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Powis Castle

Powis Castle - Overview

The first fortified structure that stood on this site was built by a Gruffudd ap Gwenwynwyn, the Lord of Powys Wenwynwyn, in the mid thirteenth century. The original castle was practically destroyed by Llywelyn ap Gruffudd, the ruler of Gwynedd, in 1274. Following the conquest of Wales by Edward I, Gruffudd was restored to his estates and construction of a new castle on the site was soon underway. Following the English Civil War, the castle frequently changed possession, but in 1722 it was returned into the hands of William, second Marquess of Powis, who embellished the castle and completed the terraces. The formal Baroque garden is one of only a few still existing in their original form in Great Britain.

Due to a succession of childless marriages, the estate and title passed to Edward Clive, the husband of Henrietta Herbert, a distant relative of the third and last Marquess of Powis. Edward Clive was the eldest son of Robert Clive, an agent of the East India Company who enforced British supremacy in the subcontinent. It is through this marriage that the extensive Indian art collection was later relocated to Powis Castle. By the time their son inherited the estate, long-overdue repairs at the castle and gardens took place. These improvements were largely paid for with the Clive fortunes amassed in India.

By the late eighteenth century, tourists payed frequent visits to the picturesque gardens and admired the art and portrait collection on display at the castle. During the Napoleonic Wars, several visitors were surprised to find a portrait and a bust of Napoleon on prominent display!

Powis Castle received its final alterations during the first half of the twentieth century and during the Second World War a girls’ school was evacuated to the castle. George Charles Herbert, fourth Earl of Powis, bequeathed the castle to the National Trust in 1952, but the family still retains the right to live at the castle.

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