Picton Castle

Picton Castle

Picton Castle Interior

Picton Castle Interior


Picton Castle (Welsh: Castell Pictwn) is a medieval castle near Haverfordwest in Pembrokeshire. Until the late eleventh century, this part of southwestern Wales was part of the Welsh kingdom of Deheubarth. After the death in 1093 of the king of Deheubarth, Rhys ap Tewdwr, in the Battle of Brecon, the Normans took advantage of the lack of leadership among the Welsh. and the English forces seized much of South Wales. To supplement their castle with its garrison at Pembroke, Henry I of England sought to colonise the surrounding area by settling Flemings in Rhos and Deugleddau, in the neighbourhood of Haverfordwest. One of these Flemish barons was Wizo, who built and lived at Wiston Castle. Wizo began to grant estates from the land he had been given to his followers, and one of these knights was granted the land at Picton, which was three miles to the south of Wiston. This Flemish knight was not a great historical figure and his name is not recorded. The site chosen for the castle he built may have been on a mound a few hundred yards to the east of the present house, but in any event, the present building was in place by the end of the thirteenth century and was by then in the hands of the Wogan family, who were now the owners of Wiston Castle


The circumstances under which Picton Castle came to be owned by the Wogans is unclear, but it may have been through a failure to beget male heirs or through the marriage of an heiress to one of the Wogans. By the 13th century, Wiston Castle seems to have been abandoned and the Wogan family lived at Picton Castle, where their heirs have lived ever since. Picton Castle began as a motte castle and was reconstructed in stone by the Sir John Wogan between 1295 and 1308. The design was unusual, there being no courtyard internally, the main building being protected by seven circular towers which projected from the wall. At the east end, two of these towers acted as a gatehouse, and the portcullised-entrance between them led straight into the lower part of the great hall. At this time the windows were narrow slits but these were replaced in about 1400 by large windows and a grand recessed arch with large window was built in the gatehouse. In 1405, French troops supporting Owain Glyndŵr attacked and held the Castle, and it was seized again during the English Civil War in 1645 by Parliamentary forces.


The Picton Castle estate came into the hands of the Philipps family when Sir Thomas ap Philipps of Cilsant married Jane, daughter of Sir Henry Dwnn, and heiress of Picton in the 1490s. Sir John Philipps, who inherited the castle in the 15th century, remodelled the building and created a new entrance which remained until the 1820s when a new entrance was designed by Thomas Rowlands (who also designed Slebech Church). In 1611, King James I wanted to pay for his army in Ireland and decided to raise the money by selling baronetcies. Sir John Philipps paid £1,095 for his hereditary title. The estate remained with the Philipps family until the death of Lord Milford in 1823, when it was inherited by his cousin Richard Grant, who assumed the surname Philipps and was created a Baronet in 1828 and Baron Milford in 1847. His heir was his half-brother, the Reverend James Henry Alexander Philipps (formerly Gwyther), who assumed by royal licence the surname and arms of Philipps. On his death the estate passed to his son-in-law, Charles Edward Gregg Philipps, who was created a Baronet, of Picton, in 1887 then to Sir Richard Foley Foley-Philipps, cousin of Sir John Erasmus, and grandson of Charles Edward Gregg Philipps.


The Lumsden Collection of Antique & Vintage Lawnmowers. Dating from the early part of the 19th Century through to more recent times, the 85 exhibits, many of which are still in full working order, were originally collected and preserved as a tribute to British engineering by Sussex stockbroker David Lumsden. The collection began over 25 years ago and soon dominated Lumsden family life, as his son Nick recalls: ‘People would ring my father up about abandoned mowers they’d found. Whenever the collection got to a certain size, another shed had to be built – it was a bit like a shanty town!’ Each would be painstakingly restored and preserved for future generations and the ‘Lumsden Collection’ is now considered to be one of the finest in the world.


In 2002, Nick Lumsden married into the Philipps family who were the ancestral owners of Picton until the creation of the Picton Castle and Gardens Charitable Trust, and so the genesis of the Lawnmower Museum was born and this fascinating world-class treasury of vintage and antique lawnmowers found a permanent home in Pembrokeshire. Including models manufactured by long-established names such as Ransomes (now manufacturers of Westwood and Mountfield mowers), Sims, Jefferies, Greens, Atcos, and Shanks, there are also fine examples of larger models designed to be pulled by small ponies or donkeys and still complete with their original livery. The ‘piece de resistance’ of the collection is a mighty 42 inch 1923 Greens with a four cylinder Dorman engine weighing in at approximately two tons! It is the only working model of an early playing fields petrol mower in existence today.


The history of the lawn goes back to 17th century England where close-cropped grass was seen as a status symbol for wealthy landowners who would employ a fleet of servants to scythe their grass. However in 1830 an engineer by the name of Edwin Beard Budding attempted to revolutionise the cutting of guardsmen’s uniforms with an invention based on improving the napping of cloth. His device, the rotary blade, would in fact revolutionise 19th Century gardening and just two years later the first lawnmower was manufactured using Budding’s rotary blade. This marked the beginning of an obsessive relationship between man, machine and our passion for a well-manicured lawn. This loyal and unassuming piece of machinery has come a long way since 1830 so next time you drag your ‘old faithful’ from the shed – step back for a moment and raise a salute to Edwin Budding whose invention has made your job so much easier and make a date to visit this fascinating tribute to our gardening and sporting history. The Lumsden Collection of Antique and Vintage Lawnmowers can be seen at Picton Castle and Gardens throughout the season.


Dogs Welcome! Dogs on leads are more than welcome to accompany visitors within the Gardens – with the 40 acres providing more than ample scope for them to get plenty of exercise! All they ask is for you to bring along a ‘poopy bag’ – or ask at the shop – and dispose of these responsibly. We do not advise that you leave your dog in your car. Assistance dogs such as Guide Dogs, will be permitted in the Castle. Please note that entry to the castle is by Guided Tour only. Most of the paths are well surfaced, although the woodland walk can get quite muddy. There are disabled toilet facilities. The building is wheelchair accessible. Castle Tours take place during the main season opening dates at 12.00, 13.00 and 14.00.


Location : Picton Castle and Gardens, Haverfordwest SA62 4AS

Transport : Haverford West (National Rail) then taxi. Bus Routes : No Service.

Opening Times : Daily 10:00 to 17:00.

Tickets : Adults £10.00;  Seniors £9.00 ; Children (5 - 15) £5.00

Tickets Garden Only : Adults £7.00;  Seniors £6.00 ; Children (5 - 15) £4.00

Tel. : 01437 751326