The castle was built between 1390 and 1420 by Sir Philip Courtenay. The Castle remains in the hands of his descendant, the Earl of Devon. It was extensively altered in both the 18th and 19th centuries, most notably by James Wyatt in the 1790s.
A female tortoise named Timothy lived on the Powderham castle grounds until her death in 2004. Having aged approximately 165 years, she was the oldest resident of Great Britain up to that time.
In May 2008 Lord Devon reportedly said the requests for gay civil partnerhips at Powderham Castle clashed with his religious beliefs. Devon County Council investigated and has said the licence for hosting civil ceremonies will be revoked.
County solicitor Roger Gash said that providers of civil ceremonies could not legally treat people unfairly according to their sexual orientation.
He said in an e-mail to Lord Devon: "It seems to me that your refusal to accept civil partnership ceremonies amounts to such discrimination and that this leaves the county council with no option but to revoke the licence for the castle."
The castle will be unable to host civil ceremonies from 1 January next year.
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