiday weekend off and his deputy wasn’t available. So muggins was given the glad tidings that the Guides would have to cover and guess-who got first go with the mop and bucket?

Looking forward to a slightly more relaxed period and then – SpookyToursWeek – bring it on!

Spooky Tours 24th -30th October, is anybody there?????

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Safari Devon

Deer rutting is a very important time in the Powderham calendar.

Amber Green Photography

Buck Fallow Deer relaxing in the grounds of magnificent Powderham castle (Amber Green Photography)

If you have not visited or have not been on theDeer parkSafari then there is a very special offer at the end of this article.

The rutting season is when the strongest male in the herd gathers all the females in preparation for the mating season. The other males of course, are having none of this and fight for the right and superiority.

The stags lock horns and push back and forward gaining territory and proving to each other and the rest of the herd their strength and vigour.

All this is very macho and in the human world would be totally unacceptable however in the world of nature it is spectacular.

At Powderham we have a herd of around 650 Fallow Deer and you can get really close on our Deer Park Safari’s which is only an extra £2 when you purchase a day ticket.

On our Safari’s we take you on our custom built tractor and trailer and get you up close and personal with these magnificent animals. It is totally safe and you are in the ever watchful eye of our excellent driver. This is an excellent time to take a safari round the deer park, the deer are much braver and the rutting instinct makes them ‘hold their ground’ meaning the safari tours can get a much better view and get much closer to the animals.

Simon Fishwick our Estate Director says,      “Everyone associated with the herd here at Powderham are very proud, rutting season is a time that we look forward to as it shows that the herd is well and will be going forward stronger into the next season, it is a privilege to share it with our visitors”

Special offer

If you would like to visit especially for the Deer safari then every Thursday in October we are offering a cream teadeer parksafari at 2.30pm extended ‘Rutting’ tour for £10. You will enjoy a cream tea in our award winning tea room and then join the safari where you are free to take pictures and enjoy this amazing natural phenomenon as well as the extended grounds which cannot be seen on foot which are particularly resplendent with autumnal colour. We know interest in this extra special event will be very high as there are very few places in the world where you can get this close to so many of these magnificent creatures so booking is essential on 01626 890243 (Monday to Friday during office hours) Please note you are welcome to visit any time after 11am and take the cream tea when you choose. The special safari will take place at 2.30pm.

Estate Director of Powderham Castle Simon Fishwick

Proud of Powderham Castle's herd of 650+ Fallow Deer

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What a week!

There are some marvellous comings and goings at the castle.

Last week saw Robin hood and his merry men try and defeat the evil sheriff of Powderham.

Here’s some great video’s from the week. Lots more going on during the rest of the holidays.

Sunday 14th August- 19th August Mad Science Week

Sunday 21st August – 26th August Pirate Week

Last chance to see captain Jack Sparrow and join in with the pirate tomfoolery. OOhAagh!

Saturday 27th August – Friday 2nd September Wonderland Week

Don’t be late to see the mad hatter and follow the elusive white rabbit’s trail through the grounds.

Look forward to seeing you.

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Run for Charity!

A great backdrop for a good cause

The second annual FORCE & Francis Clark 10K run in aid of theExeterbased cancer charity takes place on Sunday 11th September and has already attracted over 200 runners.  We are now calling for more entries to reach a total of 500 runners on the day.  I would encourage everyone who runs to consider entering this event.  It must have the most picturesque course of any cross-country event and generates a wonderful family atmosphere.

The run starts in the beautiful grounds ofPowderhamCastle, meanders along a pathway out of the estate and along to the main road. From there it passes Starcross Yacht Club and St Clement’s Church before entering Powderham woods and returning down a woodland track to the Castle.

The main, chip-timed, 10K run for runners of all abilities will be followed by a family fun run where parents are invited to join their children on their own 2K course.

FORCE relies entirely on voluntary contributions to fund its work in research, the purchase of advanced equipment and running the cancer support and information centre at theRoyalDevon & ExeterHospital.

Last year we raised over £15,000, this year we aim to exceed this, but we need your help!

The event starts at 10.45 am on Sunday, September 11, in the castle grounds with a pre-race warm up with the main run commencing at 11.00 am.  The 2K family run takes place after the main race has started and there will be refreshments available.

To book a place visit:  FORCE or call 01392 402875.

We look forward to seeing you there!

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Diary of a Castle Tour Guide . . . The Lull before the storm?

