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Trust urges Newtown residents to visit castle

 
Created on 08/08/2017 @ 09:50
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The National Trust is urging local people from Montgomeryshire to make the most of a local historic asset, Powis Castle, which has re-opened a gateway to the building that had been falling down.

The original Grand Entrance to the castle, near Welshpool, had been used to welcome Queen Victoria and King George V, but had been closed since 1952 when the National Trust took over the castle.

A £500,000 public appeal last year secured work to protect the steps and gateway which has now re-opened.

National Trust General Manager for Powis Castle, Emma Thompson said: “It was truly heart-warming to know that our 800-year-old fortress, which stands proudly overlooking the Welsh countryside, matters so much to so many people.

“The restoration of our Gateway to Grandeur, which was started in 2015, is now complete and open to visitors, marking a significant stage in the conservation of Powis Castle.

“Thanks to generous donations from the public, the East Front which once saw King George V, Queen Mary and Queen Victoria - as Princess Victoria – plus Clive of India, walk up its Grand Entrance, is open. This allows our visitors to enjoy the same magnificent views over the Breidden Hills that they experienced, for generations to come.

“All of us would wish to go back in time to explore certain periods in history. 

“And now the East Front will allow the public to imagine being a royal visitor from a bygone era, or simply spend time luxuriating in the unique views and atmosphere of the magnificent East Front.”

For more than half a century, since the National Trust took over the castle in 1952, she said the East Front had been hidden behind locked gates.

It had to be closed off to the public because it was unsafe and to prevent further damage to its ancient foundations; damp was eroding the sandstone steps and a retaining wall which held up the top terrace.

Mrs Thompson said: “The East Front is now open daily and we’re encouraging new and returning visitors to bring along a picnic and a book to read.

“We want visitors to take their time to admire this beautiful area of the castle for the first time and to immerse themselves in the unrivalled landscape too.”
 
With the restoration of the East Front complete, the National Trust is now turning its attention to one of the castle’s most striking internal features - it’s sweeping Grand Staircase. 

Mrs Thompson said: “We are doing amazing conservation work to restore the castle to how it would have appeared in earlier times. The East Front is the first stage of this and it will be followed by the upcoming Grand Staircase restoration.

“The Grand Staircase is currently closed because it’s not strong enough to support the 150,000 visitors we receive each year.

“Experts have looked at the structure of the staircase and it appears it’s not securely attached to the wall.

“We have to address this, while protecting the beautiful 17th Century wall paintings which make the entrance hall so unique.

“Ornately carved and surrounded by exceptional artworks by the likes of Antonio Verrio and his pupil Gerard Lanscroon, the staircase doesn’t look like it needs repairing.

“However it’s not safe to walk on having never been properly secured to the wall. 

“We want visitors to be able to walk beyond the East Front up to the half landing and possibly even all the way to the upper level of the castle, something we’ve been unable to share with visitors since the building was donated to us.

“All of the work we are doing is about conserving the castle and restoring it, so that the whole nation can continue to experience this grand Welsh castle at its best for generations to come. 

“We want our visitors to visualise themselves as part of the stories of people and events that make the incredible history of this special place.

“Donations through membership will cover some of the costs but we’re hoping to raise an extra £150,000 to pay for the initial investigations into the structure and then the repair work itself. 

“Donations, however large or small, will help to save this exquisite piece of history so that future visitors can experience even more of this unique Welsh treasure.”


 

 

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