Welcome to Powderham Castle.

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.

Fallow deer

Fallow deer

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.

Rose garden

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!!

Rose garden

There were lots of nice roses, but no labels so no names to tell you I’m afraid.

Yew topiary

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!



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18 Responses to Welcome to Powderham Castle.

  1. Christina says:

    I am now finding it hard to believe that it has rained so continuously since I was in London for the Chelsea flower show! I would certainly like to have some of your rain, we are now in the summer drought with no likelyhood of any rain until September. This makes it all the more strange that we can grow some of the same plants. Christina

    • Pauline says:

      The last 2 weeks in May Christina, was the last time we had any decent weather, from then it has just gone downhill, don’t think it can get any worse! We might have some of the same plants, but will they survive, have they learnt to swim, only time will tell!!

  2. debsgarden says:

    We need some of your rain! I will happily send some heat in exchange. The deer park and its setting is so charming! The castle is fascinating; imagine the same family living there for 600 years! Each generation must know a lot about the ancestors. We Americans are generally so mixed up, a lot of us don’t know where our grandparents came from!

    • Pauline says:

      Yes please Deb, will swap our rain for some of your heat willingly! I think a lot of us here in England are a mixture too, just a few families that can trace their families back so far. The castle was fascinating on the inside too, each generation adding their own little bit. The bit that amused me the most was a narrow spiral staircase that had to be made into a wide sweeping staircase to accomodate the fashion for crinoline dresses in the late 1800’s!!

  3. Anna says:

    No doubt there is much fascinating history there Pauline. I’m never sure about labels in gardens although sometimes I have wished that they were there 🙂 I keep hoping that we have seen the worst of the rains – so much heartbreak for people. You must have been relieved to get home safely.

    • Pauline says:

      I don’t personally like labels in gardens Anna, but bloggers seem to like the correct name to be given! We were certainly relieved to get home out of the storm, the next day the River Otter had gone back to where it should be, but the mess, oh dear, that will take a lot longer to clear up.

  4. alberto says:

    Pauline, every time you post about one of your trips I feel like getting ready to leave for UK. I’ve made it quite often in the past, since I was 20 I lived in Brighton for a few years and then always got back as soon as I could. Now my last trip was 4-5 years ago, I don’t even remember, I need to finish this house restoration and get a proper holiday to England! Did you know that when I was 16 I applied to spend a whole summer working for the National Trust in Devon? At the end my mum didn’t allow me to leave and I had to wait until my 20 to get going. I guess my life could have been entirely different if I went there at 16, maybe I could be a garden designer by now. Sigh.
    Sorry for these musings, you just touched some old sweet memories of mine…
    I’m going to ask you for some advice next time I’m coming to England about places to visit, hu?

    • Pauline says:

      No wonder your English is so good Alberto, I hadn’t realised that you lived here for a few years. Amazing that you could have worked for the National Trust, stange the way life turns out isn’t it? Glad I was able to bring back some happy memories, I will be more than happy to suggest places to visit when you next come over !

  5. catmint says:

    Hi Pauline, hope it stops raining over there soon. That castle is so beautiful and romantic. I don’t think it needs a garden, I just love the greenery and the deer. That concert in the castle grounds sounds quite a magical memory. cheers, catmint

    • Pauline says:

      Shh Catmint, the sun has been shining for a couple of hours but it is back to rain tomorrow!! The concert was absolutely amazing, thank goodness it wasn’t raining then!

  6. wellywoman says:

    Pauline, I’ve spent quite a bit of time in Devon but I’ve yet to visit Powderham Castle. It looks lovely. I’m trying to keep cheerful despite the rain but a visit to the plot today and the sight of so many of my late season cut flowers rotting is just depressing. I was planning to enter my local county show but I doubt I’ll have any flowers to cut.

    • Pauline says:

      I was positive until the floods last weekend WW, now everything in the garden is battered and looks such a mess, major cutbacks needed I think. We have a bit of sunshine now but it will be back to rain tomorrow. Was hoping to cut flowers for church this weekend, my turn on the rota, but like you, I don’t think anything will be good enough.

  7. Pauline, You must have all the rain we are missing. We are desperate over here! I can’t remember a drier summer.
    I have been to England many times, but sadly have never visited one of the many castles. How interesting that the river was once so close to the castle walls. The roses and the fallow deer are nice additions to the other attractions. The night you attended to firework display must have been quite something!

    • Pauline says:

      We love visiting our castles Jennifer, such a sense of history in all the stones and fascinating to hear about the families that lived there long ago. The concert was an amazing experience and the fireworks definitely never to be forgotten! We all seem to be experiencing extremes of weather, hope it gets back to normal soon for all of us.

  8. Great pictures thanks for sharing. Fallow deers are amongst my favourite animals and couple that with the Devon countryside and you’re definitely on to a winner in my opinion…looks fabulous!

  9. stone says:

    Those fallow deer look delicious! Let me get my cooking pot…
    Are those some of the historic king’s deer, the ones that it was worth your life for a starving peasant to hunt?
    I found a link for you… left it on my monarch post, regarding monarch butterfly migrations in England.

    • Pauline says:

      Stone, have to admit, I am partial to a bit of venison myself! Yes, these are the descendants of the ones that were poached hundreds of years ago,you had to have the king’s permission in olden times, before you could own a herd of deer. A few are still poached today but the thieves don’t get killed or sent to Australia any more!!
      Thanks for the Monarch link, will go there now.

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