Join in the Fairytale fun at Powderham Castle

Whilst the Wisteria blooms may have now faded the roses are blooming lovely!

With the notable exception of the hectic half-term period (Pirate Week, end of May / beginning of June – another Jonty Depp spectacular!), visitor numbers over the last few weeks have been reasonably steady. We have had coach parties in on most days, which has kept things ticking over nicely, but the experienced guides keep telling me that the six week period from 24th July through to the 2nd September is when things will really get lively. Having now seen the initial schedule for July, in which I am down to be working for 11 days (more than double the predicted number for June) it looks like things are going to start building towards that quite quickly.

A quick reminder about the beautiful flowers, scenic views and general tranquillity that can be enjoyed in our Woodland garden and a suggestion that if you want to enjoy this Spring Garden, please come soon as it is available until 1st August.

So, what excitement has befallen our new Guide since our last communication? Friday’s are often one of our quietest days, as we have our last tour at 2:30 (to allow time to set up for weddings, which are frequently scheduled to happen on Saturdays). One such occasion, towards the end of May found our correspondent doing the late shift in the Welcome Hut (ticket box to you and me!). Around 2 o’clock and things are looking rather quiet when, all of a sudden, a large crowd of what turn out to be Dutch tourists, come walking over the bridge coming down from the Country Store. They tell me they have a couple of hours spare before their coach takes them on to their next destination and would like to look round the castle. Looking to turn this into a prime sales opportunity, I offer them group rates for 2 dozen to go round the castle and another dozen to just walk the grounds (an out-of-holiday season option). In one swift move I must have made a significant contribution to our takings for the day and am still awaiting my Salesman of the Month bonus!

Another day, another tour – earlier in May with a small group of about 10 people, including a keen young lad, asking plenty of probing questions, with his Dad. At the end of the tour, Dad comes over to say how much they had both enjoyed the tour and how he had been worried that his son wouldn’t have wanted to stay for the full tour, as he suffers with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, so is easily bored. I can honestly say that I was very touched to get such fulsome feedback on my humble efforts.

Early June and a lovely evening out after work at the Ship Inn in Cockwood to celebrate the forthcoming wedding of one of our Guides, Pamela to the very handsome Steve (well, he was paying for the rather scrumptious grub which they had laid on!). Best wishes for a great future together to the both of them.

Given that it has been so unusual, I must comment on the remarkable weather we have been enjoying. Given that we normally we expect Spring showers and lots of them around this time of the year, I can’t remember such a long dry and frequently sunny and warm period. Sadly the unpredictability of our weather is still evident as discovered by a party of 40 Twinners with their French guests who visited us for a picnic in the Grounds on the Sunday when the Heavens finally opened and we got a month’s rain in one go! Whilst we arranged to open the oldRidingSchoolbuilding so they could be out of the worst of it, they took the decision to abandon it and go to the pub instead. British resolve at its best!

Final word must go to the young girl (probably about four or five) who was waiting in the courtyard for one of my tours to start last Sunday. I was having a chat with her Mum, whist waiting for a few others to arrive when she suddenly announced “You’re a REAL Pirate, aren’t you?”. I had no option but to confess that yes, I was and would be reporting for duty on my ship as usual at 9.00 on Monday morning for a full week of pirating. She then went on to explain this in great detail to all the others who joined our group. Eat your heart out, Captain Jack Sparrow!

If this turns out to be my final Blog and I appear to have disappeared from the face of the Earth, then can I suggest that the Enchanted Dragons are questioned closely? That Jonty can hold a mighty fierce grudge!

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4 Generations visit the castle

When William Laws asked his daughter Grace, where she would like to go  for her birthday he was quite surprised to hear her say Powderham Castle. Apparently she had been there on a school trip a few months before and had loved it.  As they planned their trip to celebrate the very important 3rd Birthday Granny and Great Grandma said they would like to come along too.

William, an enthusiastic user of social media for his chimney sweeping and woodburning stove business, contacted us through Twitter to ask if we had a wheelchair for Great Granny as she was worried about walking around the castle and grounds.

At Powderham we love to help people make their days special and were delighted that the 4 of them were visiting. We are very proud that our castle attracts lots of different age groups, we are a family home afterall and want people to feel ‘at home’ here.

William shared some great pictures on Facebook and told us that  “Grace enjoyed the tour and loved to see the old fashioned toys in the playroom and most of the tour was accessible to granny who is not as solid on her feet as she once was!”

