Following on from Powis Castle Part One: The Castle, part two discusses our exploration of the gardens and exterior of Powis Castle.
I tried to find as much as I could about the Powis Gardens, but the internet let me down somewhat, forcing me to resort to buying a book on the Powis Castle Gardens, in order to finish the blog post.
The Walk to and from Powis Castle
As I said in Part One, Kate and I parked in Welshpool Town Centre, after “sat nav lady” as I like to call ‘her’, directed us to the Welshpool entrance to the castle, resulting in some minor damage to Kate’s car when trying to park in the little side road.
After safely parking on a long stay car park, we walked back to the Welshpool entrance, passing a number of shops decorated patriotically with Union Flags for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and London Olympics.
Walking through the gate, past some modern but nonetheless beautiful houses overlooking the Powis Castle estate, we walked past this gem:
Powis Castle Lodge is a Grade II listed building dating back to 1932, which surprises me a little, it looks older. The Powis coat of arms can be seen above the entranceway. After deciding that I would like to live in Powis Castle Lodge whereas Kate would rather live in the modern house adjacent to the Powis Castle gate, we carried on through the estate.
Walking on through the Powis Castle Estate, the castle soon became visible through the trees. Also visible, is the Llyn-Du Pool from which Welshpool may have gotten its name from.
On the way back to Welshpool town centre after walking around the castle and gardens, passing deer and noisy teenagers, I saw in the distance towers akin to something out of a Disney movie. Deciding against walking up the incline to investigate further (it was about to rain quite heavily), I looked it up on google maps. Christ Church is a Norman style church completed in 1844 and after struggling financially since it’s construction, the church closed in 1998 due to dwindling congregations and increasing costs. In 2003, Christ Church was bought by a family who have since been restoring the building with the aim of turning part of the church into a house and the rest of the building into a concert and exhibition venue. A link to the family’s blog can be found at the bottom of this blog post.
The Powis Castle gardens were improved a number of times throughout the castle’s history. The gardens in their current form consist of the Great Lawn, the Formal Gardens and the Wilderness. On entering the gardens, there are three possible paths, one leading to the Terraces, one leading to the Great Lawn and the other leading through the Wilderness. We walked through the Wilderness though for those who have an aversion to walking up steps, the Terraces would be a good start, walking down from them rather than up to them.
The Great Lawn
The Great Lawn is well, a great big lawn, with what Kate described as a crop circle etched into the grass.
Originally, what is now the Great Lawn made up the eighteenth century dutch-style Water Garden.
The fountain that the statue of Fame was originally the centrepiece of, would have located in the water garden.
Walking along the garden path from the Great Lawn, you will see the entrance to the Formal Gardens.
The Formal Gardens
The formal gardens were once the bowling green then later the kitchen garden. Following a storm in 1912, large elm trees which hid what is now the formal garden were blown down. Violet, Countess of Powis, wife of the 4th Earl of Powis, who made many improvements to the grounds at Powis Castle, was determined to turn the area into an ornamental garden.
Just off the formal gardens are a number of buildings, including a semi-detached Elizabethan cottage.
The cottage to the left, named “The Bothy” is a National Trust owned self catering cottage available for rent throughout the year. I for one, did not know the National Trust owned and rented out holiday cottages, it is definitely something I would be interested in doing in the future (think of the blog post “A night in…”).
To the right of the Elizabethan cottages is another building that in part houses the Powis Castle Estate Office and in front, the Croquet Lawn.
In front of the Formal Garden and Croquet Lawn is the Fountain Garden, an addition to the gardens made in the 1910’s by the Countess.
The Fountain Garden faces the driveway to Powis Castle, and is fenced off with a wrought iron gate gifted to the Earl by Violet. The gate is a replica of an eighteenth century gate at the family’s London home; Powis House, which had been demolished later that century.
Having explored the formal gardens, the time came to traverse the numerous steps up to the terraces.
The Terraces at Powis Castle are said to be the finest surviving example of a seventeenth century terrace garden in Britain. The exact date of their construction is unknown but thought to have begun in the 1680s, shortly before the 1st Marquess went into exile with King James II following the Glorious Revolution of 1688 after which the estate was granted to the Earl of Rochford by William of Orange.
The terraces and balustrades fell into disrepair during the latter half of the eighteenth century, before being brought back into a state of repair by Lord Clive, the brother-in-law to the 2nd Earl and son of Clive of India.
There are three main terraces at Powis Castle; The Top Terrace, The Aviary Terrace and The Orangery Terrace. As Kate and I walked up from the Formal Gardens, I will start with The Orangery Terrace, which is the first terrace you come to walking from that direction.
The Orangery Terrace is named after the orangery, built to overwinter citrus fruits. It is a cool room, housing a number of potted plants. On either side of the orangery, there is a pathway lined with an abundance of colourful plants.
The second terrace, moving upwards towards the castle is The Aviary Terrace.
The Aviary Terrace once had fruit and vegetables growing on it until it was decided that they should have a Mediterranean theme with grass banks. Above the orangery is a pathway with a balustrade adorned with statues of shepherds and shepherdesses.
Moving upwards again and you will come to The Top Terrace, offering a marvellous view of both the Powis Castle gardens and the Welsh countryside.
Above The Top Terrace, is the yew topiary, which is a famous feature of Powis Castle Gardens. The fourteen yew trees named “the tumps” were planted in the 1720’s by the 2nd Marquess. Below the tumps are a series of niches in the centre of the Terrace wall. These would have been for the display of busts, but now display potted plants, a combination of which change yearly.
After completing our exploration of the gardens, as the dark clouds descended over Welshpool, we left the gardens to walk around the castle, which I discussed in Part One.
The Statue of Fame, located in the castle courtyard features Fame atop of the winged horse Pegasus. The statue, which dates back to c.1705 was originally the centrepiece of a fountain which was dismantled in 1809.
Apologies for the delay in publishing Part Two, I had to wait for the Powis Castle Garden book to arrive before I could finish the sections on the Formal Gardens and Terraces. Next week I will be seeing Pride and Prejudice being performed at the Crescent Theatre in Birmingham, so will probably be writing about that in my next blog post. Below are a few website links that may be of interest to some of you.
I’d like to finish by thanking the National Trust and Powis Castle for a lovely day, and especially for sharing my last blog post on Twitter and Facebook.
- Official Website: http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/powis-castle/
- Castle Wales Website: http://www.castlewales.com/powis.html
- National Trust Cottages: http://www.nationaltrustcottages.co.uk/
- Christ Church Website Blog: http://christchurchwelshpool.blogspot.co.uk/