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List Entry Summary

This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.


List Entry Number: 1097666



The building may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Devon
District: Teignbridge
District Type: District Authority
Parish: Powderham

National Park: Not applicable to this List entry.

Grade: I

Date first listed: 11-Nov-1952

Date of most recent amendment: Not applicable to this List entry.

Legacy System Information

The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System: LBS

UID: 85987

Asset Groupings

This List entry does not comprise part of an Asset Grouping. Asset Groupings are not part of the official record but are added later for information.

List Entry Description

Summary of Building

Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Reasons for Designation

Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.



6/340 Powderham Castle 11.11.52


Fortified manor house, the seat of the Courtenays, Earls of Devon, since the C14. Medieval core with a sequence of C18 alterations, principally of the 1750s and 1760s, music room addition of 1794-6 by James Wyatt for the third Viscount. In the late 183cs Charles Fowler was employed at the beginning of a C19 programme of alterations which continued into the 1860s. Fowler designed the Gothic dining room addition and effectively turned the castle round - it had formerly faced east - by transforming the old service yard to the west into a forecourt with a gatehouse. Grey limestone rubble with some fragments of red sandstone ; embattled parapets. Plan: The medieval core in the main range, on a north-south axis, is partly buried in the later alterations but consisted of an open hall with 3 service doors at the lower (south) end leading into service rooms and a kitchen at the south. The private apartments to the north of the hall included a first floor solar. The north wing was a chapel wing (chapel mentioned in 1450) projecting east from the main range, A smaller corresponding south wing was probably originally detached and retains a high quality late medieval roof ; it may have been a first floor or open hall of some kind and although unheated at present appears to be shown with stacks in a stylized drawing of 1743. 4 substantial towers survive : a medieval north-west tower, a probably medieval tower in the angle between the main range and north wing and towers on the west and east walls of the main range ; these may be C16 or C16 remodellings and certainly predate 1734 (Buck's engraving). A fifth tower is buried in C18 alterations to the north wing. The programme of C18 alterations is described in detail in Mark Girouard's article in Country Life and before the employment of James Wyatt for the 1790s music room is remarkable for the use of local builders and craftsmen. In brief: by 1717 the north wing had been recast as a chapel with library over, the library (now a drawing room) being refurbished in 1740 with plaster work (no longer existing) by Jenkins and a baroque chimneypiece, doorcase and bookshelcases (now moved downstairs) probably all by J. Channon. The hall in the main range was subdivided vertically by 1755 when it was split between a spectacular stair hall with a massive open well stair by James Garrett of Exeter employed as 'surveyor' to the Powderham Estate with plasterwork by John Jenkins, and a 2 storey high reception room retaining the medieval service doorways at the lower end of the hall. Further alterations of the 1760s for the 2nd Viscount involved work in the north wing and single-storey rooms flanking the east tower including rococo ceilings and Gothick windows. In the 1780s the chapel in the north wing, was converted into a drawing room (formed into libraries at the beginning of the C19). The 3rd Viscount, who inherited in 1788, added the splendid music room, adjacent to the north wing in 1794-6, by Wyatt. The final major programme of alterations was begun by the 10th Earl who employed Charles Fowler to add a dining hall on the west side of the main range and create a new entrance front on the west side with a baronial courtyard; the whole exterior of the Castle was "extensively restored and in part re-Gothicised" (Girouard) at the same time. The dining hall was not completed until the late 1850s and in 1861 the south wing, with the superior medieval roof, was remodelled asia chapel. Exterior: Main range 3 storeys, north and south wings 2 storey, 4 storey towers to north-west, west and east, single storey music room, dining room and west bays. All battlemented and buttressed on'the west elevation. West elevation with a 4-storey entrance tower and the north west tower projecting at the left with Fowler's 3-bay buttressed single storey dining hall between the towers with tall transomed Decorated traceried windows. Massive arched doorway into entrance tower below a corbelled oriel window by Fowler, another oriel of unknown date on the main range to the right of the entrance tower. 