After lunch in the café, a play on the fort and some time in the walled garden, they all went home happy. Even the changeable weather didn’t take away the smiles.

If you have a story to tell about your visit to Powderham please contact us. If you have photo’s of your special day we would love to see them on facebook and hear about your day on twitter. If you share your day with us you will be entered in to a monthly draw to win a family ticket.

We want to make your visit as memorable as possible so if we can help in any way, just ask!

Powderham Castle is a home from home for families

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Treat Dad to a day out he’ll remember

What are your plans for Fathers day? As Devon’s foremost family day out we are planning a really special day that the whole family, whatever their age can enjoy.

Powderham Castle hits the spot for Fathers DAy

Treat Dad to a day out he’ll remember at Powderham Castle this Sunday. All Dads are invited to visit for FREE, when accompanied by a paying child. They will love to test their accuracy skills with archery and the thrill of handling a bird of prey.


We are planning a really lovely day for all the family, but particularly with Dads in mind. As well as receiving complimentary admission he will be able to indulge his “hunter/gatherer” spirit too.


Hawkridge Birds of Prey will be here with their family of majestic birds. Have you ever held an eagle owl or a sparrow hawk?  Be in awe of their sharp eyesight, see their razor-like talons up close and feel the power of their wings. Dad will also find out what the term ‘under the thumb’ really means!


Why not have a go at archery with Exeter Company of Archers who will be on hand to instruct and pass on their amazing archery skills. It’s not as hard as it looks…to fire the arrow – hitting the target is another matter!

Simon Fishwick, Estate Director:

‘The Castle is the perfect place to celebrate Fathers Day. It will be a day of ‘boys with their outdoor toys’ and great fun for all the family. We are so fortunate to have these wonderful outdoor pursuits on our doorstep in Devon.’

All the usual attractions are open as normal, including regular guided tours around the stunning Castle rooms, Deer Park Safaris on the tractor trailer, friendly animals, an adventure play castle, nature trail and treasure trails.


We look forward to seeing you. Happy Fathers Day!





















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Top tips from the potting shed

David Palmer tending to the Powderham Castle Roses

David Palmer our head gardener shares a few Powderham secrets

Devon residents may have seen the Express and Echo article about our wonderful Roses at PowderhamCastle. It was also a revelation for many experienced and not so experienced gardeners that the roses at Powderham are kept so prolific partly due to a lack of watering. With hose pipe bans imminent many gardeners were jumping for joy; David is keen to point out before you stop watering your blooms that the Powderham roses need little watering due to the huge amount of well rotted manure that they are regularly fed (there is plenty of that at our disposal!!)

We thought it would be a great idea to bring you some insight on the man behind the lawnmower. Our very own self taught gardener David Palmer who is 41 and married with 2 children.

David’s ‘green fingers’ were inspired by his father who had a market garden and a greengrocers shop before running a small farm. David followed in his Dad’s muddy boots and attended BictonCollege.

In 1998 he successfully got a job as a Powderham under gardener and became Head gardener 6 years ago when the old head gardener retired. There is not a fast turnover of staff at Powderham!

The Gardening teams job is a constant balancing act, they have to work around the visitors but also ensure the plants get what they need when they need it. The majority of jobs are on a really large scale; the wisteria in the Rose Garden has to be trimmed with a ‘cherry picker’ and the area cordoned off  for the safety of our visitors. According to experts, it should be pruned  in July/August and then again in January/February, But we just do it the once in September/October so we don’t interfere with the visitors enjoyment of the blooms and access to the grounds.

David says his favorite job is cutting the grass. There is certainly a lot of it to mow every week between February and November. He has some  help  in the form of a ride on mower and Robert, one of the under gardeners. The precise stripes on the lawn are achieved by a roller and a lot of patience.

David’s Top Tips

1. Dead-head bedding plants regularly so they flower for a longer period. We have masses of blooms in boxes and hanging baskets outside the Tea Room and Gift Shop; as well as the Welcome Hut and WalledGarden. Not to mention the large urn in the Rose Garden and 7 tubs along the main road at the entrance. Phew! That’s a lot of dead-heading but well worth it when you see the fantastic results week after week.

2. Take pictures of your flowers and plants in bloom to refer to when planting season comes round; then you know where they will come up. We do this for planting daffodils here, but it is a good tip for any garden.

