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Powderham Castle

Powderham Castle

A Day Out Discovering Powderham Castle in Devon

Rising majestically above the River Exe just outside Exeter, 600-year-old Powderham Castle provides a glimpse into seven centuries of fascinating aristocratic family history. Visitors can explore its exquisite reception rooms, extensive grounds and the deer park, making for an engaging day out discovering stories of those who have called this stately home their home across the generations.

From admiring elegant architecture and ornate plasterwork to learning about the castle’s varied past, Powderham Castle promises a treasured window into Devon’s heritage. Here’s an in-depth guide on how to make the most of a visit to this historic home.

powderham castle dining room

Getting There

Powderham Castle enjoys a waterside setting on the outskirts of Kenton village, about 8 miles south of Exeter city centre. It sits directly off the A379 road linking Exeter with Dawlish.

By Car

Driving to Powderham Castle only takes 15 minutes from Exeter. The castle has a dedicated entrance and parking just off the A379. Postcode for satnavs is EX6 8JQ.

By Bus

Frequent bus service 2 runs direct from Exeter bus station to Powderham, dropping visitors right at the entrance gates. The journey takes around 25 minutes each way.

Opening Times and Prices

Powderham Castle is open daily from April to October:

  • 11am – 3pm (House)
  • 10am – 5:30pm (Grounds)

It offers some weekend openings in the winter or events may be on. Check the website calendar before travelling as opening times vary seasonally.

Entry prices are:

  • Adults £14.95
  • Over 65s/Students £13.95
  • Children £10.95
  • Under 5s Free
  • Family £39.95

The Home Through History

A visit to Powderham Castle begins with a fascinating guided tour through rooms filled with furniture, artwork and artefacts chronicling the castle’s varied past:

  • Medieval hall – Once a banquet setting, this section dates from Powderham’s 14th century origins.
  • Georgian & Victorian wings – Added as fashions and family demands grew through the centuries.
  • Library – Housing over 10,000 historic volumes.
  • Tapestry bedroom – Intricate 17th century wall hangings gifted by a French Duke.
  • Dining room – Evening venue for lavish family meals and parties.

Costumed guides really bring the stories of those who lived at Powderham to life across the eras.

The story of Powderham Castle begins in the 14th century when Sir Philip Courtenay received the land as a gift from his cousin, Edward III. The castle itself was constructed over the centuries, with various architectural styles incorporated, including medieval, Tudor, and Victorian elements. The castle’s imposing structure and picturesque setting made it an iconic landmark in the region.

powderham castle

The Courtenay family has held the estate for generations, with their enduring presence shaping the castle’s history. Powderham Castle has witnessed significant events throughout the years, from the tumultuous periods of the English Civil War to the more tranquil Victorian era.

One of the castle’s most famous moments came in the 19th century when it was extensively renovated by the renowned architect Sir Charles Barry, who also designed the Palace of Westminster in London. These renovations transformed Powderham into a stunning example of Gothic Revival architecture, featuring impressive turrets, battlements, and intricate details.

Today, Powderham Castle continues to be the private residence of the Courtenay family, who open its doors to the public, allowing visitors to explore its history, art, and magnificent surroundings. The castle also hosts a variety of events, including concerts, weddings, and cultural exhibitions, making it a vibrant and thriving testament to the enduring heritage of one of England’s most prestigious and picturesque estates.

The Grounds and Deer Park

The extensive castle grounds allow you to take in the idyllic setting alongside scenic walks:

  • Formal gardens – Designed in the 1830s by Victorian horticulturist William Lobb.
  • Woodland trails – Follow winding paths through tranquil woods.
  • Belvedere tower – Climb steps for panoramic views over the Exe estuary.
  • Deer park – Home to a herd of 350 wild fallow deer to spot.
  • Coach house cafe – Serving hot dishes and cream teas overlooking the grounds.

The grounds make the perfect spot for a relaxed stroll or picnic while soaking up Powderham’s heritage.

deer at powderham castle

Family Activities

Powderham adds extra fun for younger visitors too:

  • Kids’ discovery trails – Special activity packs for budding historians.
  • Pony rides – Meet the resident ponies and enjoy short rides.
  • Falconry displays – Outdoor shows with Powderham’s resident hawks and owls in flight.
  • Lakeside playpark – Multi-level wooden adventure playground.
  • Gift shop – With princess dresses, wooden swords and souvenirs galore.

From toddlers to teens, there’s plenty to spark kids’ imaginations and bring history to life.

powderham castle stam rally

Making a Day of It

Allow 1.5 – 2 hours to leisurely view the house interior and walk the grounds. Powderham Castle combines perfectly with a visit to Exeter’s historic quayside or a bike ride along the scenic Exe Estuary Trail.

With seven centuries of stories to explore, majestic architecture and scenic Exe views, Powderham Castle is a vivid window into Devon’s living heritage.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Powderham Castle and the grounds accessible for wheelchairs? – Generally, yes. The ground floor of the Castle is accessible to wheelchair users and electric scooters. The tractor/trailer has a ramp and the Walled Garden Play Area & Pets Corner is accessible too, although there are some steep slopes. Disabled parking is available and there are accessible toilets in the castle courtyard and welcome centre.

Can I take photographs in the castle? – Yes, they allow photographs, but not videos.

Are dogs allowed at Powderham Castle? – Yes, but they must be kept on a lead.

Is parking free at Powderham Castle? Yes, parking is included within the entry price.

Other nearby attractions to visit

  • Haldon Forest Park – Large woodland park with excellent mountain bike trails, Go Ape adventures, walking routes and lovely views from the treetop walkway.
  • Newton Abbot Museum – Local museum in a historic building detailing the town’s history, Victorian life and industries like lacemaking. Interactive displays.
  • Stover Country Park – Scenic nature reserve with woodlands, lakes and trails. Great spot to gently explore and see local wildlife, with a cafe onsite.
  • Topsham Museum – Museum set inside a Dutch merchant’s historic house, detailing Topsham’s international trading history as a major port. Period rooms to browse.
  • Crealy Adventure Park – Large family theme park near Exeter packed with over 60 rides and attractions including animals, rollercoasters and water fun.
  • Canonteign Falls – England’s highest waterfall within a lush wooded gorge. Viewing platforms provide scenic vantage points. Tea room nearby.
  • Exeter Cathedral – Impressive medieval cathedral boasting the longest uninterrupted ceiling in England. Guided tours included in entry.
  • World of Country Life – Indoor living recreation of a 19th century Devon village including costumed re-enactors demonstrating traditional crafts.
  • Escot Country Park – Diverse family attraction encompassing gardens, farm animals, adventure play areas including a maze, trails and seasonal events.

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