Happy Birthday Powis

Yesterday we celebrated the anniversary of Powis Castle being handed over to the National Trust by the 4th Earl. All the staff and volunteers from all the different sections of the Castle came together to celebrate in the tea rooms yesterday evening. In celebration of 60 years of Trust ownership we had an indoor BBQ and Powis Pub Quiz in the tea rooms. It was such good fun and really nice for us all to socialize together. Although we interact often it is rare we all get together like this so it was really lovely; good fun and friendly, a perfect reflection of Powis Castle in general.

The Castle in Summer

The Peacock statue in the gardens in Autumn

On our tables while we were eating was a timeline of the highlights of the last 60 years and I though it was really interesting, all the stuff that has happened here since the Trust has owned it is amazing!

1952 – 4th Earl died and bequeathed Powis to the National Trust

1950’s – The Caesar’s busts are removed from the Long Gallery

1966 – Bryn Davies joins the garden team, he’s still with us today!

1974 – 5th Earl dies

1974 – 1978 – the 6th Earl uses the room now presented as the smoking room as a dining room

1981 – Bellotto’s painting ‘A view of Verona’ is purchased by the Trust with the aid of  National Heritage Memorial Fund, National Art Collections Fund, Victoria and Albert Museum Grant-in-Aid scheme and private contributions

1987 – The Countess Mountbatten of Burma opens the Clive Museum

1988 – 6th Earl dies

1990 – Bronze bust of Sir Herbert of Chirbury is purchased by the Trust with the aid of the National Museum of Wales with the aid of the National Heritage Memorial Fund and the National Art Collections Fund

1993 – 7th Earl died and the title passed to the present Earl, John George Herbert

1995 – Powis Castle gardeners and others are invited to the garden party at Buckingham Palace

1995 – 1999 – H.R.H Prince Charles stays at Powis

1998 – H.R.H Prince Charles opens the new bridge by the Ice House in the gardens

1999 – Many items in the Clive Museum are purchased by Trust with the aid of  National Heritage Memorial Fund and the National Art Collections Fund

2007 – A project to restore the 8 Caesars in the Long Gallery is accomplished

2008 – 2010 – The heraldry friezes in the Long Gallery are cleaned and restored

2009 – Lady Stephanie Herbert marries, arriving in the State Coach

2009 – Visitor figure exceed 100,00 for the first time, this year its 108,00

2010 – The Private Dining Room is represented as the Smoking Room

2011 – The Royal Wedding – A record number of visitors watch on a large TV in the gardens

2011 – Powis hosted in the start of the Tour of Wales for the first time

2012 – Queen’s Diamond Jubilee – more than 5,000 visitors celebrated at Powis

The garden in the winter

The gardens in spring

All credit to Jenny for doing the research for the timeline above. I feel so privileged to have been able to have this opportunity, and especially so to be working at such an amazing property during this milestone year! We have been so busy at the moment but it is worth all the rushing around and stress to know I am contributing positively to this beautiful place’s story, and hopefully helping it towards another successful 60 years . . . and many many more!

A tour by the Earl himself!

On Wednesday I was privileged enough to go on one of the Earl’s tours. These happen every so often and are ticketed but this particular tour was just for the staff and volunteers of Powis Castle. It was a really exciting opportunity to hear more personal stories from the Earl about how his family used the Castle as a home.

The Earl told us an amusing anecdote of his children putting a top hat on Julius Caesar’s bust, something I though would be quite fun to re-instate however I’m not sure old Julius himself would find it too funny. He looks quite severe.

Julius Caesar in the Long Gallery at Powis

The Earl also told us a ghost story about the castle. It is one I’ve heard before with a slight twist, and I think I prefer the Earl’s version to the first one I heard. He did admit there is no way to know if it’s true or not, but it makes for a very good tale!

The ceiling painting in the Library

The ceiling painting in the Library features the four daughters of the 2nd Marquis and the story centers around the second eldest of the four. Her name was Theresa, Lady Throckmorton and her husband, Sir Robert Throckmorton. In the ceiling painting she is depicted seated as Truth, holding a mirror.

The story goes that when her husband was jailed in the Tower of London, for being Catholic under a Protestant King, Teresa hatched an escape plan. In the planning process Teresa sent a servant of hers to her family home, Powis Castle, to discuss plans. Her servant was invited to stay the night at the Castle and was put in a room known to be haunted. (This room in the other version of the story is the Duke’s Room). The ghost appeared to the servant woman in the night several times until she followed the ghost. He pointed to the floor and she lifted the floor board, revealing a lost family treasure. The servant took this treasure and it was used to pay for Robert’s daring rescue from the Tower. The story goes that it was arranged for Robert to be snuck out of the Tower, in disguise as a washer woman. It was thought that this servant was Grace Evans, and that in recognition of her help in the escape she was rewarded with a cottage in Welshpool, which still stands today. However it is now thought that it was not Grace who helped in the escape plot.

I think this is a really intriguing tale with some certain truth mixed with fantasy that fits quite nicely together.