Delve into the collections at Powis Castle
We care for one of the world's great collections of art and historical objects. Visit us and discover exceptional works of art including paintings, sculpture, furniture and textiles from Europe, India and East Asia.
Every object has a story to tell
Discover ten of our most intriguing treasures below. They’re sure to help you gain deeper insight into what makes Powis Castle so special.
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 to ensure the floor could support them for many years to come.
2. 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 purchased it during his grand tour in Rome where he reportedly told his agent to buy it 'Coute qui coute' (whatever the cost). Once thought to have been made for the grand tour market, this sculpture of crystalline Greek marble is likely to be Roman (100 BC – AD 200).
3. Pietre dure table
Our large Roman pietre dure table dates to about 1580 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.
4. 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 later artist when fashions changed. Henrietta's marriage to Edward Clive in 1784 provided a sound financial future for Powis.
5. 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.
6. Tipu’s tent
Tipu Sultan’s magnificent state tent, made of painted chintz, was another treasure claimed by Edward Clive. The tent was the seat of Tipu Sultan’s power and was probably used by him as a campaign tent when travelling. What you see at Powis today is just a small portion; if the whole tent is erected, it would fill the castle courtyard.
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 the nephew and assistant of Canaletto, the celebrated view painter.
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 Catholicism was illegal during the late 16th centur
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.
We have many more fascinating objects, each with a fascinating story to tell. Visit us and you’ll be amazed at what you might find.