Sunday, 22 April 2018

Castell Powis

A medieval Welsh castle sitting high above garden terraces created in an Italianate style could be considered strange bedfellows, but together they produce a scene of perfect harmony.
As we made our way up the long driveway, the sun was just minutes away from breaking through the early morning mist.  
The castle was begun in 1283 by a Welsh Prince, Gruffydd ap Gwenwynwyn. He was given permission to built the fortress for his loyalty to Edward l during the Welsh Wars which ended in 1282.



Three hundred years later in 1587 the Herbert family purchased the castle and then spent more than 400 years transforming it into the comfortable home seen today. There are no images allowed inside, but it is furnished sumptuously with fabrics and exquisite works of art from around the world reflecting the Elizabethan to the Edwardian periods. It houses the largest private collection of Indian treasures accumulated by:-
The centre piece of the collection is an exquisite gold bejewelled tiger's head finial from the throne of Tipu, Sultan of Mysore, set with diamonds, rubies, emeralds, and saphires. 
courtesy Wiki
"I would rather live two days like a tiger than 200 years like a  sheep" - Tipu, Sultan of Mysore
In 1784, Lord Powis’s daughter, Lady Henrietta Herbert, married Edward Clive,  the eldest son of Clive of India. Their marriage led to the union of the Clive and Powis estates. 












'No Percy, not that way'.....'The hens are behind you, they're hiding in the bushes'!!! 

Lysichiton americanus - yellow skunk cabbage - I tried to grow this years ago, but our pond has paved edges and is far too dry.

A male pheasant dressed in his finest Spring colours.












The southern side of Castell Powis showing the Italianate terraces.

 Clematis armandii 'Apple Blossom'
As we returned back to our hotel along the narrow, twisty, country roads, we suddenly realised that we were travelling through the tiny hamlet of Tregynon, a place known to us from many years ago. We couldn't resist the opportunity to visit a property we used to know well called Gregynog Hall, a place where we have stayed many times. We decided to visit it for old times sake, and see whether it still looked just as we remembered it. The hall was left to the University of Wales in 1960 along with some of its treasures by Gwendoline and Margaret Davis, the granddaughters, of David Davis, who made a huge fortune during the industrialisation of Victorian Wales. 
Over the past 50+ years it served as a Welsh cultural resource within the University. However, recently, and with institutional changes within the current setup of the University of Wales, we can only assume that it had become an increasing financial burden, and as a result it has now been made into an independent charitable trust. 
The maiden sisters, Gwendoline and Margaret, bought the hall in 1920, and it may surprise you to learn that it is not a Tudor building but one of the earliest large-scale domestic British buildings made from concrete over 175 years ago. If you are interested to know more about the sisters and their wonderful treasures, which are now housed in the 'Davis Sisters Collection' at the National Museum of Wales, Cardiff, there is a further post that I wrote here several years ago.

41 comments:

  1. What a grand and very elegant castle Rosemary. The Italianate terraces and the blue gate are very appealing. I am fascinated by the row of sculptural trees above the terraces too - are they clipped to look like that? The Gregynog hall looks stunning, and it is always pleasing to see the Tudor style carried on through the years.

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    1. The giant Yews were planted in 1680 Patricia - it takes one fulltime gardener about three continuous months to clip. He has to go up in a giant 'cherry picker' in order to be able to reach the top.

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  2. Hello Rosemary, When I saw the title of this article, I at first thought of the literary Powyses, but it is apparently named for its location. Out of curiosity, I looked up the tiger's head finial (what a treat to see it in person!), and found this article with photos, auction history and the story of the regrettable breakup of the fabulous throne it came from:
    http://www.alaintruong.com/archives/2010/10/01/19216359.html

    --Jim

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    1. Hello Jim - and thank you very much for that information. Apparently the one you introduced me to sold for £434,000. Altogether there were 8 bejewelled tigers heads around the throne, which were all slightly different in design. There was one large head which is owned by the Queen which has an articulated tongue, and is set with rock crystal eyes and teeth. If interested you can be seen here:-
      https://www.royalcollection.org.uk/collection/67212/tigers-head

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    2. Thanks in return for the further link. That throne must have been quite a creation. I actually like the finial tiger heads like the one at Powis better than the main one! --Jim

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    3. The Indian craftsmanship is exquisite.

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  3. Excellent photos of a very impressive property. I always find this kind of place rather overwhelming and come away with the feeling that I haven't quite grasped its scale and would need several visits to appreciate it fully.

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    1. Thank you for your comment John - I agree with you, and was quite pleased that no images were allowed inside as it would have caused me further problems trying to decide just what to show and what to leave out.

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  4. Lifestyles of the rich, famous and powerful!

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    1. It has always been the case and I expect always will be.

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  5. An impressive castle, and beautiful grounds!

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    1. I find it is a magical place, set in a beautiful landscape too.

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  6. Really enjoyed that post. Great diversity. Like the blue gates.

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    1. This was a return visit but with over a 20 year gap - I enjoyed it as much as I did on the first trip.

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  7. That is a beautiful old building, the gardens are lovely and it's a pleasure to see such places are well looked after - it's history.

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    1. I wonder just what that first Welsh prince would think if he could see his fortress now!

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  8. Spectacular richness and variety of plants , beautiful and wellkept castle .

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    1. It is a lovely place for a visit.

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  9. I like the first image which made me look forward to what is happening. Early morning mist seems to guarantee the sunny daytime as it is so here. Right? The blue gate, Italianate terraces, huge yew trees of the Castell Powis and Gregynog Hall, all are so impressive. Thanks for this photo tour, Rosemary.