3. Beware of bluebells!  Make sure you don’t mistake them for grass – The young plants look like grass and it is easy to mow over them which would be a terrible shame.  – (this is where pictures are useful)

4. Leaves – Use them for mulching –  Powderham has a lot of leaves falling in the autumn and these are gathered and mulched down and mixed with the horse manure. This is really excellent stuff, the garden loves it and rewards us year after year. He mulches all the beds annually in the winter (on a dry day for obvious reasons!)

5. Pests and Diseases – Use natural methods to keep them at bay– Powderham is an established natural environment and we are fortunate enough not to get many pests and diseases. We get ‘black spot’ occasionally at the end of the season. If we do we use a fungicidal spray on the roses before mulching. However the best way is to let nature manage it for you – if left alone it keeps a natural balance, for example, Ladybirds eat the greenfly so we make sure our garden is attractive to them as well as bees and butterflies. Use insecticides only as a last resort, when you start this process you have to continue as the natural cycle has been broken.

6. Daffodil leaves should not be cut back until the leaves turn yellow – the leaves create energy for the following season. The problem on the Estate is that yellow daffodil leaves look unsightly for our visitors when the Castle opens in the spring. Our Daffodils are re-planted in September /October, this year David plans to plant in excess of 2000 bulbs.

7. Water  Don’t over water –  The best tip, especially those on a water meter and with the impending hose pipe ban, is to let the plants tell you when they need watering. Watering becomes a habit that unfortunately makes plants lazy as they won’t send their roots so far to find water.

Happy Gardening. If you have some top tips to share we would love to hear them.

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Diary of a Castle Tour Guide . . . Flying solo

Our intrepid new Tour Guide, Dave of Kenton, eases gently into the saddle. Another month on and many new developments – primarily that only two days after my last post (neither of which involved me picking up more knowledge by shadowing other guides) I got 10 minutes’ notice that I would be flying solo – taking my own tour without even the safety net of another guide as back-up! All seemed to go OK, however and one kind chap at the end said that I shouldn’t have bothered to say in the introduction that I was still a trainee, as I had sounded so knowledgeable! So what else is worth sharing with you? I have been up to the Walled Garden a couple of times, whilst litter picking, to see Maria and her menagerie of little (and some not so little) animals in the pets corner. So cute – and the animals are pretty nice, too! Whilst the Walled Garden is brilliant for the kids, with the massive Courtenay Fort, zip wire and other play items, if you want to find a little peace and quiet, the real tip is to carry on to the Woodland Garden. Here the spring flowers are in top form at the moment, the views across to Haldon Forest superb and the open water in the leat for the sawmill (which is huge and looks more like a canal!) adds perfectly to the tranquillity of the place. Two totally contrasting events relating to sessions in the Mad House (sorry, Welcome Hut) where we sell day tickets, authenticate tickets for free readmission (don’t forget, if you visit us, to get this done before you leave – this can be done at the Gift Shop too), sell Ice Creams (four flavours of Magnum and did you know there is now a Smartie filled lolly?) and issue season tickets (which can also be done at the Gift Shop – hint, hint!). Just after finishing my morning shift, I had helped point a coach party in the direction of the Castle courtyard and was strolling back to cover the gift shop lunch break, prior to running two tours in the afternoon (please, no sympathy, we do it for the love of the job – at least that’s what they keep telling me!). As the coach is reversing back, the group leader leans out of the window and shouts across – “one of the ladies in the group likes the look of you – REALLY likes you!” And even more scary than that, last weekend, whilst again manning the Happy Hut, at the 11:00 rush I discover the Credit Card machine is not responding. Trying to summon help, I also discover the phone is similarly knackered. A coincidence – I think not, but am stuck for over an hour before I eventually summon help on my mobile, all the time trying to persuade visitors how much more appropriate to a medieval castle environment, good old fashioned cash transactions are. As mentioned last time, during the main school holidays we are now opening the Victorian Kitchen as a stand-alone attraction, which gives us Tour Guides another task, as we take turns to man it for half a day at a time. Sadly (or possibly not, if you have ever seen my knees) I didn’t get to dress up as a cook, but had a proper chef’s outfit. One wag suggested that I looked like I had just come from the restaurant at Claridges, but despite its modern look, I am assured that it is an authentic Victorian one. As I didn’t know in advance that I was to be given this opportunity, I didn’t have a camera with me that day, but will endeavour to grab a picture next time and give you all a laugh. Give me tours anytime! Talking of which, we are encouraged to point the groups we take round the castle to the Visitors comments book at the end of each tour. I am delighted to say that I have already had many positive items of feedback, including one from a very keen 10 year old lad, which read simply “Thanks Dave”. However I have to say the best feedback so far came from a lady who left a note embellished with a portrait of our Sovereign Lady in my astonished hand. Possibly even more spooky than this was a subsequent tour when, at its end, another lady with just the suspicion of an American accent, suggested that the way I had taken the tour reminded her of Hugh Laurie in the program House. She did hasten to add that that was meant to be a compliment, but I am still trying to figure if she meant I was grumpy or just appeared to walk with a limp! And at last I have my name badge, so there really is no hiding place. If you have enjoyed the blogs and come to the castle, I am the one with “Dave” on the badge – do say hello. If you haven’t enjoyed the blogs, look for the guy with “Henry” on his!

