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Powderham Castle

Historical Castles in Devon

No visit to Devon is complete without paying some respect to, or at least going to have a good nosey at, the Lords and Ladies who have made their homes around here over the years. Devon has had its fair share of big players in Europe’s ‘game of thrones’ over the years, and we’ve got the castles to prove it.

These are just two of the many fine castles and houses to be found in Devon.


Powderham Castle

Just down the road from Welcome Family Holiday Park is Powderham Castle, a fortified manor house. It is named from the ancient Dutch word polder and means ‘the hamlet of the reclaimed marsh-land’.

It served as the ancestral seat of the De Courtenay family, and if you don’t know who they are then read on!

The line is viewed as being founded by Athon De Courtenay, the son of the man who originally defended and fortified the town of Courtenay in France towards the end of the first millennium CE. This family rose to prominence after the loss of the English throne to the Frenchman William the Conqueror.

Many of his followers and commanders were gifted lands and titles as the French took full control of the country, and the Courtenay’s received what was from then on the seat of the Earls of Devon.

This bloodline produced, amongst others, an Emperor of Constantinople. This was Pierre De Courtenay, formerly Pierre De France, seventh son of Louis the VI of France. He married into the Courtenay family and took their name.

This marriage fused the Courtenay line with the famous Capetian dynasty, which produced so many of France’s kings. These people have had an Archbishop of Canterbury, a Royal Physician, and positions of note throughout the land over the years.

The Castle is dog friendly and open all year round via guided tours. The grounds are worth seeing, with views all the way down to the River Exe.


Berry Pomeroy Castle

Berry Pomeroy castle, tucked away in a deep wood valley close to Totnes, tells the story of another family that did not fair so well in the great game that the royal families of Europe have been playing for the last thousand or more years. The castle is a beautiful ruin.

Purported to be one of the most haunted places in Devon, this castle is a reminder that even the wealthiest families can fall on hard times and go back to being normal people, who have no idea of their heritage beyond the last two generations or so.

Shortly after commencing work on the castle in around 1500, the family fell on hard times and sold the land to Edward Seymour, the 1st Duke of Somerset and Lord Protector of the young King Edward VI.

However, Edward Seymour did not stay long in favour with the crown and was executed for treason in 1552. All his lands passed to the Crown. Within the 15th-century defences of the Pomeroy family castle, the ruins of the Elizabethan mansion of the Seymours can be found.

Edward’s son, another Seymour, regained the castle some years later, and the Seymours retained and expanded the buildings until they fell from grace after supporting the unsuccessful Royalist cause against Oliver Cromwell.

You can explore the ruins with an audio guide and have a rest in the cafe. The castle is very dog friendly. Opening times for Berry Pomery Castle can vary throughout the year. Entrance charges apply to visitors who are not English Heritage Members, so if you do have membership, be sure to remember your card.

Smugglers Tunnel Zoo Sign

Local Attractions

There really is something for everyone in the surrounding areas of Welcome Family Holiday Park. From adventure parks to zoos, it’s a real a to z of activities.