Powis Castle. A jewel among the rolling hills of mid-Wales just south of Welshpool, on the border with the English county of Shropshire, some 80 miles by road from my home in Bromsgrove.
The original fortress was built around 1200, but over several hundred years it was extensively rebuilt and remodelled, reaching its zenith in the late 17th century under the Stuarts and into the 18th century. While many castles in Wales were built by the Normans post conquest to keep the Welsh under control, Powis Castle was built and retained by a local family, the Herberts, who accumulated power and were given titles under various monarchs, especially the Stuart monarchs Charles II and James II.
The Herberts fought on the Royalist side in the English Civil War, and the castle was eventually occupied by Cromwell’s Parliamentary forces. The Herberts were Catholic, and the then Lord Powis went into exile with James II in 1689, although his lands and estate were returned in about 1725.
Built on a craggy rock, the castle and gardens owe much to 17th century investment, with formal gardens laid out on a series of very steep terraces cascading down from the house to a large lawn and formal garden that was once a vegetable and fruit garden.
All around are quite large, sculptured yew trees that were planted in the 1680s. Originally they were allowed to grow ‘naturally’ but in the 19th century the change in horticultural taste was for a more formal look.
The terraces are full of colour, and the garden staff have taken great care to label many of the plants.
In the 18th century, one of the Herbert daughters married the son of Clive of India, and the castle houses a large collection of Clive memorabilia. While the National Trust owns and manages the buildings and gardens, it does not own many of the furnishings. As a consequence photography is not permitted inside the castle, so the only photos I have to show are external views of the castle and round the gardens.
The weather was fantastic, and we thoroughly enjoyed our visit to Powis.