Exeter Southernhay’s Rotary Club held their President’s Day this year at Powderham Castle, which is on the banks of the River Exe in Devon. Thank goodness the rain stayed away but it was still very cloudy with a bitterly cold wind, more like March than July. Before we had our lunch in the grounds we went for a Deerpark Safari, this way we were able to get really close to the fallow deer that live in the park.
We were in a carriage drawn by a tractor and the deer are accustomed to seeing it so weren’t bothered by us.
There are four colours of Fallow here in the park, black, dark brown, white and the common paler brown, all with the familiar spots.
This group seems to be all male, the females were busy with their young at the other side of the park and moved away when they heard the tractor coming.
There has been a herd of fallow deer here for centuries, and yes, they are culled to bring in an income for the castle. The venison is sold in the castle shop, to local restaurants and to restaurants in London.
The view of the castle from the deerpark, at one time this was the main entrance, in the centre, now you enter from the other side where there is a courtyard entrance. The castle is the home of the Earl and Countess of Devon where the Courtenay family have lived for 600 yrs. It was built in 1391 by Sir Philip Courtenay and later survived the Civil War in the 17th century. In the 18th and 19th centuries it was embellished and altered and the exterior transformed into the building that stands today. We sat in just about this spot one night, many years ago, at a concert given by the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, accompanied by the Medieval Babes. It was an amazing night, the castle making a wonderful backdrop, and that evening finished with the best firework display I have ever seen, timed to perfection while the orchestra played Beethoven’s 5th symphony – happy memories!
Blue sky, but still a bitterly cold wind! At one time apparently, the waters of the River Exe came right up to the castle walls. Originally the only way to arrive at the castle, 600 yrs ago, was by boat. Over the years the river was allowed to silt up and this forms part of the deerpark today.
Powderham is not known for its garden, but has a rose garden overlooking the lake and deerpark. The water in the distance with a tiny sailing boat is the River Exe. I wish some rose gardens contained other plants apart from roses, a few alchemilla mollis and nepeta would hide all those ugly bare legs!!
There were lots of nice roses, but no labels so no names to tell you I’m afraid.
Beautifully clipped Yew topiary making focal points amongst the roses. After our super lunch we then had a tour of the castle which was really interesting before going home to get warm!! In spite of the cold, it was a good day.
This was a couple of weeks ago now, since then, the weather has deteriorated even further. Last Saturday we had 5 inches of rain, everywhere is flooded again, the next town Ottery St. Mary, was flooded when all the water poured off the surrounding hills and the River Otter broke its banks. All the roads in the town were like rivers, we just managed to get through to a function we were going to, and more importantly, were able to get home again at the end of the day. Expensive flood defenses were built after the last floods a few years ago, but people have still been flooded out of their houses once more, its them I feel most sorry for. Surely the rain will stop soon…please!