1-, 2- and 3-light stone windows in square-headed frames, some with cusped heads, mostly C19 restorations but some probably original. The east elevation (formerly the main entrance) also has a 4-storey entrance tower with a 2- leaf Gothick traceried door, flanked by single-storey projecting battlemented bays with Gothick windows. Embattled tower in the angle with the north wing which has 5- bays of sash windows with Gothick glazing bars on the inner return, one bay to the east end. The south wing has 2 projections on the inner return and a bay window on the east end. Between the south wing and the east tower the main range, with a projecting turret, rises above a single-storey block. Adjoining the north wing, at the north end the Wyatt music room projects to the front (east) with a 3-sided bay with big 2-leaf windows with semi-circular fanlights and ogival glazing bars. The north end of the castle has the north west tower to the right with a projecting embattled stair turret. Set back from the tower and to the left, a 3 bay 3-storey block with early C18 segmental-headed sash windows with proud architraves. The music room to the left has a 3-sided embattled turret. The south side of the south wing (the present chapel wing) is 5 bays with a 2-bay adsdition at the east end. A stone retaining wall to the terrace east of the castle with battlemented bastions is included in the listing. The Forecourt Fowlers embattled forecourt buildings, in the baronial style, include a central gatehouse with moulded Tudor arches and a stone rib vault with a battlemented octagonal corner tower flanked by buttressed embattled walls. Outside the south wall an irregular service range now includes the estate office: on the north side the Steward's house, partly in a rectangular corner tower with a second gatehouse to the north-east leading to the drive from Powderham Gate. Grey limestone walling with refuges and octagonal piers at the west end flank the narrow drive immediately in front of the forecourt up to the west gatehouse. Interior: Described in detail in Girouard's article in Country Life, of the medieval remains the 3 2-centred arched double-chamfered doorways to the service end survive with a flatter arched doorway above, possibly to the hall gallery ; a moulded stone fireplace in the first floor solar and a turret stair in the adjoining tower ; blocked doors and windows are also said to survive beneath later wall plaster. Fine probably C15 6-bay arched brace roof in the south wing (now the chapel) with hollow chamfered arch braces carried on carved corbels-and windbraces. The C18 work is extensive and splendid from the early C18 chimneypiece and overdoors in the original library (matching the Channon bookcases of 1740) to the magnificent stair hall, described as "the most spectacular space of its date in Devon" (Cherry). The stair, rather archaic for the date, is massive with 3 flights with barley sugar balusters, the exuberant plasterwork in deep relief by John Jenkins covers the walls and underside of the flights with a mixture of stylized ornament and naturalistic leaves, fruit and animals with military trophies and musical instruments. The other C18 principal rooms (apart from the original library) have later rococo ceilings and fine chimneypieces with original grates and jonery. The music room by Wyatt, described in 1798 as "the finest and most expensive room in the County" (Swete) is sophisticated Neo-classical with a coffered dome and decorated plaster ceiling (the ceiling retaining original paint) with a frieze incorporating musical instruments. Scagliola Corinthian wall pilasters divide niches filled with large alabaster urns, the roundels above painted by the 3rd Viscount and his sisters ; white marble skirting boards. Splendid marble chimneypiece by R. Westmacott Sen, with large white marble figures playing the flute and tambourine : the Thomire grate of 1788 is no longer in the room. 1757 organ by Seede in an elaborately decorated case. Charles Fowler's dining hall, begun in 1835 but finished during the time of the 11th Earl (in possession 1859-1888), has a fine 7-bay roof painted timber roof, a gallery at the south end with Gothic panelling, a massive painted stone Gothic chimney-piece based on Bishop Peter Courtenay's fireplace in the Bishop's Palace, Exeter and a dado of linenfold panelling with a frieze of armorial bearings of the Courtenay family. The present chapel, in the south wing, includes C16 carved bench ends that originated from South Huish. Documentation relating to the C18 and C19 building programmes is deposited in the DRO and other archive material exists at the Castle. Buck's useful engraving of 1743 showing the east elevation before the building was turned round is reproduced as a plate to Hardings's article in TEDAS and a stylized drawing of the same elevation on a map dated 1743 exists in the DRO. Swete's 1799 watercolour show the east and north elevations much as they are today. Map dated July 1743 in DRO, 96m add/E11. Harding, Lieut-Colonel, 'A Paper on Powderham Castle', Transactions of the Exeter Diocesan Architectural Society, vol. I, Part II, second series, pp. 170-183 and plates 26, 27 and 28. Swete, J., 'Picturesque sketches of Devon', vol. 17 (1798). MS held in DRO. Girouard, Mark, 'Powderham Castle, Devon' ; Country Life, July 4th 1963, pp. 116-119; July 11th 1963, pp. 1-5.

Listing NGR: SX9682883599

Selected Sources

Books and journals
Swete, J, Swetes Picturesque Sketches of Devon, (1792-1801)
'Country Life' in 4 July, (1963), 116-119
'Country Life' in 11 July, (1963)
'Transactions of the Exeter Diocesan Architectural Society Part II Second Series' in Transactions of the Exeter Diocesan Architectural Society Part II Second Series, , Vol. 1, (1872), 170-183
Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest in England, Part 11 Devon,


National Grid Reference: SX 96824 83604

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This copy shows the entry on 20-Apr-2021 at 09:16:19.