During May half term, we were lucky enough to be invited to the Medieval Madness event taking place at the beautiful Powderham Castle near Exeter, Devon. This was an exciting event based on Medieval times and included lots of medieval-themed activities. Nathan and I visited on bank holiday Monday and enjoyed a relaxing and fun-filled day at the castle and grounds.
So Many Roses
Well signposted, Powderham Castle is easy to reach and isn’t far from Exeter city centre. We arrived by car and found parking super easy and free. Entry to the castle grounds was easy too and we were warmly welcomed by the staff who helped us pre-book onto the castle tours. First, we decided to head to the beautiful rose gardens which are situated on the castle’s east-facing terrace and offer some incredible views over the deer park and down to the River Exe.
I loved admiring all the stunning roses and loved the range of colours on display. The gardens have such a lovely view that we stopped and sat on one of the many benches placed around the garden for a good 15 minutes. I couldn’t help but photograph all the roses – they were just too pretty not to!
We made sure to pop into the chapel too which was super cute and quaint.
Touring the Castle
Next, it was time to check out the castle! We opted for the open house viewing which is when the castle is open to visitors to wander around freely. This happens daily at 13.15-14.00 and there are plenty of guides situated in the rooms who are more than happy to tell you further information about the state rooms or the history of the castle.
No photographs are allowed inside so apologies for the lack of photos. I can, however, tell you that the inside of the castle and the state rooms are stunning! You will just have to go and visit yourself if you want to see inside! There’s grand dining rooms, posh living rooms and a lovely conservatory room overlooking the beautiful rose garden. There are lots of family photos of the Courtenay family too and as usual when Nathan and visit somewhere grand such as Powderham Castle we couldn’t help but imagine what it would be like if we lived here! We particularly loved the secret bookshelf doors and spotting all the medieval figures dotted around the rooms for us to find.
We also took the Upstairs Tour of the house which offers visitors a chance to explore never-seen-before family bedrooms and see a more personal side of the Courtenay family home. The guide was super friendly and very knowledgeable. The tour lasted about 45 minutes I recall and is included in the entry price which is great.
We enjoyed the half term ‘Medieval Madness’ event being put on at the castle. Unfortunately, we were a few days too early to enjoy the Knights of Royal England’s premiere jousting displays. I can imagine these displays would have been really atmospheric and interesting to see and I bet they kept children and adults entertained during their half term visits.
We did, however, get to see a fun and interactive show hosted by the Pocketwatch Theatre Company. Here we got involved in the medieval madness and saw lots of children thoroughly enjoying themselves all dressed up and armed with medieval swords!
There was also a tent full of crafty activities for children to get stuck in with, including medieval shield painting – something I know I would have enjoyed as a kid!
Making New Friends
As well as having a stunning castle and beautiful gardens, Powderham Castle offers visitors the opportunity to meet lots of animals too which we were expecting. We took a walk through the gardens to the Victorian Walled Garden which is home to the garden play area and pets corner. Here we found ourselves in a world of roaming birds and even a huge tortoise. There were lots of different animals to see including rodents, birds, pigs, guinea pigs and even a horse and donkey. It was a cute area where children (and Nathan!) could get up close and personal with the animals and make some new friends.
There’s a fun looking children’s play area too complete with tractor trailers and the Courtenay Fort – oh to be 7 again! You can also grab a drink from the Snack Shack which has a vending machine featuring all sorts of yummy naughtiness!
We took a walk down to the Forge too and saw the blacksmith at work.
The highlight of our visit for me has to be the Belvedere Safari Tour we went on. This tour gave us the chance to ride on the tractor-trailer and be driven through the gorgeous deer park to the grand Belvedere Tower.
We loved riding through the deer park and I was amazed at how many deer there were – apparently over 450! Our driver told us many of them were due to give birth to hundreds more deer – incredible! The slow-moving and quiet tractor enabled us to cross the park and get pretty close to the deer before they would slowly move away. I love deer, I think they are really beautiful animals with such pretty faces. It was great to see them up close and in such a stunning environment.
After moving through the deer park our driver took us to the stunning Belvedere Tower, which I thought was super striking. Here we stopped for ten minutes to admire the wonderful, far-reaching views over the Exe Estuary and Topsham.
The sun came out for us and we walked around the tower taking photos and peering into the structures inside.
After our pit stop, we took the leisurely ride back through the deer park, passing many more deer and saw some great views of the back of the castle and the rose garden. Apparently, this was the first Belvedere Safari that had been run and it took about an hour. The tour was £3.50 each and so worth it!
Deer Park Safari tours are also available and run a few times throughout the day. These are also £3.50 and enable visitors to ride for an enjoyable 45 minutes through the deer park. There are some stunning trees and lake views to admire too.
If you fancy a bite to eat whilst visiting the castle then the Courtenay Café has all you need! They serve lunches, cream teas, and ice cream too! We saw plenty of places to sit both inside and outside in the castle courtyard.
There’s also a cute little gift shop too where you can find some lovely gifts and all your usual souvenir bits. There’s also lots of information and models to look at which help you learn more about the castle and the Courtenay family as well.
For more information about visiting Powderham Castle, be sure to check out their website and check their Facebook page for the latest events – it looks like there’s a lot of cool events coming up over the summer months. Entry to the castle costs £10.95 for children (ages 4-16 years), £12.95 for adults and £39.95 for a family of 4. Tickets are valid for a return visit within 7 days – perfect for those on holiday wanting to return and explore some more.
We enjoyed our day at Powderham Castle, especially the Belvedere Safari Tour which I would say is a must to really add to your visit. The gardens were beautiful, the house majestic and the medieval madness event a bit of extra fun! Something for all the family I think and a lovely day out.
*** Our entry to Powderham Castle was gifted to us in return for this review. All thoughts, pictures, and opinions are my own. ***