I received an email from Stephen who is a costumed interpreter for the castle. He gives tours and tells people about the history of the castle. You can see him in the first picture. He is dressed as the butler to the Earl in 1916.
My thanks go to Stephen for the pictures and information about the castle and it's history.
He tells us about Powis:
I work in Powis Castle, which was built by Prince Gruffydd ap Gwenwynwyn. He started it around 1285/6 and it was finished by his daughter (Hewys Gadfan) by 1320. It was a major military castle up to the 1530's. By then castles were becoming old fashioned and so the last descendent of the Prince (Lord Edward Grey) started to turn it into a stately home. On his death his son sold the castle in 1587 to Edward Herbert, the second son of William Herbert Earl of Pembroke. The Herbert family owned Powis until 1952, when George Herbert (4th Earl of Powys) left it to the National Trust.
My role in the castle is a costumed interpreter; in other words, I dress as the butler to the earl in 1916. As the butler I can give tours, explain the history and (hopefully) get younger people interested in history in general, and the history of the castle in particular.
Edward Herbert was related to the Herbert's of Powis, and was an interesting person in his own right. He was a courtier, diplomat, poet, theologian , lute player, soldier and notorious womaniser (not always in that order). His autobiography is fascinating.
In case you get confused over Powys and Powis; the county has always been spelt with the y and the castle with the I. Welsh is phonetic, but the sound of y and I are similar, and the difference is just an historical accident.
Stephen as the butler and a co-worker as the housekeeper
in the courtyard looking at the main entrance.
The Castle as seen from the Great Lawn.
Some thoughts from Will on this castle.
There are three very interesting aspects to this castle as a travel destination. First off there is the medieval castle. That in itself is enough. But the castle grounds with the extensive gardens is in itself a destination worth seeing. The gardens date back 300 years although in that period they flourished and had periods of decline. And in it's modern state the credit goes to the Lady Violet who was the wife of the fourth Earl of Powys. It includes terraces such as the Aviary terrace, an Orangery terrace, a formal garden and a Fountain garden. Well worth the visit.
The third aspect of this castle is the Clive Museum which has Britains best collection of items from India and the far east.
If you want to learn more about the castle, it's hours of operation, special events and more be sure to visit the website right here: Powis Castle and Garden
The Castle and Gardens illuminated at night.
The castle illuminated at night.
A 1782 Watercolor of Powis castle by Thomas Pennant.
Here is a google earth view of the grounds of Powis Castle.
Books and Learn More
Medieval Powys: Kingdom, Principality and Lordships, 1132-1293 (Studies in Celtic History) by David Stephenson
Powys, extending over north-east and central Wales, was one of three great medieval Welsh polities, along with Gwynedd to the north and Deheubarth (south-west), occupying nearly a quarter of the country. However, it has been somewhat neglected by historians, who have tended to dismiss it as a satellite realm of England, and viewed its leaders as obstacles to the efforts of Gwynedd leaders to construct a principality of Wales. This book provides the first full, authoritative history of Powys in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. It argues in particular that the Powysian rulers were dogged and resourceful survivors in the face of pressure from Welsh rivals and the problems of internal fragmentation; and that, paradoxically, co-operation with the English and intermarriage with marcher families underlay a desire to regain lands to the east lost in earlier centuries. Dr David Stephenson is an Honorary Research Fellow in the School of History, Welsh History and Archaeology, Bangor University.
The Life of Lord Herbert of Cherbury
Edward Herbert, 1st Baron Herbert of Cherbury (or Chirbury) KB (1583 - 1648) was an Anglo-Welsh soldier, diplomat, historian, poet and religious philosopher of the Kingdom of England.
Powis Castle Garden (National Trust Guidebooks)
The National Trust cares for the finest collection of historic buildings, gardens, parks, landscape and coastline in the world. Its famous and well-respected series of guidebooks provides the essential companion to your visit and a lasting souvenir of the experience. And now you can buy the guide before your visit.
Authoritative texts and superb illustrations illuminate the history of the place and tell the stories of the people who have lived and worked there.