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A comprehensive gazetteer and bibliography of the medieval castles, fortifications and palaces of England, Wales and the Islands.
 
 
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Powderham Castle

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Pouderham

In the civil parish of Powderham.
In the historic county of Devon.
Modern Authority of Devon.
1974 county of Devon.

OS Map Grid Reference: SX96818360
Latitude 50.64295° Longitude -3.46069°

Powderham Castle has been described as a probable Fortified Manor House.

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains.

This is a Grade 1 listed building protected by law*.

Description

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)
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Sources of information, references and further reading
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The bibliography owes much to various bibliographies produced by John Kenyon for the Council for British Archaeology, the Castle Studies Group and others.
Suggestions for finding online and/or hard copies of bibliographical sources can be seen at this link.
Minor archaeological investigations, such as watching brief reports, and some other 'grey' literature is most likely to be held by H.E.R.s but is often poorly referenced and is unlikely to be recorded here, or elsewhere, but some suggestions can be found here.
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*The listed building may not be the actual medieval building, but a building on the site of, or incorporating fragments of, the described site.
This record last updated on Saturday, September 20, 2014

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