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Powis Castle from the Fountains Garden

Today, I visited Powis Castle for the first time. This grand National Trust property is a castle in name only. While it has medieval origins, it has been transformed through increasingly ludicrous redesigns into a beautiful if slightly disturbing and grandiose country home perched on a steep hill with phenomenal terraces on its eastern side.

Powis Castle sits on the outskirts of Welshpool and is much recommended for dog-free family visits (deer don’t like dogs apparently: Fenton! Fention!) and friendly staff. The only slight downside is the ludicrously late 11am opening time. Hence, unsurprisingly we got there early. This had its reward though: fallow deer were right by the road on the approach.

With 5 young kids in tow, two not walking yet and in a double pushchair, we didn’t attempt going inside the property but instead explored the gardens.

Despite many steps, we got to see most of what there was: lakes, the 19th-century icehouse, fabulous woods including giant sequoias and massive oaks, formal gardens, a fountain and the dragon-guarded iron gates. We looked at the amazing terraces below the castle and the stupendous yews. In the courtyard of the castle, a horrid statue of pegasus and some winged hornblower, but some fabulous canons. Also, there were peacocks, peahens and a peachick!

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Family in the woods at Powis Castle and Gardens

Of course, there were some mortuary and monumental highlights for me to report. The National Trust’s denial of death persists, and as reported previously regarding Chirk Castle and Erddig, there are no memorials on benches or trees or anywhere. But the exception is again the pet cemetery.

I haven’t yet researched about this pet cemetery, but it is rather odd. Located beside the outmost perimeter walk within the gardens towards its easternmost and highest extent, it possesses vistas eastwards. It is not demarcated in any clear fashion and today consists of a crude row of memorials.

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The two nineteenth-century pet memorials, Powis Castle

The memorials split into two contrasting groups defined by their date and style.

Three nineteenth/turn of the century memorials surivive.:

1) The first bears the name and date: PRINCE 1879

2) The second has three:

BLUCHER 1862

NERO DEC 1864

JUNG BAHADOOR 1869

The last pet seems to be named after the then-ruler of Nepal! Do these names also reflect the patriotic love-affair with Waterloo and a sardonic love of despots?

3) A third has the name and date: TWEED JULY 1901

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Twentieth-century pet memorials, Powis Castle

On a similar alignment and to the north of these, and after sixty-four years hiatus there are a triad of different memorials. Different in material – all are slate. Different in style – first names are recorded but then full dates are here recorded – birth and death:

BREN 1961-1975

PUNCH 1952-65

APOLLO 1962-1978

A short distance away in the woods, we also encountered a giant foot and a giant birdbath. In the gardens of the rich and mighty, no explanation needs to be sought or found.

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