Delve into the collection at Powis Castle

Caesar busts in the Long Gallery at Powis Castle and Garden, Powys, Wales

We care for one of the world's greatest collections of art and historical items. Visit us and discover exceptional statues, furniture and textiles from Europe, India and the Orient.

Every item has a story to tell

Find out about ten of our most intriguing treasures below. They’re sure to help you gain an insight into our special place:

1. Twelve Caesars

These late 17th-century Italian busts are the earliest known surviving set of the Twelve Caesars in Great Britain. The set has been at Powis since at least 1704 and is made of Carrara marble and jasper. Each statue weighs about 150kg so major structural work had to be carried out in the Long Gallery in 2007 to ensure the floor would continue to support them for many years to come.

2. Pietre dure table

Our large Italian pietre dure table is about 450 years old and features a marble top inlaid with lapis lazuli and other semi-precious stones. Herbert family legend holds that the table was a gift from the Pope. Look carefully at the design to spot crickets, snails, birds and much more. 
The pietre dure table at Powis Castle
The pietre dure table top inlaid with semi-precious stones at Powis Castle, Powys, Wales

3. Lady Henrietta Herbert by Joshua Reynolds

Lady Henrietta Herbert, Countess of Powis (1758-1830) was painted by Sir Joshua Reynolds - the leading portrait artist of the 18th century. A small black-and-white engraving, produced shortly after the portrait was completed, shows Lady Henrietta was originally painted with an elaborate hairstyle, but no hat. It seems the painting was modified by a different artist when fashions changed – ‘Photoshop’ of its time. Henrietta's marriage to Edward Clive in 1784 provided a sound financial future for Powis. 

4. Tiger, tiger

A historical gem: this solid gold, Indian finial came from the throne of Tipu Sultan and is decorated with diamonds, emeralds and rubies. It is redolent of power, status and beauty. Originally one of eight, only two finials are known to still exist.
The gold, bejewelled tiger head finial at Powis Castle
A gold, bejewelled tiger head finial. Part of the Clive Collection at Powis Castle, Pwys, Wales


5. Tipu’s tent

The section of Tipu Sultan’s magnificently decorated state tent that you can see in the Tent Room (off the Ballroom) is just a small portion: if the whole tent was erected, it would fill the castle courtyard.

6. Roman cat

This marble cat sculpture was a gift from Robert Clive, Clive of India, to his wife Margaret, who was particularly fond of cats. He reportedly told his agent to buy it 'Coute qui coute' (whatever the cost). For many years it was thought to date back to the Roman times (1st century BC – 2nd century AD) and was considered particularly unusual, however recent research suggests it may have been made in the 18th century. 

7. A View of Verona

This breath-taking masterpiece by Bernardo Bellotto (c1745-7) was reportedly purchased by Clive of India. It shows the River Adige, with the Castel San Pietro in the middle distance and wooden watermills anchored in the river. Bellotto was Canneletto's nephew and understudy and he showed just as much attention to detail as his uncle.
'A View of Verona' by Bellotto at Powis Castle
An oil painting by Bellotto, 'A View of Verona' at powis Castle and Garden, Powys, Wales

8. Book of hours

This exquisite 15th-century illuminated book of hours belonged to Lady Eleanor Percy and was used for private prayer and devotion. It is one of the finest examples of an illuminated manuscript in the care of the National Trust. Evidence suggests that there would have been a family chapel hidden away in the castle as their Catholic faith was illegal during the late 16th century. 

9. Old Parr

This portrait is of ‘Old Parr’, a local hero. He was a Shropshire farm labourer who was born in 1483, and lived on a simple diet of buttermilk, bread, onions and green cheese. He became an object of curiosity in 1635 when he was taken to London to meet King Charles I. Whilst there he was treated to lavish parties, indulgent food and alcohol which apparently didn’t suit him, as he died two weeks later, reputedly aged 152!

10. The State Coach

Our State Coach was originally kept at the family’s London home for ceremonial occasions and court functions. The coach was used in 1914, to take Violet Powis, and her husband George, 4th Earl of Powis, to a State Ball at Buckingham Palace. Violet described how stringent checks were in place at the event to prevent suffragettes getting in but the yellow Powis coach was immediately recognised and granted admittance without being searched.  

Discover more

We’ve thousands more fascinating objects, each with an amazing story behind it. Visit us and you'll be amazed at what you might find.