Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Powis Castle and the Spinning Spinster

A-Z Challenge 2012 - P
Powis Castle

Powis Castle, near Welshpool in Powys, Mid Wales was built in the 12th century as a stronghold for the Princes of Powys as a defence against English invaders. The castle sits on a rocky ridge with steep slopes to the south-east and north-west.

Powis Castle
During the latter half of the 13th century, Owain, the last Prince of Powis began a rebuilding programme most of which is still visible today. In 1578 the castle came into the hands of Sir Edward Herbert, in whose family it has remained. Extensive repairs and modernisation were carried out by the Herberts in the late 1500s. The family were staunch Royalists during the Civil War. Powis Castle was captured by the Parliamentarian forces in 1644, garrisoned by them during the remainder of the war and not returned to the family until the restoration of Charles II.

William, Lord Powis, inherited the castle on the death of his father in 1667. A State Apartment, the Blue Drawing Room, library and the State Bedroom were all additions by William.

In 1784 Lady Henrietta Herbert married the eldest son of Clive of India; Edward Clive later changed his name to Herbert. The Clive fortune paid for overdue repairs to the castle and funded improvements to the gardens and park. It was George Herbert, 4th Earl of Powis who bequeathed the castle and gardens to the National Trust on his death in 1952.

Powis Castle - from its gardens 2006
The most famous haunting associated with Powis Castle is that involving a devout spinster invited in 1780 to stay and do some spinning work for the Earl. Little did she know that she had been given a bedroom known to be haunted.

As she was sitting by the fire reading her bible, she heard the door open. A man dressed in gold lace entered the room, crossed to the window and stood there silently, before turning and leaving the room. Not a word was spoken.

The woman knelt to pray when the ghostly man reappeared and motioned to her to follow him. By the light of a candle he led her to another room and showed her a locked casket beneath a floorboard. The phantom told her to take the casket and its key and send it to the Earl in London, promising her he would leave the house in peace if she did what she had been told.

Apparently the Earl was so delighted that he mad provision for the spinster to live in comfort at the castle for the rest of her life.

The contents of the casket were never revealed. The ghost in the gold lace suit was never seen again.

Hilary Melton-Butcher's castle for O - Oystermouth Castle on the Gower.

  • Powis Castle; author Val Vannet; Geograph project collection; Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 license.
  • Powis Castle viewed from its gardens, 2006; author Phil Catterall; Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 license.


Bish Denham said...

What an awesome story. And the castle, break taking!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Bob - what a great Tudor castle - and isn't it wonderful it's been kept up over the years with sufficient wealth within the families.

Love the two photos.

Now the story of the haunting .. is fascinating isn't it .. what was in the casket ... and the gold lace suit .. sounds stunning. I'm glad the ghost could rest ..

Cheers and good to see you back .. Hilary

PS re my Pendennis Castle and your mention of going to visit the Maritime Museum - you might like to look at the Castle line and the comments at the end of the article! Diane said 'talk about manners - or not!' ... near the end where the * is and where the typing is smaller ..

Cheers again .. enjoy! Hilary

Luanne G. Smith said...

Wow, that's impressive. And I really love it when they are continually upgraded and maintained. I wish I could have seen this one while in Wales. So beautiful.

Jo said...

Now I want to know what was in the casket.

I wrote what could be called a connecting blog earlier this year commenting on the family crest which features an elephant. Until I found the Clive of India connection, I couldn't figure out why a Welsh family would use an elephant.

~Sia McKye~ said...

What a lovely bit of history. Like the ghost story. I wonder what was in that casket? Must have been important for the Earl to make life long provisions for the spinster.


Unknown said...

Now you are moving into my area - we're just over the border - I love visiting the castle.

Wendy said...

The front view made me think this is a nice little manageable castle, rather short and stocky. Boy was I wrong when you showed the view from the gardens!

Laura Eno said...

I love old castles and their history! This is a great one.

A to Z of Immortals, Myths & Legends

Jenni Steel said...

I have heard quite a bit about Powis Castle but more from a gardening point of view. I'm sure if my memory serves me right, they open their gardens to the public.

As for the history of the place it's sounds fascinating and the casket. Wow! I wonder what became of the casket!

A very interesting story.

wsbhark said...

I am listening to the show 'Ghost Hunters' while reading your post, so that was interesting when your post began to explain about the ghost story aspect.

It is pretty with all the tiers.

Visiting from the A to Z. Happy Blogging!

Unknown said...

Terrific post and great blog. I've been to Powis Castle, and it really is stunning.

Pop over to my blog if you've the time. I'm the author of the Bella and Britt series for kids.

Thanks for sharing!

Sobriety Bites said...

Wonderful post Bob! Thanks so much for sharing. I've posted it to to share with our friends. Alison

Sobriety Bites said...

Wonderful. Have posted at - do follow us there! Thanks Alison

21 Wits said...

Have I told you lately how lucky you make us all feel, with your lovely castle tales! You do!

Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy said...

Another ghost story, but with a happy ending. The castle is huge from the back side of it, but at street level it doesn't appear that big.

Great post!

Kathy M.