Powderham was built in 1391 by Sir Philip Courtenay, it was created as a family home, a landmark and a space for community life to come together. Sir Philip might not recognise the castle anymore, but we believe would be proud that the purposes remain consistent.
Visits to Powderham are a unique opportunity to discover, explore and learn. We share the history of the Courtenay family who have been influential on the region, and sometimes the nations, history.
Our Castle Tours allow our guides to share a curated visit, or you are welcome to explore at your own pace.
Powderham was built as a medieval great hall, but over the last six centuries has been much adapted and molded to the family who call it home. There have been major building renovations that have seen Tudor, Georgian, and Victorian enhancements.
One of the most exciting elements of visiting the state rooms is finding the secret doors, the extra thick doors that pass through medieval walls and hints that elude the buildings long and varied past.
The Courtenay family were originally French knights; the story begins with tales of the crusade, and continues with roles in the Battle of Agincourt, The Civil War, War of the Roses and World War II. From coronations to executions, the Tower of London to Westminster Abbey. The stories told at Powderham are not just of a noble family, but one of English history for a millennium.
The Courtenay have always been collectors, and over the centuries have amassed treasures that they then passed down through generations. It’s our privilege to now look after them and to share them with our visitors. They were also passionate about championing local craftsmen and patrons of great artists.
The likes of Wiliam Stumbels of Totnes, Richard Cosway of Tiverton, and Thomas Whitty of Axminster, all have left legacies within their profession, and objects of their work are still displayed proudly at Powderham.