Powderham Castle

Has been described as a Possible Fortified Manor House

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains

NamePowderham Castle
Alternative NamesPouderham
Historic CountryDevonshire
Modern AuthorityDevon
1974 AuthorityDevon
Civil ParishPowderham

Fortified manor house, the seat of the Courtenays, Earls of Devon, since the C14 constructed circa 1390-1420 altered and enlarged during C16, and between 1710 and 1727, 1754-55, 1794-98 and 1837-1846. 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. (Derived from Listed Building report)

An 18th/19th century layout incorporating a 15th century nucleus, ie an open hall with chambers and two successive chapels. The walls were embattled, and rectangular towers engulfed the structure. A 16th century map shows it as a cramped structure with four towers, and in c1540, Leland describes a bullwark or barbican by the river. An engraving of 1734 shows a crennelated central structure with walled courtyard, within its own gatehouse. There is no such evidence of fortification before the late middle ages, and no medieval documentation as a castle. A fortified manor house with emphasis on the domestic rather than the castle. (Devon and Dartmoor HER ref

Higham 1979)

Built by the junior branch of the Courtenay family, this estuarine house was stronger than it appears from its major post-medieval redevelopment. It underwent a siege during the Wars of the Roses. (Devon and Dartmoor HER ref. Higham 2009)

Not scheduled

This is a Grade 1 listed building protected by law

Historic England Scheduled Monument Number
Historic England Listed Building number(s)
Images Of England
Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceSX968836
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Copyright David J Glaves All Rights ReservedView full Sized Image
Copyright David J Glaves All Rights ReservedView full Sized Image
Copyright David J Glaves All Rights ReservedView full Sized Image

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  • Goodall, John, 2011, The English Castle 1066-1650 (Yale University Press) p. 321
  • Emery, Anthony, 2006, Greater Medieval Houses of England and Wales Vol. 3 Southern England (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press) p. 616-9
  • Higham, Robert A., 1999, 'Castles, Fortified Houses and Fortified Towns in the Middle Ages' in Kain, R. and Ravenhill, W., Historical Atlas of South-West England (University of Exeter Press) p. 136-43
  • Salter, Mike, 1999, The Castles of Devon and Cornwall (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 78-9
  • Pettifer, A., 1995, English Castles, A guide by counties (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p. 62
  • Pevsner, Nikolaus and Cherry, Bridget, 1989, Buildings of England: Devon (Harmondsworth) p. 148-9
  • Mildren, James, 1987, Castles of Devon (Bossiney Books) p. 39-43
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 1 p. 119
  • Hoskins, W.G., 1954, A New Survey of England: Devon (London: Collins) p. 278, 466-7
  • Oman, Charles W.C., 1926, Castles (1978 edn Beetham House: New York) p. 93-5
  • Harvey, Alfred, 1911, Castles and Walled Towns of England (London: Methuen and Co)
  • Mackenzie, J.D., 1896, Castles of England; their story and structure (New York: Macmillan) Vol. 2 p. 39-40 online copy
  • Buck, Samuel and Nathaniel, 1774, Buck's Antiquities (London) Vol. 1 p. 67, 68


  • Camden, Wm, 1607, Britannia hypertext critical edition by Dana F. Sutton (2004)
  • Chandler, John, 1993, John Leland's Itinerary: travels in Tudor England  (Sutton Publishing) p. 119
  • Toulmin-Smith, Lucy (ed), 1907, The itinerary of John Leland in or about the years 1535-1543 (London: Bell and Sons) Vol. 1 p. 232 online copy


  • Higham, R.A., 2009, 'Devon Castle Studies. A Personal Reflection. Devon Archaeological Society Presidential Lecture 2009' Proceedings of the Devon Archaeological Society Vol. 67
  • Higham, R.A., 1988, 'Devon Castles: an annotated list' Proceedings of the Devon Archaeological Society Vol. 46 p. 142-9
  • Girouard, Mark, 1963 July 4, 'Powderham Castle, Devon' Country Life p. 116-119
  • Girouard, Mark, 1963 July 11, 'Powderham Castle, Devon' Country Life p. 1-5
  • 1913, The Archaeological Journal Vol. 70 p. 530-2
  • Harding, Lieut-Colonel, 1867, 'A Paper on Powderham Castle' Transactions of the Exeter Diocesan Architectural Society (ser2) Vol. 1 Part II p. 170-183 and plates 26, 27 and 28
  • 1800, The Gentleman's Magazine Part 2 p. 617-8 online copy
  • 1799, The Gentleman's Magazine Part 2 p. 1113 and plate online copy

Guide Books

  • Pepys, c,1960, Powderham Castle (English Life Publications)

Primary Sources

  • Rickard, John, 2002, The Castle Community. The Personnel of English and Welsh Castles, 1272-1422 (Boydell Press) (lists sources for 1272-1422) p. 177