Powis Castle - History and Facts | History Hit

Powis Castle

Belan, Wales, United Kingdom

Powis Castle was built by Welsh princes in the early thirteenth century and has maintained much of its exterior grandeur.

Antara Bate

24 Nov 2020
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Powis Castle

Powis Castle was built by Welsh princes in the early thirteenth century and, whilst the interior has been refurbished several times, it has maintained much of its exterior grandeur.

Having been the stately home of the noble Herbert and Clive families, Powis Castle and its vast gardens are now open to the public. Within Powis Castle is the Clive Museum, which houses pieces from India.

Powis Castle history

Powis Castle was built around 12000 by the Welsh prince Gwenwynwyn ap Owain. The castle changed ownership several times over the following centuries. In 1587 Sir Edward Herbert, the son of the Earl of Pembroke and Ann Parr (sister to Catherine Parr), purchased the castle and estate. Generations of Herberts transformed Powis from a fortress into an elegant manor house.

The changes reflected the character of the family with each generation adding to the magnificent collection of paintings, sculptures, furniture and tapestries. The castle was occupied by Parliamentary forces in 1644 during the Civil War. After the restoration of the monarchy in 1660, the castle underwent extensive rebuilding and refurbishment.

In the 1680s the architect William Winde was employed by William Herbert, 1st Marques of Powis to landscape the garden. In 1688, the 1st Marques fled to France during the thirty-years-war, leaving the garden unfinished. His son, the 2nd Marques, returned to Britain in 1703 and continued the renovations, this time with the French gardener Adrian Duval.

In 1784, Henrietta Herbert married Edward Clive, son of Robert Clive, known as ‘Clive of India’. Edward Clive was appointed Governor of Madras in 1798, as his father had been before. The whole family lived in India for three years. Upon their return to Wales, the Clives took over the complete refurbishment of the gardens and estate, as well as establishing an extensive collection of artefacts from India and the Far East.

Queen Victoria visited the castle during her tour through England and Wales in 1832.

Powis Castle today

The castle has been under the care of the National Trust since 1952 and it was also used as a private home up until 1988. The castle is a major attraction in Wales and displays a large array of paintings, sculpture, furniture and tapestries. The collection of treasures from India within the Clive Museum includes textiles, armour, weapons, bronzes, silver pieces, jade, ivory and a formal tent, all amassed by the Clives in the 18th century.

Surviving from the 1660s, the State Bedroom is the only one in Britain where a balustrade still rails off the bed alcove from the rest of the room. The design reflects the desire of the English gentry to emulate the elaborate etiquette practised at the court of Louis XIV at Versailles.

Getting to Powis Castle

Powis Castle is a major National Trust tourist attraction and is well sign-posted. To travel by car from the A483 roundabout south of Welshpool, take the A458 to Welshpool and the driveway to Castle will be on the left. There is a dedicated car park on site. The site is a mile from Welshpool station.

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