Powis Castle and Gardens

The Castle with the a Red Keep and Stunning Italianate Gardens

Powis Castle and Garden

Powis Castle is perched on a steep rocky ridge, surrounded by a Deer Park and terraced gardens. This old fortress has evolved over centuries into a luxurious family home. Continual updating and remodelling have spared the place from being a romantic ruin, like so many others. The red stone is striking against the green hills. The castle is majestic, standing proudly over beautiful terraced Italianate gardens. Giant yew trees billow like clouds down to the lawns below, gentle wisteria feathering across the stonework. 

Powis was the family home of Edward Clive, whose father conquered much of India. Precious artefacts from the region are found in the Clive Museum, which throws some light onto Britain’s time as an Imperial superpower. 

The interiors are of great interest, although the gardens command tremendous respect. People travel from around the globe to see the clinging Yew trees and elegant terraces bursting with colour. Wales is a cooler part of Britain, but Powis sits in a sheltered microclimate enabling the growth of many plants. We recommend an afternoon at Powis Castle before heading north to Snowdonia National Park and the historic town of Conwy.

A princely property with splendid gardens

A brief history of Powis Castle

The paradise of Wales
In the middle ages, Powis was known for its unusual microclimate and fertile soil. A place with agricultural and strategic value, the Castle overlooks the River Seven valley from a rocky outcrop. Unfortunately, enemies surrounded the Princes' of Powis, the Welsh Kingdom of Gwynedd to the North and the English to the East. Those early days the prince of Southern Wales sided with the English, and prosperous trading links began creating jobs in the nearby town of Welshpool. 

The prince Owain Cyfeiliog may have built the original Castle using local Red Gritstone, the name in Welsh is ‘Y Castell Coch’ translated means The Red Castle.

Powis Castle came under siege by the Welsh warrior Prince Llywelyn ap Gruffudd in 1274. The  badly castle damaged was repaired and upgraded. Later in history, again the castle is under siege, this time it is the Civil War. William Herbert 1st Lord Powis sided with King Charles 1st throughout the war. The English Civil War is somewhat complicated, but you either supported the King or Parliament, being either Protestant or Catholic was another factor to consider.

The Parliamentary attack shattered the gates into pieces with debris flying in all directions. Troops charged the inner bailey, stormed the inner gates and took control of the entire fortress. It must have been quite a scene. Learn more about the castles defences with your driver-guide. 

Clive of India
In the early 1800s, Powis became the family home of the Clive family. Robert ‘Clive’ of India amassed a vast volume of valuable artefacts while conquering India; this action took place while employed by the notorious East India Company. His son Edward Clive married Henrietta Herbert, the Earl of Powis’s daughter. Edward inherited those Indian spoils of war and Powis castle to display the treasure. See rare Roman sculptures, an authentic Indian finial of a bejewelled tigers head. See a portrait of a local hero ‘Old Parr’, a farmer who supposedly lived to 152 years of age.

The famous gardens
Conceived in the 1680s for the 1st Marquess of Powis, the Baroque gardens are rare to have survived intact. Captain William Winde (godson of the 1st Marquess) designed the brilliantly structured terrace. His knowledge of military engineering and explosives meant that he would have known how to blast the rock face into staggered terraces. He may have built a similar multi-level garden at Cliveden House, a beautiful hotel near Heathrow that we recommend. The style of garden originated in Italy, became popular in France and then Britain. 

By the 20th century, the garden was in a sorry state after years of neglect. Violet, Countess of Powis, embarked on a period of investment. She revived the old design and enhanced with clipped Yews, marble seats and herbaceous borders. Her additional feature is the Edwardian style garden of finely cut hedging and roses. 

The National Trust
The National Trust takes care of over 500 historic houses, including Powis Castle. It is one of the world’s most extensive heritage and environmental organisations. In 1952 Powis Castle was bequeathed to the National Trust. The 8th Earl of Powis still lives on the estate. 

Touring and accommodation 
Before arriving at Powis, we recommend stops at Ludlow, a beautifully preserved historical town or the famous village of books, Hay-on-Wye. The famous Hay Festival is one of the worlds great gatherings of authors and book buyers - this annual event takes place at the end of May, for 12 days. Stokesay Castle is an unusual fortified manor house and is worth a stop before heading into North Wales. 

Powis Castle is for many off-the-beaten-track, but, should be included in an itinerary for people that love gardens. It is also the joy of touring a historic place that is lesser-known and feels like a personal discovery. Please see our Private Tours of Wales pages; we can customise any of our suggested itineraries to meet your requirements. 

Stay in a cottage on the grounds of Powis Castle - the house has four bedrooms, a cosy fireplace and all modern amenities. Please ask us for further details. Pale Hall Hotel is a meticulously restored grand home on the edge of Snowdonia National Park. It has an acclaimed restaurant and luxurious rooms. It also has family accommodation on the grounds.

Interiors of Treasure and Gardens of Wonder

The Red Castle Surrounded by Lush Green Hills

  • World Famous Gardens
  • Clive Museum of Indian Treasures
  • National Trust Property
  • VIP Tours Available
  • Opportunity to Stay on the Castle Grounds

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