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Meet the Neighbours

If you go down to the walled garden today you are sure of a big surprise….

At every twist and turn you will find it filled with new life of the fur and feathered variety. We are also asking for your help with a very important task.

But first our cleverest neighbour, Kinder, a Dartmoor Hill pony who until last year was running on Dartmoor. He received his name as he was a total surprise when he was born and Kinder means child in German, He is a very talented performer and loves to do tricks, including flag flying and jumping through hoops. He has been trained by Vanesa Bee, a professional trainer with Horse Agility club of Great Britain. Next week he will be the star of the show at Devon’s big day out, The Devon County Show.

How cute is ‘Bernard’ the guinea pig, our most chilled out resident. He loves to be petted and stroked and is always grateful for a handful of clover or a tasty dandelion. If you don’t have a pet at home why not pop in to see Bernard he’ll be very happy you did.

Now a bit of sad news, believe it or not someone really mean stole our incubator over Easter including some of the eggs from our precious Golden Pheasants. It had been a really exciting time for us as the female was new to Powderham and just as she began to lay this rotten act happened. All the staff and regular visitors were incensed that someone would be so cruel. We had to send the rest of the eggs off site to be incubated.

Have you heard the tale of the ugly duckling? Well we have had our own version of the famous Hans Christian Anderson story. Some new ducklings have been hatched under a very bossy Chicken. Their own mother rejected the eggs (maybe because they had also been tampered with) we placed them under one of our older chickens and she sat on them night and day. They are now hatched and the sight of the ducks following the chicken around is heart warming.

For those who like their pets to be a bit less furry and a bit more prickly here is our resident pet hedgehog, we are also very much obliged to Huffle Puff who’s special treat is meal worms.

Finally how you can help us. We need a name for our beautiful pair of Golden Pheasants. Because we are involved in Social Media, such as Twitter and facebook,we thought Mr and Mrs Twitter would be good names, but we think you can come up with something better than that. So contact us by either Twitter, Facebook or comment on this blog by 27th May. The names chosen by our walled garden team will receive a family Season Ticket to Powderham which means you can come and visit them as many times as you like for the rest of the season. Good luck!!.

can you name our Golden Pheasants

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More tips from the top table… Royal Wedding Preparations

We are busy putting the finishing touches to our wedding cake which we will be serving to any visitors tomorrow after 1pm (don’t forget we will not be open until then)

We will be enjoying the pomp and ceremony and rasing a glass of something sparkly as Catherine and William become man and wife and turn the page on another chapter of Royal History.

How are your preparations going for tomorrow’s Royal Wedding? Do you need any help from our fantastic community of wedding and event planners? Join us here and add your questions and share your ideas.

If you are working tomorrow we hope you have fun, if you are sharing the ‘free’ day with friends and family enjoy the day. You may not feel it now but in 20 years time you will remember what you did so make it count…..

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Diary of a Castle Tour Guide . . . Here we go . . .