    Yoko

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    1. Dear Yoko, I am so pleased that you enjoyed the photo tour of Castell Powis. Whilst we were driving there we kept coming in and out of early morning mists, and could tell that blue skies lay ahead of us.

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  10. WOW! It was nice to go around the place with you. Thanks for sharing it with us. Looks amazing:)

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    1. It is a glorious place to visit - filled with interest and a beautiful garden in which to wander.

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  11. I always think...well this is her best shot...only to change my mind over and over again. These are amazing Rosemary!

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    1. That is an extremely generous comment Janey - thank you and it is much appreciated. I am just going off now to make myself a cup of tea and a toasted crumpet to celebrate what you have just said♡

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  12. Dearest Rosemary,
    That would make for a perfect walk back in time and into beautiful nature. The Sultan's Palace in Mysore, India we have visited... We worked for many years as consultants for Pond's India. It is always great to see how history has had an impact on architecture and culture interwoven with each other over the ages.
    Hugs,
    Mariette

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    1. Lucky you Mariette - although I have visited several areas of India I have not been to Mysore. I saw a programme about the palace a few weeks ago, and within the last few years it has been illuminated everynight with nearly a 100,000 light bulbs which has become a major attraction to both locals and visitors alike.

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  13. How wonderful a castle, actually it's like a fairy castle. The park is wonderful and all details awesome.
    The houses in the last photo is like German houses.
    Your photos are, as usually, wonderful.

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    1. It is a place that I have visited only twice, but each time it has been enjoyed. Thank you for your kind comment Orvokki.

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  14. What a beautiful blending of cultures and styles. The shot with the ironwork gate taken from above is gorgeous. This would be a magnificent place to visit.

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    1. If ever you return to Wales again, it is definitely somewhere that you should not miss.

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  15. The first photo already promises a great place. The castle is magnificent, and the park enchanted me with plants and birds. Regards. (Pepa goes on holiday with us).

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    1. Have a great trip Giga - I know that Pepa will enjoy being with you too.

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  16. Dear Rosemary,
    you always seem to visit all those amazing places! There seem to be so many worth visiting castles and gardens in Great Britain and when seeing them on your blog I´d always love to visit them myself. I booked a garden vacation to England for June and I can´t wait to visit beautiful English gardens and castles again. I am always amazed by how skillfully plants are grown against the walls of a garden or building, such as this magnolia grandiflora? in the second picture. The clematis looks lovely. I too planted a clematis armandii last year and it grew well and seemed fine till about March. All winter it was rather mild and than suddenly we had some very cold spells in March and the clematis seems to have died. I knew that clematis armandii is not as hardy as other varieties, but because of it´s lovely evergreen foliage I thought I´d give it a try. Without success as it seems.
    Have a lovely week!
    Best wishes,
    Lisa

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    1. Dear Lisa - I hope that your trip lives up to your expectations, I know that you enjoyed the one last year. I belong to the National Trust, and their handbook is filled with so many houses, castles, and gardens, that it would be impossible to visit them all even given a whole life time.
      Don't give up on your Armandii just yet. I have two in my garden, and we have just had a very hard winter, but they are very much alive. Keep an eye on it as it may still have sprout some shoots for you - fingers crossed.

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    2. Dear Rosemary,
      thanks a lot! I am also a National Trust member. Started my membership last year when I was on the garden vacation. I love looking through their handbook and would love to visit so many places. However, I don´t have a driver´s license and as many of the places are situated in the countryside it seems rather difficult for me to access them unless I travel with a group as I did last year. I find it amazing that an organization like the National Trust exists. Unfortunately we don´t have something similar in Austria. The entry fees for gardens are also much more expensive here in Austria. There are no combo tickets or memberships for several gardens, but you have to pay separately for every garden you visit. I had an annual ticket for the Palmenhaus in Schönbrunn and its 30 euros. With the National Trust you have the opportunity to visit so many places for a more than fair price I think. What I also love about the National Trust is that sustainability seems to matter a lot to them. I like how you find some untouched areas in their gardens such as wild meadows for pollinators. Such areas can hardly be found in Austrian gardens which I find rather sad. I also love the way the National Trust places are decorated. Even at the bathrooms one gets surprised by some lovely bouquet of flowers and I am also a fan of their information black boards. I love to read the notes the gardeners leave on these boards.
      Reagrding the armandii clematis, the foliage has been green till about March. Then it suddenly turned all brown and looked wilted and dry. I cut it back to the ground and maybe you are right and it will sprout some new shoots. Would be nice. So far it hasn´t, but who knows.
      Have a lovely day!
      Best wishes,
      Lisa

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    3. It is good that you have membership of the NT. I expect you get a special membership rate living overseas. My husband and myself are retired so we get a 12 month subscription for a very reasonable price and also because we have been members for so many years. We only have to visit three places per year to make it worthwhile, which we always far exceed. Any membership taken out in England also gives entrance to Scottish NT properties too. We have another good organisation called English Heritage which is excellent too.
      Hope your Armandii survives. If it does not then I would still recommend that you give another plant a try. I suspect that your winters are no worse than ours, and I have had my two for over 20 years. Perhaps some fleece to cover it during the winter months until it gets established. Mine grow and grow like weeds and have to be seriously cut back every year.

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  17. Amazing place.
    Brilliant photographic report.
    Hugs
    Maria de
    Divagar Sobre Tudo um Pouco

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    1. Thank you Maria for your kind comment.

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  18. Dear Rosemary, You take us to the most beautiful and interesting places. And then you present us with an additional gift by sharing your fabulous photographs.

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    1. Dear Gina - thank you for your kind words - I think that you too would love this place in such a beautiful setting and filled with such wonderful treasures.

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