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We are often down in South Devon visiting my parents and when we are there we like to find different places to visit with our daughters. On our last visit, which coincided with Easter, we decided to pay a visit to Powderham Castle which is just a few miles from Exeter. It is actually in the small village of Kenton which is on the very scenic coastal route from Exeter through to Teignmouth. It was built as long ago as 1391 and is currently the home of the eighteenth Earl of Devon. It is set in many acres and is situated very close to the River Exe.
The castle and its grounds are open to the public from 1st April to 31st October this year and it is open on every day apart from Saturday - although having said that on its website it does indicate a few Saturdays when it is open. It is worth checking though as it would be most annoying to turn up and discover it was closed. Opening times are 11 am to 4.30 pm for most of the year although in July and August they do stay open an additional hour until half past five.
There are lots of different things that you can do for your admission price which could be:
Child (5-14): £7.50
Under 5s FREE
Also, the price of these tickets includes a free return visit within seven days. I did not actually realise this when we visited but it is something I would want to take advantage of if we visited again.
The main attraction for most people will be the guided tour of part of the castle. The rooms are quite stunning and steeped in history. However, small children are likely to get a bit fidgety so if you are going to do this with a young family it is probably best to do at the start of your visit. What is probably a little more interesting for young children is a visit to the Victorian kitchen where they will see lots of very old fashioned and fascinating cooking utensils. The other exciting place to visit is the walled secret garden. This has lots of small farm animals and a great deal of play equipment too so unsurprisingly we spent quite a bit of time here. The girls really loved this area and loved seeing all of the different animals. They also loved playing on and in Courtenay Fort which has a central turret, suspension bridge, nets, a climbing wall and much more. It is suitable for children up to the age of twelve but obviously much younger ones should be supervised.
If you are planning to visit it is also worth checking whether they have any events on as these can be quite exciting. When we went at Easter the children had the opportunity to meet Willy Wonka and to make some sweets in his chocolate factory. This was a lot of fun and the person who was pretending to be Willy Wonka was very charismatic and very like the Jonny Depp version of Wonka! At the same time there was a lollipop hunt in the grounds and prizes for all the children who took part from the gift shop. Looking at their website I notice that they have other events over the summer including a wonderland week.
Other things you can do while you are there include visiting the tea room or the gift shop, watching birds of prey (only in July and August) and going on a deer safari (there is an extra charge for this). Everything else is included in the admission and if you can get a family ticket it works out quite good value and also the fact that under fives are free.
However, you don't have to pay any admission to walk in much of the extensive grounds and this can be quite breathtaking especially as you are likely to come quite close to deer. Also, you can visit their wonderful farm shop for free and buy all sorts of wonderful locally sourced products. The cakes are always very tempting! There is also another tea room attached to the shop and this also serves very nice food indeed.
There is quite a bit of parking for the castle but do be warned as this is just a food and if it has been raining it can get quite slippery and muddy. This was the case when we visited in April and we did see a couple of cars needing to be pushed out of the mud. Therefore one little suggestion would be that they should improve their parking facilities. Other than that though. I really can't fault Powderham Castle. It is a lovely place that is steeped in history and has good attractions for children too. It is definitely well worth a visit if you are going to be in Devon this summer.