Difficult to believe it is only a month since I last put pen to paper (or finger to keyboard, to be more precise) as so much seems to have happened – although the name badges for new staff have still not arrived so I remain the Guide with no name! Can’t pretend it has been non-stop sunshine (literally as well as figuratively) but far more bright days than dull ones and the people here are all so friendly. Whilst the daffodils may now be fading, the Wisteria on the Castle walls and the occupants of the Rose Garden are eagerly waiting to burst forth. A lesson in life here, methinks!
Our initial pre-season get together day was a mixture of formalities and fun. We were shown all the fire escapes from the castle (of which there are many, so my advice if an alarm should be heard whilst on a tour don’t just leg it – wait to see which way the Guide runs and follow them) and got to let off various types of fire extinguisher. We had a fascinating demonstration of how Rococo sculptures are created by a guy who repairs them and I can now see how it took nine man-years to create the ones in the Stairway Hall in the Castle. Finally it was time for tea with Lord & and Lady Devon. I strolled into one of the private rooms to find a table laden with cakes & and sarnies and was greeted with a cup of tea and waited for the grand entrance. Simon (Estate Manager chappie) came over and said, Dave, have you met Lord & and Lady Devon – introducing me to the couple who were pouring the tea and who I had taken to be helpers from the kitchen – great start! I actually had a long chat with them and they are both extremely friendly and really interested in the people who work for them (I don’t think either of them read the Blog, so I’m not just saying this to keep in their good books!).
So the opening day of the new season arrives and I am due to be shadowing the experienced guides for a couple of weeks, before I will be allowed to start contributing to the tours, which is very sensible, as there is so much to learn. One of the guys I was with on the first day said he believed it would be easy to talk for 3 hours about the castle, as opposed to the 1 hour each tour is scheduled to last. I thought at the time he was exaggerating but within a few days realised this would be perfectly possible. So I have been frantically making copious notes and studying the various sources of information available, thinking all the time this must be similar to the trainee London taxi drivers working to gain ‘The Knowledge’.
Day one was also when I got to see Jonty Depp in action for the first time as he formally opened the Castle. I had met him briefly before he went into action as the Mad Hatter and he is a really nice chap (and, yes, he does read the Blog, so I would say that, wouldn’t I), as is his lovely assistant, the Queen of Hearts, which I think is why they interact so well with the kids – I think the little ones are good at spotting natural talent. Subsequently they have been presenting the Chocolate Factory Fortnight, which appears to be very popular, although I seem to have missed out on sampling the wares, so far (subtle hint!).
As mentioned previously, being a Tour Guide isn’t all glamour as I confirmed very early in my new career. As well as running tours we get allocated other duties, such as manning the ‘Welcome Hut’, in which we spend half a day at a time selling tickets and ice creams, doing litter picking, providing cover for the Gift Shop and Tea Rooms, as required and opening up the various rooms visited on the Castle tours at the start of each day and secure them again at the end. Oh yes, nearly forgot the really exciting bit – we also get to raise and lower the flag! Great fun until you discover that you have to climb a 30 foot iron ladder up the side of the top section of the main tower to get to the flag pole – not one for the faint hearted, I can assure you, but fabulous views!
I also got to join the ‘Deer Park Safari’ on the afternoon of our opening day which to be honest I had thought might be a tad dull, but turned out to be great fun. It is a 40 minute tour in a tractor-pulled trailer in which we got to see the deer up really close, different aspects of the Castle and grounds, terrific views the Exe Estuary (you can see Topsham in one direction and where the river joins the sea at Exmouth in the other) and Belvedere Tower, which was specifically built to take advantage of the views. As a bonus, I got to meet the lovely Emma, who runs the Powderham Blog site as well as interacting on Twitter and Facebook, who was visiting that day and went on the same safari trip, with her 2 boys. By-the-way, please don’t tell Ollie (see previous blog by him) but when the Mad Hatter knocked on the Castle doors, they didn’t actually open by magic – it was me!
Last week I came out of the Gift shop, early one morning and bumped into Lord Devon, getting into his car. Having not really thought through such an encounter, I was initially dumbstruck, not knowing whether to bow, tug my forelock or what the correct form of address might be. I eventually managed a rather week “Hiya!” to which he kindly responded with “Hello, there”, much to my relief.
So we are now a couple of weeks into the new season. As a part-timer, I have now completed 5 days and shadowed 5 castle tours – (one I joined part way through, having been asked to help out on the ticket desk for a busy half hour period). After another couple of days, I expect to be working with another guide, probably doing the chat for just a couple of rooms, before ultimately being allowed to run my own sessions. Whilst there is still plenty to learn, I am feeling more confident already, so – bring it on!
Latest News – When I was leaving last week, Peter, the head guide, asked if I was up for working occasionally in the Victorian Kitchen, which has recently been renovated and used for school visits and is now to become an additional part of the Castle experience. He did explain that this would require dressing up for the part, which I said I was game for. However, it was only as I wended my weary way home that the penny dropped – all the pictures I have seen of the kids in the kitchen show them accompanied by a lady dressed as a Victorian cook! Well I’m not shaving the beard off and that’s final!

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